Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Contact Details

Dr. Lata Narayanaswamy

Lecturer in International Development

Since 2001 I have worked as a research practitioner, consultant and lecturer in gender and development. My research problematises how knowledge is actualised as a driver of development in both discourse and practice.

Before joining Leeds in 2014, I held Lecturer and Visiting posts at the Universities of Sheffield and Hull in the UK, and at Carleton University and York University in Canada. I was awarded my PhD from the University of Durham in 2011.

Research Interests

My research draws on development, feminist and postcolonial literatures as well as data from empirical work undertaken in India and analysed using a range of social science research methods to understand the role of knowledge brokers in efforts to promote more inclusive knowledge societies through leveraging knowledge as a driver of development. My research suggests that privileging knowledge, despite the illusion of a more inclusive and embracing rhetoric centred on improving access-for-all, in fact reinforces fundamentally neoliberal global development paradigms that represent an almost unassailable narrative elision between access to knowledge and development. The process by which information travels between and beyond different socio-economic and political environments is neither straightforward nor predictable. Moreover, the paradigm itself privileges the individual information seeker,  obfuscating critical attention away from questions around context in relation to inequality and power imbalances that shape not just access to available information, but knowledge systems in their entirety.

My forthcoming book, entitled Gender, Power and Knowledge-for-Development, is being published as part of Routledge’s flagship book series Routledge Explorations in Development Studies. It raises questions about the essential utility of the knowledge paradigm itself and its key underpinning presumptive mechanism, namely that a knowledge deficit exists in the Global South, particularly for marginalised women, that may be addressed by practices that essentially focus on improving the supply-side of knowledge without accounting for the power imbalances that underpin the knowledge systems being targeted for support.


I am currently BA Programme Director for International Development. At the Undergraduate level in semester 1 I am module convener for PIED 2201: Development Approaches and PIED 5766M Research Methods for Development. In semester 2 I am module convener for PIED 3207 International Development and Social Policy and will teach on PIED 5256M, Global Inequalities and Development.


PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD proposals from candidates keen to conduct research on any inter-related topics that draw from the following broad themes:

  • Gender and development
  • NGOs/civil society in development
  • Postcolonialism
  • Feminism and development
  • ICTs in development
  • Knowledge and development
  • Development in South Asia

Key Publications


Narayanaswamy, L., Gender, Power and Knowledge-for-Development, Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge Explorations in Development Studies (forthcoming 2016).

(co-editor with R. Hayman, T. Kontinen and S. King), Negotiating Knowledge: Evidence and Experience in Development NGOs, Practical Action Publishing (forthcoming 2016).

Journal articles

Narayanaswamy, L. (2015) ‘If only they knew better: strengthening knowledge systems for social development?’, Special Issue: Meeting Emerging Global Policy Challenges: Positioning Social Policy Between Development and Growth?, Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy, 31:2, 174-191.

Narayanaswamy, L. (2014) ‘NGOs and feminisms in development: Interrogating the ‘Southern women’s NGO’, Geography Compass, 8:8, 576–589.

Narayanaswamy, L. (2013) ‘Problematising Knowledge-for-Development’, Development and Change, 44:5, 1065-1086.

Narayanaswamy, L. (2007) ‘The power to subvert? Beyond North-South dichotomies in gender and development discourse’, Narrative Inquiry, 17:1, 49-67.

Social media/blogs

Narayanaswamy, L.  (2014) ‘How my ‘monthlies’ turned me into a feminist’, Girls’ Globe blogpost to mark Global Menstrual Hygiene Day, 19 May.

Narayanaswamy, L. (2013) ‘Knowledge mobilization versus KM in development: Like ships passing in the night?’, Institute for Knowledge Mobilization: Knowledge Mobilization Works, 6 November.

Selected Conference/Seminar Papers

2015. Expert academic panel member for Development Studies Association (DSA) Annual Conference, Panel ‘NGOs as Knowledge Hubs and Brokers of Expertise in Tomorrow’s World? A Round Table discussion’, 7-8 September, University of Bath.

Narayanaswamy, L. (2015), ‘Gender(ed) Knowledge and Professionalisation in Development: Interrogating dominant ‘ways of knowing’, Conference Panel Convener (with B. Jones) and Paper, Gender Relations and Increasing Inequalities, University of East Anglia, July.

Narayanaswamy, L. (2015), ‘NGOs as brokers of knowledge in development’, invited speaker to the seminar series of the Knowledge Management Research Group (KMRG), Loughborough University, May.

Narayanaswamy, L.  (2014), ‘Clearly there is no strategy’: NGOs as managers and brokers of knowledge in development’, Workshop on ‘Knowledge(s) in civil society organisations in development’, Development Studies Association (DSA) NGO Study Group and the British International Studies Association (BISA) NGO Working Group, University of Leeds, April.

Narayanaswamy, L.  (2013), ‘Problematising Knowledge-for-Development’, invited speaker of the Knowledge Translation and Exchange Community of Practice (KTECoP) Ottawa, November.

Narayanaswamy, L.  (2013), ‘From rhetoric to reality: Is the promise of knowledge-for-development being lost in translation?’, Political Science Speaker Series Lecture, Carleton University, Canada, October.

Narayanaswamy, L.  (2013), ‘Elitism and professionalisation in the work of gender and development knowledge intermediaries’, Workshop on ‘Gender Analysis of Development Policy: Is anybody listening?’, DSA Women and Development Study Group & Gender Policy Study Group, London International Development Centre, February.

Narayanaswamy, L. (2012), ‘Empowering the disempowered? Knowledge-for- Development (K4D) and the “Southern woman”’, Forthcoming Feminisms: Gender Activism, Politics and Theories Conference, Leeds, October.

Narayanaswamy, L.  (2011), Invited Panel Member – Discussant, Mainstreaming marginalised knowledge into development policy processes’, Public Event/Research Seminar, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), April.

Narayanaswamy, L.  (2010), ‘The Creation of Symbolic Value within the Knowledge Practices of Development NGOs’, Dissemination in the Age of “Impact”: Implications for the Politics of Research in the Global South, Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) Annual Conference, September.

Media Contact Areas

  • Gender and development
  • Knowledge for development
  • ICTs for development
  • South Asia

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