Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

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 is inter-disciplinary, drawing on development geography, social anthropology, feminist and postcolonial theory, as well as empirical work undertaken in India using a range of social science research methods. My research to date has focused on knowledge within the context of development. It theorises how information moves, both temporally and spatially, across transnationally imagined geographic and discursive spaces and how this movement is facilitated by knowledge brokers, both as individuals and as part of civil society, working at the interface of inclusion and exclusion in developing country contexts. The implications for development are significant, insofar as the harnessing of knowledge and improvements in its availability and accessibility for poor and marginalized groups, notably women, is frequently upheld as a panacea for overcoming inequality as well as promoting economic growth and development. Yet my research suggests that attempts to facilitate the growth of knowledge societies in particular through South-North and South-South cooperation are not necessarily linear or subversive, even amongst women and women’s NGOs who are widely presumed to have the capacity to both reach and represent alternative, Southern-based development paradigms. It reveals the uneven distribution of rhetorical power underpinned by the professionalisation of development discourse and practice, and the constitutive role of both new ICTs and civil society within this. 


I am currently BA Programme Director for International Development. At the Undergraduate level I am module convener for PIED 3207 International Development and Social Policy. At the Masters level I am part of the team-taught module PIED 5256M, Global Inequalities and Development.

I have been awarded a Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellent (LITE) Teaching Enhancement Project Award entitled ‘Exploring research partnerships with development NGOs to enhance student skill-building and future employability’, a one-year secondment starting in August 2017.

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

I currently supervise the following PhD projects:

  • Shipping Yu: Gender dynamics, livelihoods and women’s agency in rural China 
  • Mustafa Attia: To what extent has thhe Egyptian Revolution paved the way for more sustainable and inclusive development to benefit disabled people in Egypt? 
  • Alex Norman: Indigenous representation in Nunavut 


Key Publications


  • Narayanaswamy L, Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development, Routledge Explorations in Development Studies (Routledge, 2017)

  • Negotiating Knowledge Evidence and Experience in Development Ngos, ed. by Hayman R and others (Rugby: Practical Action Publishing, 2016)

Journal articles


  • Narayanaswamy L, ‘I have not seen a single person use it': NGOs, documentation centres and knowledge brokering in development’, in Negotiating Knowledge: Evidence and Experience in Development NGOs, ed. by Hayman R and others (Rugby, UK: Practical Action Publishing, 2017), 111-128

  • Narayanaswamy L, ‘Irrelevance Dressed as Success? Dis-spirited Reflections on Knowledge-based Development’, in Understanding research in global development. Fieldwork issues, experiences and reflections, ed. by Crawford G and others (London: SAGE, 2017)

Media Contact Areas

  • Gender and development
  • Knowledge for development
  • ICTs for development
  • Feminism in development
  • Civil society and development
  • South Asia

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