Academic Profile

Sneha Krishnan is Associate Professor in Human Geography and Tutorial Fellow at Brasenose College. She comes to this position from a Junior Research Fellowship in Human Geography at St John's College, Oxford (2015 - 2018). Sneha did all her graduate work at Oxford (2015) and her undergraduate degree at the University of Madras in India (2009).

Current Research

As a cultural and historical geographer, Sneha is interested in gender, childhood and the intersections of bio- and geopolitics in postcolonial contexts. Her doctoral research used ethnographic and historical research to focus on the spatialities of risk and safety in the lives of young middle-class women in the South Indian city of Chennai. Building on this, her monograph-in-progress examines hostels for women in historical context as sites where imperial logics endure into the postcolonial present.

In new work, Sneha builds on these interests to explore three inter-related themes. In two collaborations on childhood and feminist geopolitics, Sneha's work examines the territorial and demographic discourses that undergird constructions of childhood and youth in the Global South. A second project examines the gendered spatialities of suicide in India, specifically focusing on the historicity of 'youth suicide' as a site where territorial imaginaries and biopolitical concerns converge. A third methodological collaboration focuses on gender and digitized archives, with the goal both of creating a digital archive of women's materials from South Asia, as well as of building debate in feminist interdisciplinary studies on the spatiality of digital knowledge production.

Unstable Archives: Gender and Empire in South Asia

Sneha is working on the Unstable Archives project, which is funded by an award from the John Fell Fund, in collaboration with Megan Robb (University of Pennsylvania). How is ‘gender’ constituted in the archive? What relation does ‘gender’ bear to Empire and to cultures of travel and mobility, as well as to projects of education, literacy and self-making? This collaboration represents an effort to engage these questions while asking how digitization shapes contemporary engagements with ‘gender’ in colonial contexts, particularly that of South Asia.

We ask these questions as we seek to acquire for the catalogues of Bodelian Digital (Oxford) and University of Pennsylvania Libraries the papers of two women whose lives bookend Britain’s imperial presence in India. The papers of Sharaf-un-Nisa Begum tell a story of encounter on one temporal end of the British Empire in India. Begum married an Englishman and traveled to Devonshire in 1770, and lived the remainder of her life among the British Aristocracy. The papers of Dorothy de la Hey, an educator who went out to India in 1914 and established the first women’s college in Southern India, are indicative of a history of encounter between Indian and British women within the uneven context of colonial rule. Find out more on the project website - - and follow @UnstableArch for updates on Twitter!

Current Teaching

Sneha lectures on core courses for the Preliminary Examinations and Final Honours School, in addition to teaching tutorials across the entire breadth of the curriculum at Brasenose. In 2019-2020, Sneha will offer an undergraduate option on Childhood and Youth in the Global South. Sneha welcomes enquiries from graduate students with interests in the following broadly-defined fields: feminist/queer studies, geographies of race, gender and sexuality, geo- and biopolitics, childhood and youth, colonial and postcolonial geographies, South Asia.

Selected Publications

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Journal Articles

Special / Edited Collections

  • Gergan, M., Krishnan, S., Smith, S. and Young, S. (forthcoming) Special issue 'Young People as Agents of Decolonization'. Antipode.
  • Robb, M., Chatterjee, E. and Krishnan, S. (2017) Special edition 'Urban Emotions: Responses to the South Asian City, c. 1850 – 1950'. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 27(4).

Book Chapters

  • Krishnan, S. (forthcoming) Bodies, Embodiment and Feeling. In, Barclay, K. and Stearns, P. (eds.) The Routledge History of Emotions in the Modern World. Routledge, London.
  • Krishnan, S. (2020) Dreaming of Addis Ababa: In the Afterlives of Inter-War Christian Internationalism. In, Silva, K. and Franz, M. (eds.) Migration, Identity, and Belonging: Defining Borders and Boundaries of the Homeland. Routledge, New York.
  • Krishnan, S. (2018) Bitch don’t be a lesbian: Selfies, Selves and Same-Sex Desire. In, Dasgupta, R. and Dasgupta, D. (eds.) Queering Digital India: Activisms, Identities, Subjectivities. Oxford University Press, New York. pp. 151-164.
  • Krishnan, S. (2018) Style-ish Girls and Local Boys: Young Women and Fashion in Chennai. In, Lewis, R., Begum, L. and Dasgupta, R. (eds.) Styling South Asian Youth Cultures: Fashion, Media and Society. IB Tauris, London.
  • Krishnan, S. (2014) Responding to Rape: Feminism and Young Middle-Class Women in India. In, Alston, M. (ed.) Women, Political Struggles and Gender Equality in South Asia. Palgrove Macmillan, Basingstoke. pp. 19-32.

Other Publications

  • Bligh, A. and Ware, G. (2019) Women, Gender and Love: India Tomorrow Part 4. The Conversation. (The Anthill - podcast produced by The Conversation UK, includes interview with Sneha Krishnan).
  • Krishnan, S. (2019) Children/Childhood.: 167-172.
  • Krishnan, S. (2019) On Old Questions that Remain Important. In Plainspeak, May 2019.
  • Krishnan, S. (2018) Gay but not Homosexual: Issue in Focus - Gender, Sexuality and Performance. Plainspeak: A Digital Magazine on Sexuality in the Global South.
  • Krishnan, S. (2015) The Labour Party’s Modi Problem: Ahead of the Indian Prime Minister’s Visit. Oxford Left Review.