Dr Kaveri Qureshi

Kaveri Qurashi

Research Affiliate

I work on health and social inequalities in the UK and Pakistan, with a focus on migration, 'race'/ethnicity, gender, and the management of health and illness within the family. I also have a growing interest in areas where the medical and the legal coincide, such as the right to health.

I have convened or taught on courses on medical anthropology and medical sociology, gender and health, fertility and reproduction, migration studies, and research design in a cross-cultural context. I have supervised and examined research projects from undergraduate to doctoral levels.

I have worked on four main areas, connected by the theme of life course transitions:

1. Chronic illness 

In my doctoral research I examined the epidemic of chronic illness that disproportionately afflicts Pakistanis in Britain. I explore how the structures of race and class into which postwar immigrants were incorporated upon their arrival in Britain left a legacy of untimely and unjust chronic illness that has persisted and become even more entrenched over time and generations. I examine how Pakistani people have made sense of this epidemic, how it has affected families, households and livelihoods, and the moral imagination it inspires about responsibilities towards others, safety nets and care, and – in this context where carers so often also suffer ill health – ethics of patience and waiting for divine intervention.

2. Growing up

Today more than half the Sikh population in Britain was born and brought up here, and it has been claimed that British education is shifting the structures of race and class that disadvantaged earlier generations. Yet my postdoctoral research at the University of Sussex uncovered the discontents of British education – the ways that British schools produce ethnicity as an inevitable prior irrespective of children and young people’s cultural productions, parents’ displeasure with school peer cultures, and the reverse flows this engenders.

3. Marital breakdown

Linked to the epidemic of physical ill health I explored in my PhD was widespread mental illness connected to marital instability, which I found to be more common in British Pakistani families – and later also in Punjabi Sikh families – than the literature had led me to expect. I developed an involved interest in marital breakdown, which had been overlooked by sociologists positing South Asians as the custodians of the traditional family. In this project, I seek to generate community-level debate about the rise in divorce and develop a comparative analysis redressing the Euro-American bias in debates about couple relationships. I examine the unofficial legal process of marriage breakdown, the fall-out for parents and children, and question whether new forms of intimate life are opening up outside marriage.

4. Parenthood

In my collaborative projects at Oxford I have developed the concept of reproductive cultures, critiquing the idea of reproduction in terms of stasis and highlighting inter-generational relations, inequalities and interconnection. In my most recent fieldwork in Lahore I have been exploring how Pakistan’s changing class structure and rural-urban-international migration are diversifying the meanings and practices of motherhood, in a context where multiple caretaking and domestic service economies are also pronounced.




(2018) Chronic illness in a Pakistani labour diaspora, Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, Ethnographic Studies in Medical Anthropology series

(2016) Marital breakdown among British Asians: conjugality, legal pluralism and new kinship, London: Palgrave, Studies in Family and Intimate Life series. ** Shortlisted for the BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize 2017

Co-edited books and special issues

(2017) co-edited with E Rahman. Infant feeding: medicalization, the state and techniques of the body, special issue of Women’s Studies International Forum

(2016) co-edited with S Pooley. Parenthood between generations: transforming reproductive cultures, Oxford: Berghahn, Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality series

Papers/chapters on chronic illness/health inequalities/work

(2017) with B Rogaly. ‘That’s where my perceptions of it all were shattered’: oral histories and moral geographies of migrant work in an English city region’, Geoforum 78: 189-98

(2014) with S Salway, P Chowbey and L Platt. ‘Long-term ill health and the social embeddedness of work: a study in a post-industrial and multi-ethnic locality in the UK’, Sociology of Health and Illness 36(7): 955-67

(2013) ‘Sabar: body politics among middle-aged Pakistani migrant women’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(1): 120-137

(2013) ‘It’s not just pills and potions: depoliticizing health inequalities policy in the UK’, Anthropology & Medicine 20(1): 1-12

(2012) ‘Pakistani labour migration and masculinity: industrial work, the body and transnationalism’, Global Networks 12(4): 485-504

(2010) ‘Sickness, dreams and moral selfhood among migrant Pakistani Muslims’, Anthropology & Medicine 17(3): 277-87

(2009) ‘Gender and the poetics of chronic ill-health: British Pakistani experiences’, pp.163-83 in S Ahmad (ed) Pakistani women: multiple locations and competing narratives, Karachi: OUP

(2008) with L Platt, S Salway and P Chowbey. ‘Ill-health in the family: the intersection of employment and caring across households from four ethnic groups with an adult with a long-term health condition’, Benefits: The Journal of Social Justice 16(1): 33-45

(2007) with S Salway, L Platt and P Chowbey. ‘Chronic illness and sickness-related benefits: exploring ethnic differences and similarities in access’, Sociology of Health and Illness, 29(6): 907-930 and republished by Routledge

Papers/chapters on marriage/divorce/family

(2018) ‘Marriage, Islamic advice literature and its women readers’, Contemporary Levant, doi: 10.1080/20581831.2018.1455341

(2018) with B Rogaly. ‘Womanhood implies travel: Punjabi marriage migration between India and Britain’, forthcoming in N Riley and J Brunson (eds) International handbook of gender and demographic processes, Dordrecht: Springer

(2017) ‘Transnational families’, pp.256-9 in K Jacobsen, G Singh, K Myrvold and E Nesbitt (eds) Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Leiden: Brill

(2016) ‘Shehri (city) brides between Indian Punjab and the UK: transnational hypergamy, Sikh women’s agency and gendered geographies of power’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(7): 1216-28

(2015) with K Charsley and A Shaw. ‘British Asians and family structure: changing patterns of marriage and divorce’, Sociology Review, November

(2014) with K Charsley and A Shaw. ‘Marital instability among British Pakistanis: transnationalism, conjugality and Islam’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(2): 361-79. **One of the five top downloaded articles in Ethnic and Racial Studies in 2015

Papers/chapters on reproduction/motherhood

(2018) ‘Miscarriage in Pakistani Punjab: culpability and the limits to human action’, forthcoming in S Kilshaw (ed) Negotiating miscarriage, Oxford: Berghahn

(2017) with A Qureshi and Z Khawaja. ‘Where there is no weighing scale: newborn nourishment and care in Pakistani Punjab’, Women’s Studies International Forum 60(Jan-Feb): 128-35

(2016) ‘First-time parenthood among migrant Pakistanis: gender and generation in the postpartum period’, pp.160-80 in K Qureshi and S Pooley (eds) Parenthood between generations: transforming reproductive cultures, Oxford: Berghahn

(2015) ‘Migration, belonging and the body that births: Pakistani women in Britain’, pp.14-32 in M Unnithan and S Khanna (eds) The cultural politics of reproduction: migration, health, and family making, Oxford: Berghahn

Papers/chapters on children/young people/education

(2015) ‘Beyond code-switching: young Punjabi Sikhs in Britain’, pp.191-208 in K Myrvold and K Jacobsen (eds) Young Sikhs in a global world, Aldershot: Ashgate

(2015) ‘Sending children ‘back home’ for their (mis)education’, pp.281-295 in S Irudaya Rajan, VJ Varghese and A Nanda (eds) Migrations, mobility and multiple affiliations: Punjabis in a transnational world, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.  

(2014) ‘Sending children to school “back home”: multiple moralities of Punjabi Sikh parents in Britain’, Journal of Moral Education 2(3): 213-226

(2014) ‘Culture shock on Southall Broadway: re-thinking second-generation return through geographies of Punjabiness’, South Asian Diaspora 6(2): 161-71 

(2013) ‘Sikh associational life in Britain: gender and generation in the public sphere’, pp.92-110 in E Gallo (ed) Migration and religion in Europe: comparative perspectives on South Asian experiences, Aldershot: Ashgate

(2013) with F Osella. ‘Transnational schooling in Indian Punjab: designer migrants and cultural politics’, pp. 99-115 in L Bartlett and A Ghaffar-Kucher (eds) Lives in motion: migration and education in global perspective, New York: Routledge 


(2017) ‘Divorce in the Pakistani diaspora’

(2016) ‘Samina leaves home’

(2016) with S Pooley. ‘Does the state alter what it means to be a parent?’

(2016) with S Pooley. ‘Is it inevitable you’ll turn into your mother?’