Dr Kaveri Qureshi

Kaveri Qurashi

Research Associate

I work on South Asian migration, both international migration – to Britain – and internally, within Britain and Pakistan. Within this setting, my research interests lie at the intersection of ill health, life courses, family configurations and gender. I have convened or taught on courses on medical anthropology, gender and health, fertility and reproduction, and the anthropology of migration, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I am pursuing the following strands of research:

1. Chronic illness in a Pakistani labour diaspora

This project thinks through the chronic illness and premature ageing that disproportionately afflict Pakistanis in Britain, examining the cultures of ill health that are created in conditions of racial and socio-economic marginalization. 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 illness and death that has persisted and become even more entrenched over time and generations. I consider how Pakistani people have made historical sense of this endemic chronic illness, the safety nets and moral economies that are tested, and the moral, ethical and political questions that are provoked. Of specific interest are people’s ways of holding to account chronic back pain, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and mental disorder; worklessness, the debilitating effects of industrial restructuring and people’s interactions with retrenching welfare institutions; family care and – in this context where carers so often also suffer ill health – ethics of patience, selflessness and redemption.

2. Marital breakdown and divorce

Much of the mental disorder I encountered in my field site was explained by virtue of tension in the family, especially marital conflict, separation or divorce. I developed an involved interest in marital breakdown, which had been overlooked by sociologists positing South Asians as the last bastions of the traditional family in Britain and denied by community representatives pinning identities to superior family values and the sexual continence of women. In this project, I seek to generate community-level debate about the rise in marital breakdown in British Asian communities and juxtapose people’s ways of making sense of marital breakdown with scholarly debates about changing intimate relationships, which have had a Euro-American bias. Second, pursuing my interest in the places where medical and legal anthropology conjoin, I explore family mediation, the family machinations that underpin people’s interactions with the law proper, and their illness-inducing effects. Finally I examine the process of family reconstitution after separation or divorce and whether, as some have argued, new forms of intimate life are opening up outside marriage.

3. Motherhood

In my research on chronic illness, women linked their bodily deterioration to the toll taken by reproductive labour, particularly childbirth and childrearing. I became interested in the changes migration brought to the demands of motherhood, yet I was troubled by the assumption in many accounts of migrant mothers that it is migration that catalyses change in what would be otherwise an underlying process of stasis. This literature has overlooked emergent social transformations in sending countries, such as in the case of Pakistan, rural-to-urban migration, a shifting class structure, the expansion of state institutions such as the Lady Health Workers programme, an emerging Islamic biopolitics of child quality over quantity, and the privatization of healthcare. Meanwhile, literature on global mothers has been preoccupied with novel technologically-mediated encounters between women such as those in the transnational surrogacy industry, and underplayed the continuities these may show with older forms of stratified reproduction based on class, race and caste, or how women’s interactions with lower-tech medical interventions are similarly structured. In fieldwork in and around the city of Lahore, I have been exploring the transition to motherhood, in a context where multiple caretaking and domestic service economies remain pronounced.

4. Migration, translocalism and diaspora

Finally I have broad research interests in the social and cultural aspects of migration, thinking critically about the concept of transnationalism, its methodological nationalism and bifocalism. My work engages on the one hand with ideas of translocalism, highlighting the connections that are sustained across locales irrespective of whether these cross national borders, and revealing a plurality of scales at which migrants are emplaced, and on the other, with ideas of diaspora space, pointing to the long genealogies connecting places like Punjab and Britain and arguing for a mutual constitutiveness between the two, disrupting the contrast between dispersion with staying put.



(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 and ageing

(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

(2010) with A Shaw. ‘Migration, family and British social policy in the late 20th century’ pp.111-32 in J Fink, A Lundqvist and N Tadmor (eds), Changing relations of welfare: family, gender and migration in Britain and Scandinavia, Avebury: Ashgate

(2009) with S Salway ‘Long-term ill-health, ethnicity and poverty’, Ethnic Inequalities in Health and Social Care 2(3): 38-49

(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 A Shaw. ‘Kinship obligations, gender and the life-course: Re-writing migration from Pakistan to Britain’ pp.105-28 in V Kalra (ed), Pakistani diasporas: culture, conflict and change, Karachi: Oxford University Press

(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

(2006) with A Shaw. ‘Family care and transnational kinship’, pp.259-74 in M Richards and F Ebtehaj (eds) Kinship matters, London: Hart

Papers/chapters on marital breakdown

(2018) ‘Marriage, Islamic advice literature and its women readers’, Contemporary Levant, special issue on ‘Gendering everyday Islam’

(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

(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 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

(2017) with E Rahman. ‘Infant feeding: medicalization, the state and techniques of the body’, Women’s Studies International Forum 60(Jan-Feb): 81-88

(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 migration, translocalism and diaspora

(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

(2018) with C Basi. ‘Homing desires: young queer British Indian men’, forthcoming in T Selwyn and N Frost (eds) Travelling towards home, Oxford: Berghahn

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

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

(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) with F Osella. ‘Punjabi diaspora and educational development’, pp.103-115 in I Rajan (ed) India Migration Report 2014: Diaspora and Development, New Delhi: Routledge.

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

(2013) with B Rogaly. ‘Diversity, urban space and the right to the provincial city’, Identities 20(4): 423-37 and republished by Routledge

(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

(2013) with VJ Varghese and F Osella. ‘Indian Punjabi skilled migrants in Britain: of brain drain and under-employment’, Journal of Management Development, 32(2):182-92

(2013) ‘Diasporic citizenship and militarization: Punjabi soldiers in the world wars’, Citizenship Studies 17(3–4), 354–367

(2012) with B Zeitlyn. ‘British Muslims, British soldiers: cultural citizenship in the new imperialism’, Ethnicities 13(1): 110-126

(2012) with VJ Varghese and F Osella. ‘Transnationalism and ambivalence’, pp.13-63 in P Pitkänen, A Içduygu and D Sert (eds) Migration and transformation, Dordrecht: Springer


(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?’


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