Advanced Centre for Women's Studies


Research has been one of the strongest areas of the ACWS. The faculty of the Centre have undertaken several research projects and commissioned assignments for national and international funding agencies on various issues. Research themes that are currently being focussed on include -

  • Labour and Migration
  • Caste and Sexuality
  • Gender-based Violence
  • Feminist Methodologies and Ethics
  • Feminist Science and Technology Studies
  • Feminist Approaches to Health
  • Feminist Disability Studies
  • Women and Law -Child Rights
  • Violence Against Women
  • Caste, Class, Gender

Research Projects

1.Worker-driven Initiatives to Tackle ‘modern slavery’ in India’

Sponsor: Research England through their Global Challenges Research Fund Pump Priming

The Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, TISS and Wilberforce Institute at University of Hull,  UK.This pilot research is funded by Research England through their Global Challenges Research Fund Pump Priming. This socio-historical pilot study aims to map worker-driven initiatives which have emerged in India in the last three decades to tackle so-called modern forms of slavery. The diversity of socio-historical contexts and economic conditions in India that this research encompasses provides a unique opportunity to understand the challenges, constraints and promises of these initiatives. This pilot study is only a first step towards a more comprehensive and in-depth research programme exploring the relevance and limitations of worker organising in contexts of the Global South integrated (or not) into global production networks and affected by labour chains characterised by precarity and/or stigma.

Broadly, the project explores the following:

  1. How can we re-conceptualise the range of practices some now call ‘modern forms of slavery’ in the context of India?
  2. In this context, who are the workers? Which sectors are they concentrated in? How are their lived conditions characterised?
  3. How do workers in exploitation organise? When, where and how do these initiatives emerge? Who drives them? What format do they take?
  4. How are these forms of collective organisation related to long-existing social movements against gender, caste and other structural inequalities?
  5. How different are these forms of collective organisation from traditional trade union organising?
  6. How sustainable are these initiatives?
  7. What constraints have they faced and how were these overcome?
  8. What has been their impact?
  9. At what level has this impact been felt?

Project leaders: Dr. Bindhulakshmi P and Prof. Meena Gopal (Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, TISS)
                        Dr. Lorena Arocha (Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull)

2. An Exploratory study of discriminations based on non-normative genders and sexualities

Sponsor: Ford Foundation

This research study involves generating an understanding of discrimination in the areas of health, education, shelter and housing, public infrastructure and utilities, and political formations, and involves the work of researchers across the country. Discrimination here is understood not just as incidents or moments of certain kinds of conduct or behavior, but also as the contexts and structural conditions that enable or institutionalize such conduct, or the terms of inclusion into various systems that keep out various persons and are experienced as discrimination.

At this point, we are attempting to interpret what we have been hearing in our fieldwork over these past two years. As we develop the final report, we have been sharing our findings in various fora since June end.

3. Early Child Marriage Initiative: A Monitoring and Evaluation Project

Sponsor: American Jewish World Service (AJWS)

The Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), entered into a partnership in October 2014 with American Jewish World Service (AJWS) who support the project, to undertake this research on monitoring and evaluation of their Early/ Child Marriage (ECM) Initiative in India. The research is conducted in a participatory mode with grassroots organisations supported by AJWS as part of their ECM Initiative in India. Our research brings in a feminist perspective and methodology needed to address a complex phenomenon such as early and child marriage. The intention is not just monitoring and evaluation of efforts related to ECM in the conventional sense, but evolving a framework to understand and document change. The participatory mode of research elicits organisational strategies that dovetail new modes of planning and assessing change around ECM into their ongoing work. This will lead to shifts that understand change beyond result oriented impact of their work. This is achieved in the research study through revisiting and reframing the ‘monitoring and evaluation question’ through a feminist lens.

  • First Year Report - Addressing Early and Child Marriage in India: A Participatory Study on Mapping Outcomes (Report download)