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Dr Kavita Datta, B.A., Botswana; PhD, Cambridge

Reader in Geography

email: k.datta@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: 020 7882 5398
Location: Geography Building, Room 217

Profile

Kavita Datta

I am a development geographer, and my recent research has focused upon transnational migration from the global South to the North. This interest has been developed in a series of independent or collaborative projects investigating the changing nature, politics and sensibility of work and transnational migration to global cities like London and exploring  how and why ‘new’ migrants have come to dominate low-paid work here (Global Cities at Work); the everyday financial practices of new migrant communities which are partly shaped by exclusion from the financial fabric of London but also a preference for alternative ways of ‘doing finance’ (Migrants and their Money) and the scale and scope of Muslim migrants’ philanthropic networks in London in a post-recessionary context (Islamic Philanthropy in Post-Recessionary UK). Some of the key debates and findings of these bodies of work have been developed in the following recent publications:

Key Publications

  • Datta, K. (2012) Migrants and their money: Surviving financial exclusion in London. Bristol: Policy Press and Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Datta, K.; McIlwaine, C.J., May, J.; Herbert, J.; Evans, Y. and Wills, J. (2009) Men on the move:  narratives of migration and work among low paid migrant workers in London, Social and Cultural Geography, 10 (8): 853–873.
  • Datta, K. (2009) Risky migrants? Low paid migrant workers coping with financial exclusion in London, European Urban and Regional Studies, 16 (4): 331–344.
  • Datta, K., McIlwaine, C., Evans, Y., Herbert, J., May, J. and Wills, J. (2010) A migrant ethic of care? Negotiating care and caring among migrant workers in London’s low pay economy, Feminist Review, 94 (1): 93–116.

Teaching

I teach development geography across the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes as part of a distinctive, innovative and collaborative ‘hybrid geography’ agenda which encourages students to challenge the positioning of the global South as a collection of places in need of external  development interventions; to recognise the immense diversity of the global South and the links between the global South and North. This agenda is particularly developed in the two undergraduate modules which I co-teach: Spaces of Uneven Development and Development Futures: Mumbai Unbound. The latter is the first development geography overseas field class to be offered at the School of Geography at QMUL.

Undergraduate Teaching:

Postgraduate Teaching

Undergraduate programmes: how to apply

Postgraduate programmes: how to apply

Student Feedback

  •  “Most stimulating module of my whole university life to date.” (Development Futures, 2012–13)
  • “Obviously the trip was fantastic, seeing the elements of the city come to life was really good and helpful. But also the teaching and content throughout was really good.” (Development Futures, 2012–13)

Research

Research interests:

My research interests have been developed in the following current and recent projects.

  1. Islamic philanthropy in post-recession UK 
    This collaborative research aims to document Muslim migrants’ philanthropic networks in London in a post-recessionary context.  Rejecting the presumption that ‘the economy’ can and should be theorised solely from the perspective of the formal spaces of western economies, this research seeks to learn from ‘alternative’ models of Islamic philanthropy in order to ‘theorise back’ from different economic spaces, institutions and practices, and to explore their geographical (re)configuration in the UK context. It investigates the sources, motivations and everyday practices of migrant charitable giving which underpin larger-scale Islamic charitable financial flows through London via a case study of the Somali community living in London’s East End. Pilot research has been funded by The Centre for the Study of Migration & School of Geography at QMUL and CURDS, University of Newcastle (£4149).
  2. Migrants and their Money
    This project examined the diverse everyday financial practices adopted by new migrant communities in London within the context of financial exclusion. It investigated the extent and levels of financial exclusion among migrant communities from core financial services; the legal and illegal strategies which migrants devised to access these services as well as the informal and alternative financial practices that they engaged in, particularly in relation to accessing credit. The research identified the key barriers that new migrant communities face in integrating into the financial fabric of the city which inter-relate with immigration status, labour market position and transnational financial practices; and the mechanisms by which financial exclusion among migrant men and women can be addressed. This research formed the basis of a book, Migrant and their Money: Surviving Financial Exclusion in London (Policy Press, Bristol and University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2012), and contributed to public policy debates in the UK through as series of events organised by HM Treasury’s Financial Inclusion Taskforce including invited talks to the Taskforce, a Treasury-DFID Conference and a presentation at a Parliamentary launch at Westminster on Irregular Migrants. The research was funded by the Friends Provident Foundation, ESRC-CASE, London Citizens and the School of Geography, QMUL (£118  794).
  3. Global Cities at Work
    My interest in transnational migration was particularly developed through this collaborative project which examined the changing nature of the labour market  and transnational migration to the global city of London. It examined a range of processes behind the formation of a distinct ‘migrant division of labour’ which led to the dominance of migrant labour in low paid work while also focusing upon the lives of migrants in London as well as their transnational connections. It highlighted the essential contribution that low-paid migrant workers make to the functioning of the city and how this role is often overlooked. This research was extensively disseminated to academic and public policy audiences and formed the basis for an important collaborative book entitled Global Cities at Work: New Migrant Divisions of Labour (Pluto Press, London). This research was funded by the ESRC, (£249 669) and Oxfam, UNISON, GLA and QMUL (£19 500).

Publications

Books

Datta, K. (2012) Migrants and their money: Surviving financial exclusion in London. Bristol: Policy Press and Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

 

 


Wills, J., Datta, K., Evans, Y., Herbert, J., May, J., and McIlwaine, C. (2010) Global cities at work: Migrant labour in an uneven world. London: Pluto.

 

 

 

 


Datta, K. and Jones, G.A. (1999) Housing and Finance in Developing Countries. Routledge, London.

Journal articles 

  • Datta, K. (2011) ‘Last hired and first fired? The impact of the economic downturn on low-paid Bulgarian migrant workers in London,’ Journal of International Development, 23: 565-582
  • Datta, K., McIlwaine, C., Evans, Y., Herbert, J., May, J. and Wills, J. (2010) A migrant ethic of care? Negotiating care and caring among migrant workers in London’s low pay economy, Feminist Review, 94 (1): 93–116.
  • Datta, K. (2009) Risky migrants? Low paid migrant workers coping with financial exclusion in London, European Urban and Regional Studies, 16 (4): 331–344.
  • Datta, K., McIlwaine, C., Herbert, J., Evans, Y., May, J. and Wills, J. (2009) Men on the move: narratives of migration and work among low-paid migrant men in London. Social & Cultural Geography, 10 (8): 853–873.
  • Datta, K., McIlwaine, C.J., Wills, J.; Evans, Y., Herbert and J., May (2007) The new development finance or exploiting migrant labour? Remittance sending among low-paid migrant workers in London. International Development Planning Review. Vol 29 (1): 43–67.
  • May, J., Wills, J., Datta, K., Evans, Y., Herbert, J. and McIlwaine, C.J. (2007) Keeping London working: Global cities, the British state and London’s migrant division of labour. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 32: 151–167

Further publications

  • Datta, K.; McIlwaine, C.; Herbert, J.; Evans, Y.; May, J. and Wills, J. (2012) ‘Global workers for global cities: low paid migrant labour in London,’ in B. Derudder, M. Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and F. Witlox (Eds) International Handbook of Globalisation and World Cities, Cheltanham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Datta, K.; McIlwaine, C.; May, J. and Wills, J. (2012) ‘Migrants and migration: Academic research in the UK,’ Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 20 (1): 95–110.
  • Datta, K. (2012) ‘Migration and housing: Global South’, in International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home, Oxford, Elsevier.
  • Wood, G. and Datta, K. (2012) ‘Policy’ in International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home, Oxford, Elsevier .
  • Datta, K. (2012) ‘Housing finance: Global South’, International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home, Oxford, Elsevier.
  • Datta K. (2011) Migrant workers and financial services: keeping themselves to themselves? London: Friends Provident Foundation.
  • Datta, K. (2011) Migrants and financial inclusion: Setting the framework, European Network Against Racism Webzine
  • Wills, J., McIlwaine, C., Datta, K.,, May, J., Herbert, J. and Evans, Y. (2010) New Migrant Divisions of Labour in N. Coe and A. Jones (eds) The Economic Geography of the UK. London: Sage.
  • Wills J., Datta, K., May, J., McIlwaine, C., Evans, Y. and Herbert, J. (2010) (Im)migration, local regional and uneven development, in A. Pike, A Rodriguez-Pose and J. Tomaney (eds) Routledge Handbook of Local and Regional Development. London: Routledge.
  • Datta, K., (2009) The trust gap, European Voice.com
  • Datta, K. (2009) Transforming South-North relations? International migration and development Geography Compass. pp.1–34.
  • Wills, J., Datta, K., Evans, Y., Herbert, J. May, J. and McIlwaine, C. (2009) Religion at work: The role of faith-based organisations in living wage campaigns for immigrant workers in London. Special issue entitled Transforming Work, The Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 1–19.
  • Wills, J., May, J., Datta, K., Evans, Y., Herbert, J. and McIlwaine C. (2009) London’s Migrant Division of Labour. European Urban and Regional Studies special issue on Regions and migration, 2009, 3: 257–271.
  • May, J., Datta, K., Evans, Y., Herbert, J., McIlwaine, C. and Wills, J. (2008) Travelling neoliberalism: Polish and Ghanaian migrant workers in London, in Smith, A., Stenning, A. and Willis, K. (eds) Social Justice and Neoliberalism: Global perspectives. London: Zed Books.
  • Herbert, J., May, J., Wills, J, Datta, K., Evans, Y. and McIlwaine, C. (2008) Multicultural living? Experiences of everyday racism amongst Ghanaian migrants in London, European Urban and Regional Studies, 15 (2) pp. 103–117.
  • Evans, Y., Wills, J., Datta, K., Herbert, J., McIlwaine, C. and May, J. (2007) “Subcontracting by Stealth” in London’s hotels: impacts and implications for labour organising. Just Labor: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society, 10, 85–97. (Published online)
  • Datta, K., (2007) Sons and fathers: Changing constructions of fatherhood in urban Botswana. Women’s Studies International Forum, Volume 30 (2), pp. 97–113.
  • Datta K. (2007) In search of justice? Gender and generation in a globalizing world in Mapetla, M.; Schlyter, A. and Bless, B. (eds) Urban Experiences of Gender, Generation and Social Justice. Institute of Southern African Studies, National University of Lesotho, Pages19-44.
  • Datta, K., McIlwaine, C.J., Evans, Y., Herbert, J., May, J. and Wills, J. (2007) From coping strategies to tactics: London’s low-pay economy and migrant labour. British Journal of Industrial Relations. 45 (2): 409-438.
  • Datta, K. (2007) Gender and micro-finance, Habitat Debate. Special issue on Financing for the Urban Poor, 13 (1): 8.
  • Datta, K. (2007) Housing, Finance and Development. Report for the UNHCS.
  • Datta, K. (2007) Money matters: exploring financial exclusion among low paid migrant workers in London [PDF 364 KB]
  • C.J. McIlwaine, C.J. and Datta, K. (2004) ‘Endangered youth? Youth, gender and sexualities in urban Botswana.’, Gender, Place and Culture, 11 (4): 483–512.
  • Datta, K. (2004) ‘A coming of age? From WID to GAD to ‘add-men-and-stir’ in urban Botswana,’ Journal of Southern African Studies, 30 (2): 271–288.
  • C.J. McIlwaine, C.J. and Datta, K. (2003) ‘From feminising to engendering development,’ Gender, Place and Culture, 10 (4): 369–382.
  • Datta, K. and Jones, G.A. (2001) ‘Housing and finance in developing countries: invisible issues on the new agenda,’ Habitat International, 25: 333–357.
  • Jones, G.A. and Datta, K. (2000) ‘Enabling markets to work: how close is South Africa to best practice?’ International Planning Review 5 (3): 393–416.
  • Jones, G.A. and Datta, K. (1999) From self-help to self-finance: the changing focus of urban research and policy in K. Datta and G.A. Jones (Eds) Housing and Finance in Developing Countries. Routledge, London.
  • Datta, K. (1999) A gendered perspective on formal and informal finance in Botswana in K. Datta and G.A. Jones (Eds) Housing and Finance in Developing Countries. Routledge, London.
  • Datta, K. (1998) Gender, labour markets and migration in and from Botswana in D. Simon (Ed) Reconfiguring the Region: South Africa in Southern Africa. James Currey, Oxford.
  • Datta, K. (1996) The organisation and performance of a low-income rental market: the case of Gaborone, Botswana. Cities, 13 (4): 237–246.
  • Datta, K (1996) Women owners, tenants and sharers in Botswana in A. Schlyter (Ed.) A Place to Live: Gender Research on Housing in Africa. Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala.
  • Datta, K. (1995) Strategies for urban survival? Women landlords in Gaborone, Botswana. Habitat International, 19 (1): 1–12.
  • Datta, K. (1995) Rural homes and urban dwellings?  Gender, migration and the importance of urban tenure in Gaborone, Botswana. International Journal of Population Geography, 1 (2): 183–195.

PhD Supervision

I welcome applications from postgraduate students wishing to work on issues related to transnational migration with a specific emphasis on the migration-development nexus; transnational migrants financial practices including philanthropy, remittances and diaspora investment.

My current and past PhD Students include:

  • Suzane Solley, ‘The widowisation of poverty in Nepal’, (ESRC Studentship)
  • Joshua Phillips (with Al James), ‘Exploring the geographies of credit amongst entrepreneurial new migrant groups in London’ (QMUL Studentship).
  • Camille Aznar, ‘Risk, financial exclusion and migrant workers in London’ (ESRC-CASE Studentship)
  • Binh Tran, ‘The role of civil society in natural resource management in Vietnam’, (QMUL Studentship)
  • Amy Norman, ‘Continuity and Change in the Time of AIDS: Reconceptualising Childhood in KwaZulu-Natal’, (QMUL Studentship)
  • Edlam Aberra, ‘Livelihood Sustainability amongst Pastoral Women and Men in Peri-Urban Yabello, Southern Ethiopia’, (QMUL Studentship)

Public engagement

I sit on the Advisory Board of the Runnymede Trust’s Academic Forum (2008–present).

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