Sarada Balagopalan’s research is on post-colonial childhoods. Trained in education and anthropology, her work foregrounds the tension between children’s work and schooling as a key site where discourses of colonial modernity, the ‘developmental’ nation-state, late capitalism, and current transnational efforts around children’s rights get played out. Her related research on elementary education engages the contemporary policy regime in light of the experiences of first-generation school goers and their communities. Using the 2010 Right to Education Act as its point of departure, Balagopalan’s new research on schools in Delhi looks at ‘aspirations’ as a productive node to map emergent imaginations of childhoods within distinct caste/class communities, as well as in the legal and political spheres.
Balagopalan’s work has also involved efforts to translate her research interests into curricular and related interventions in elementary education. She served as Chief Adviser for the National Council for Educational Research and Training’s middle-school Social and Political Life textbooks (2005–08), and is one of the founding editors of Contemporary Education Dialogue, the bi-annual interdisciplinary journal on education in South Asia. She is on the editorial board of the journal Childhood: A Journal of Global Child Research and guest-edited a special issue of this journal in August 2011. She has been published in Economic and Political Weekly, Feminist Theory, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, and Contemporary Education Dialogue. Her book on post-colonial childhoods is forthcoming in 2013.