Dr Henrike Donner

Staff details

Position Reader, PGR Admissions
Department Anthropology
Email h.donner (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7078 5036
Dr Henrike Donner

Dr Henrike Donner is an urban anthropologist with research interests in gender and kinship, class and urban politics. Her research projects explore the interplay of gender, kinship and class, the legacy of the militant Naxalite movement and the multiple effects of urban change on social relations. She has conducted fieldwork in Kolkata, India from the mid-90s onwards and have published extensively on changing family life, inter-generational relations, the reproduction of class, urban politics and consumption. 


She teaches the following courses:

  • Politics, Economics and Social Change
  • Anthropology and Gender Theory
  • Anthropological Research Methods

Areas of supervision

Henrike Donner invites PhD proposals on a range of topics related to South Asia, gender and kinship, class, urban anthropology and social movements

Research Interests

Henrike Donner's research interests include changing family life, gender relations, and urban politics in relation to middle-class identity, and she has conducted fieldwork in Kolkata, India from the 1990s onwards. Earlier projects she was involved in focused on middle-class families, parenting and reproductive change, within the context  of economic liberalization and the life histories of former political activists in the 1970s Naxalite movement.

She also has always had an interest in urban space, first working on gender, neighbourhoods and place-making and more recently on urban property and class relations. Urban property regimes are the focus of he current research project, which explores the way the lives of middle-class lifestyles are shaping urban politics, and how in return, intimate relations are re-ordered and re-imagined through neoliberal discourses on homeownership, possessive individualism, and ongoing urban restructuring. 



Donner, Henrike. 2008. Domestic Goddesses: Maternity, Globalisation and Middle-Class Identity in Contemporary India. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0754649427

Edited Book

Donner, Henrike, ed. 2011. Being Middle-Class in India: A Way of Life. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415671675

Donner, Henrike and De Neve, Geert, eds. 2006. The Meaning of the Local: Politics of Place in Urban India. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415596237

Edited Journal

Donner, Henrike and Santos, Goncalo, eds. 2016. Special Issue: Comparative Perspectives on Love and Marriage in India and China, Modern Asian Studies, 50(4). 0026-749X

Donner, Henrike and De Neve, Geert, eds. 2015. Special Issue: Revisiting Urban Property in India, Journal of South Asian Development, 10(3). 0973-1741

Donner, Henrike and Chari, Sharad, eds. 2010. Special Special Double Issue: Ethnography and Activism, Cultural Dynamics, 22(2). 0921-3740

Book Section

Donner, Henrike. 2018. Domesticating Markets: Early Years Education and Middle-class Parenting in India. In: Marylin Fleer and Beert van Oers, eds. International Handbook on Early Years Education. London/New York: Springer, pp. 1541-1561. ISBN 978-94-024-0925-3

Donner, Henrike. 2018. The Housewife goes to Market: Changing ideas about consumption in Kolkata Middle-class Families. In: Henrike Donner and Bhaswati Bhattacharya, eds. The Making of the Indian Consumer: History, Theory, Practice. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Donner, Henrike. 2015. Making middle-class families in Calcutta. In: James Carrier and Don Kalb, eds. Anthropologies of Class: Power, Practice, Inequality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 131-148. ISBN 9781107087415

Donner, Henrike. 2015. Liberalisation. In: Gita Dharampal-Frick; Rachel Dwyer; Monica Kirloskar-Steinbach and Jahnavi Phalkey, eds. Key Concepts in Modern Indian Studies. Delhi: Oxford University Press and New York University Press, pp. 160-161. ISBN 978-0199452750

Donner, Henrike. 2014. Gender and Property in Neoliberal Middle-class Kolkata: Of untold riches and unruly homes. In: Leela Fernandes, ed. Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 189-203. ISBN 9780415523530

Donner, Henrike. 2013. West Bengal: Colonial Legacy, Class Formation and Politics. In: Peter Berger and Frank Heidemann, eds. The Modern Anthropology of India: Ethnography, Themes and Theory. London: Routledge, pp. 309-326. ISBN 978-0415587235

Donner, Henrike. 2012. Between the Veranda and the Mall: Fieldwork and the Spaces of Femininity. In: Italo Prado and Guiliana Prato, eds. Anthropology in the City. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 173-190.

Donner, Henrike. 2011. Gendered Bodies, Domestic Work and Perfect Families: New Regimes of Gender and Food in Bengali Middle-class Lifestyles. In: Henrike Donner, ed. Being Middle-class in India: A Way of Life. London: Routledge, pp. 47-72. ISBN 978-0415671675

Donner, Henrike and De Neve, Geert. 2011. Introduction. In: Henrike Donner, ed. Being Middle-class in India: A Way of Life. London: Routledge, pp. 1-22. ISBN 978-0415671675

Donner, Henrike. 2011. Radical Masculinity: Morality, Sociality and Relationships through Recollections of Naxalite Activists. In: Alpa Shah and Judith Pettrigrew, eds. Windows to the Revolution: Ethnographies of Maoism in India and Nepal. London: Orient Black Swan, pp. 139-159. ISBN 978-8187358497

Donner, Henrike. 2006. The Parlour and the Para: Class and Gender in a Neighbourhood of Central Calcutta. In: Geert De Neve and Henrike Donner, eds. The Meaning of the Local: Politics of Place in Urban India. Routledge: London, pp. 141-158. ISBN 978-0415596237

Donner, Henrike and De Neve, Geert. 2006. Space, Place and Globalisation: Revisiting the Urban Neighbourhood in India. In: Henrike Donner and Geert De Neve, eds. The Meaning of the Local: Politics of Place in Urban India. London: Routledge, pp. 1-20. ISBN 978-1844721146

Donner, Henrike. 2005. Children are Capital, Grandchildren are Interest: Changing Educational Strategies and Kin-relations in Calcutta Middle-class Families. In: Jackie Assayag and Chris Fuller, eds. Globalizing India: Perspectives from Below. London: Anthem Press, pp. 119-139. ISBN 978-1843311959

Donner, Henrike. 2005. Reflections on Gender and Fieldwork in the City. In: Geert De Neve and Maya Unnithan-Kumar, eds. Critical Journeys: The Making of Anthropologists. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 165-189. ISBN 978-0754648093

Donner, Henrike. 2004. Labour, Privatisation, and Class: Middle-class Women’s Experience of Changing Hospital Births in Calcutta. In: Maya Unnithan-Kumar, ed. Reproductive Agency, Medicine and the State: Cultural Transformations in Childbearing. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 113-135. ISBN 978-1845450441


Donner, Henrike. 2017. Two steps forward, one step back ? Does India’s new maternity leave policy enhance gender equality? Policy Forum, April 10th,

Donner, Henrike. 2017. The Anthropology of the Middle Class Across the Globe. Anthropology of this Century, 18(1),

Donner, Henrike. 2016. Doing it our way: Love and marriage in Kolkata middle-class Families. Modern Asian Studies, 50(4), pp. 1147-1189. ISSN 0026-749X

Donner, Henrike and Santos, Goncalo. 2016. Love, Marriage, and Intimate Citizenship in Contemporary China and India: An introduction. Modern Asian Studies, 50(4), pp. 1123-1146. ISSN 0026-749X

Donner, Henrike. 2015. '”Daughters are just like Sons now”': Negotiating Kin Work and Property Regimes in Kolkata Middle-class Families’. Journal of South Asian Development, 10(3), pp. 318-344. ISSN 0973-1741

Donner, Henrike and De Neve, Geert. 2015. Introduction: Revisiting Urban Property in India. Journal of South Asian Development, 10(3), pp. 255-266. ISSN 0973-1741

Donner, Henrike. 2012. Love and Marriage, Globally. Anthropology of this Century, 4(2),

Donner, Henrike. 2012. Middle-class Imagination and Urban Restructuring in Twenty-first Century Kolkata. New Perspectives on Turkey(46), pp. 129-155. ISSN 0896-6346

Donner, Henrike. 2010. Locating Activist Spaces: The Neighbourhood as a Source and Site for Urban Activism in 1970s Calcutta. Cultural Dynamics, 23(1), pp. 21-40. ISSN 0921-3740

Donner, Henrike and Chari, Sharad. 2010. Ethnography and Activism: A Critical Introduction. Cultural Dynamics, 22(2), pp. 75-84. ISSN 0921-3740

Donner, Henrike. 2009. Radical Masculinity: Morality, Sociality and Relationships through Recollections of Naxalite Activists. Dialectical Anthropology, 33(3), pp. 327-343. ISSN 0304-4092

Donner, Henrike. 2008. New Vegetarianism: Food, Gender and Neo-Liberal Regimes in Bengali Middle-Class Families. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 31(1), pp. 143-169. ISSN 0085-6401

Donner, Henrike. 2006. Committed Mothers and Well-adjusted Children: Privatisation, Early-Years Education and Motherhood in Calcutta Middle-class Families. Modern Asian Studies, 40(2), pp. 339-364. ISSN 0026-749X

Donner, Henrike. 2004. The Significance of Naxalbari: Accounts of Personal Involvement and Politics in West Bengal. Cambridge Centre for South Asian Studies Occasional Paoers(14), pp. 1-14. ISSN 1476-7511

Donner, Henrike. 2003. The Place of Birth: Pregnancy, Childbearing and Kinship in Calcutta Middle-class Families. Medical Anthropology, 22(4), pp. 303-341. ISSN 0145-9740

Donner, Henrike. 2002. One’s Own Marriage: Love Marriages in a Calcutta Neighbourhood. South Asia Research, 22(1), pp. 79-94. ISSN 0262-7280

Donner, Henrike. 1997. Gender and Urbanisation in a Calcutta Neighbourhood. Journal of the Anthropological Survey of India, 46(1), pp. 1-44. ISSN 0970-3411

Exhibition Catalogue

Donner, Henrike; Nicolescu, Gabriela and Santos, Dominique. 2016. Austerity Bites: Food Stories from Lewisham.

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