Dr Henrike Donner

Staff details

Dr Henrike Donner


Reader, PGR Admissions




h.donner (@gold.ac.uk)

I am an urban anthropologist with research interests in gender and kinship, class and urban politics.

I joined Goldsmiths in 2015 and have previously taught at LSE, Georg August Universität Göttingen, and Oxford Brookes. Most of my research to date focuses on gender and class, and how marriage, the family, parenthood and consumption reproduce middle-class identities and class relations. I also work on urban politics, and have written on the role of neighbourhoods, on the Naxalite movements, urban restructuring, and gendered access to housing.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD Social Anthropology, London School of Economics 1999
  • MA Social Anthropology, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München 1992

Teaching and supervision

I supervise research students working on class, gender and kinship, reproductive change, and urban politics.
I invite proposals on gender and kinship, class, urban politics and reproductive labour.
My curent doctorate students are
Bianca Griffani
Sonia Crivello
Haya Al-Shawani
Daisy Swift
Sarah Ramandhita
Isla Francis

Research interests

My research is based on fieldwork in India and focuses on middle-class family life, parenting and reproductive change, love and marriage, consumption and the effects of economic liberalization. I am also interested in gendered effects of urban spatial politics and neoliberal property regimes, and have published on homeownership, possessive individualism, and consumer identities in the context of economic liberalisation.
At the moment I am the PI on a collaborative project, which explores poor women's access to housing and home-making practices from a comparative perspective.

Publications and research outputs


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

Edited Book

Bhattacharya, Bhaswati and Donner, Henrike, eds. 2020. Globalising Everyday Consumption in India: History and Ethnography. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9780367178529

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 Goddard, Victoria, eds. 2023. Special Issue: Kinship and the Politics of Responsibility, Critique of Anthropology, 43(4). 0308-275X

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

Book Section

Donner, Henrike. 2023. Feminist Ethnography as a Collective Project. In: Cecilia McCallum; Silvia Posocco and Martin Fotta, eds. The Cambridge Handbook for the Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 65-93. ISBN 9781108647410

Donner, Henrike. 2020. The Housewife goes to Market: Food, Work, and Neoliberal Selves in Kolkata Middle-class Families. In: Bhaswati Bhattacharya and Henrike Donner, eds. Globalising Everyday Consumption in India: History and Ethnography. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 185-205. ISBN 9780367178529

Bhattacharya, Bhaswati and Donner, Henrike. 2020. Introduction. In: Bhaswati Bhattacharya and Henrike Donner, eds. Globalising Everyday Consumption in India: History and Ethnography. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 1-26. ISBN 9780367178529


Donner, Henrike. 2023. ‘The Girls are Alright’: Beauty Work and Neoliberal Regimes of Responsibility Among Young Women in Urban India. Critique of Anthropology, 43(4), pp. 399-421. ISSN 0308-275X

Donner, Henrike and Goddard, Victoria. 2023. Kinship and the Politics of Responsibility: An Introduction. Critique of Anthropology, 43(4), pp. 331-364. ISSN 0308-275X

Donner, Henrike. 2022. Liminal States: Propertied Citizenship and Gendered Kin Work in Middle-Class Kolkata Families. Critique of Anthropology, 42(4), pp. 457-476. ISSN 0308-275X

Exhibition Catalogue

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

Professional projects

I led the project ‘Austerity Bites: Food Stories from Lewisham’ – which engaged with the effects of austerity politics on food security, social equality, and local foodscapes.
As main marker of identity food is omnipresent in the way we make sense of ourselves and changing times. Lewisham, one of the most culturally diverse but also one of the most deprived areas of London has been particularly affected by the politics of austerity and food is materially and symbolically at the heart of the anxieties residents share. From food banks to allotments, cooperatives and soup kitchens to the rise of independent coffee shops, farmers’ markets and gastro pubs, the Austerity Bites exhibition provide food for thought on how residents perceived the changing local foodscape and how they cope with the pressures of austerity policies, which have an impact on this very intimate part of individual and collective identities and self-making.

I led the project ' A Room for Ones Own: Gender and Urban Housing in India' that was developed in collaboration with School of Women's Studies Jadavpur University, Kolkata; Women's Studies Centre, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata; Centre for Study of Developing Societies, TATA Institute of Social Sciences to address issues of women's access to shelter, rights in housing and the provision of legal support to insure rights housing in marginal urban communities. The project was supported through UKRI Global Challenges funding between 2018-2020.