Dr. Sagnik Dutta

Dr. Sagnik Dutta

Associate Professor(Jindal Global Law School), Assistant Dean (Research, JGLS), Fellow (Centre for Women’s Rights, JGLS)

BA (University of Calcutta);

MA (School of Oriental and African Studies);

PhD (University of Cambridge)

: sdutta1@jgu.edu.in.in

Sagnik Dutta specialises in political theory, political anthropology, critical socio-legal studies, and feminist and critical international relations. They hold a PhD in Politics and International Studies from the University of Cambridge. Dutta is dedicated to bringing the disciplines of political science and international relations in conversation with political and legal anthropology. To this end, their research builds upon ethnographic fieldwork on working class Muslim women’s activism in contemporary India to deparochialise debates on minority rights, gender, and liberalism in political theory and international relations that are usually explored through the prism of liberal multiculturalism. Dutta challenges existing Eurocentrism of debates on minority rights.

In their research, they show how everyday ethical negotiations inspired by transnational Islamic feminist epistemologies and activist practices as well as local legal cultures of engaging the law and the everyday state shape meanings and practices of Muslim minority activism. They also show how global discourses of Islamism, Islamophobia, and Islamic reformism can be explored in the everyday life of the law using a feminist and postcolonial lens. Dutta’s research and pedagogy is invested in decolonising the disciplines of Political Science and International Studies as well as the law using feminist epistemologies and grounded theorising that builds upon ethnographic research.

This research has been supported by several prestigious scholarships and grants including the Gates Cambridge doctoral scholarship award, Smuts Commonwealth award, and the American Political Science Association travel grant. This research has appeared in prominent journals in the field of gender studies and socio-legal studies such as Feminist Theory, Law and Social Inquiry, and Ethnicities. Dutta’s other strand of research concerns critical counterterrorism studies, populism, and everyday securitisation. They are working towards a collaborative research project to study the relationship between counterterrorism practices and colonial legacies of emergency politics in a comparative perspective along with collaborators at Leiden University. They were recently awarded a seed grant by Leiden University and the Hague University of Applied Social Sciences for this project.

  • Visiting scholar, University of Cambridge, Department of Politics and International Studies (September 2020 – September 2021)

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

  • Dutta, Sagnik. “Competing Allies: Legal Pluralism, and Gendered Agency in Mumbai’s Sharia Courts.” Law & Social Inquiry, 2021, 1-21. doi:10.1017/lsi.2021.39.
  • Dutta, Sagnik. “Becoming Equals: The Meaning and Practice of Gender Equality in an Islamic Feminist Movement in India.” Feminist Theory, (June 2021). https://doi.org/10.1177/14647001211023641.
  • Dutta, Sagnik. “Divorce, Kinship, and Errant Wives: Islamic Feminism in India, and the Everyday Life of Divorce and Maintenance.” Ethnicities 21, no. 3 (June 2021): 454–76. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468796821999904.
  • Dutta, Sagnik. “From Accommodation to Substantive Equality: Muslim Personal Law, Secular Law, and the Indian Constitution 1985–2015.” Asian Journal of Law and Society 4, no. 1 (2017): 191-227. doi:10.1017/als.2016.54.

Media and General Public Writing

  • “Remembering Saba Mahmood, a Pioneer in Redefining Ideas of Rights and Freedom”, The Wire, March 15, 2018
  • “Those Fighting for Muslim Women’s Rights Must Stop Seeing Them as Hapless Victims”, The Wire, January 2, 2018
  • “The Judiciary: System Failure”, Frontline, October 17, 2014
  • “Ban Without Basis: the UAPA tribunal’s ban of the Student’s Islamic Movement of India”, Frontline, May 24, 2014
  • “Rights and Wrongs: On the Supreme Court’s judgment on Section 377 of the IPC”, Frontline, January 10, 2014

Papers Presented/Panellist and Conferences

    • Paper – ‘Decolonising legal pluralism: women’s claims and family law in shariat courts in Mumbai’, Reimagining Justice and Ethnography, Strathclyde Postgraduate Law Conference, University of Strathclyde (April 2021)
    • Paper – ‘Transgender rights and the conundrums of liberalism in South Asia’, Law and Society Association, Chicago (April 2021)
    • Paper – ‘Boundaries of the law: dispute resolution in women’s sharia courts in Mumbai’, Plural Ideas of Justice, Stories, Narratives, and Experiences from India, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai (April 2021)
    • Webinar: Panel on Muslim Dispute Resolution in India and Australia: Lessons from the Informal Sphere, Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia (October 2020)

Core Courses

  • Foundations of Social Sciences
  •  Political Science II (Indian Politics)


  • Postcolonial Democracy and the law