Profile: Karishma Desai

Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations


Doctorate, Teachers College, Columbia University (2017)

Masters of Education in International Educational Development, Teachers College, Columbia University (2017)

MST, Childhood Education, Pace University (2006)

B. A. in Sociocultural Anthropology, Washington University in Saint Louis (2004)

Expertise & Research Interest

Feminist Studies
Race & Gender/Education
Anthropology & Education
Childhood & Youth Studies
Comparative Education  

Recent & Selected Publications

Desai, K. (2020) Collective willfulness: Refashioning empowered girlhood. Journal of Political and Legal Anthropology. Special edited collection on Citizenship Amendment Act.

Desai, K. (2020). Life Skills as affective labour: Skilling girls with gendered enterprise. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 43(4), 705-722.

Kirchgasler, C. and Desai, K. (2020) ‘Girl’ in Crisis: Colonial residues of domesticity in transnational school reform. Comparative Education Review, 64(3), 384-403.

Desai, K. (2019). Letting girls learn, letting girls rise: Commodifying girlhood in campaigns for secure global futures. In K. Cheney & A. Sinevro (Eds.) Disadvantaged childhoods and humanitarian intervention. Palgrave Book Series on Children and Development. Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sanya, B.N., Desai, K., Callier, D.M., & McCarthy, C. Eds. (2018). Educative practices and the making of(non)citizens [Special Issue]. Curriculum Inquiry.

Desai, K. (2016). Teaching the ‘Third World Girl’: Girl Rising as a precarious curriculum of empathy. Curriculum Inquiry, 46(3), 248-264.

Desai, K. & Sanya, B. N. (2016). Towards decolonial praxis: Reconfiguring the human and the curriculum. Gender and Education, 28(6), 710-724.

Desai, K. (2015). Adharshila Shikshan Kendra: An experiment to reconstitute possibilities for Adivasi children. In E. Sumida Huaman and B. Sriraman (Eds.), Indigenous universalities and peculiarities of innovation (149-168). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.


Honors & Awards

  • Gerardo Marin Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of San Francisco
  • Faculty Development Fund Award, University of San Francisco
  • Dean’s Fellowship for Research, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Dean’s Fellowship Program for Teaching & Diversity Award, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Minority Scholarship, Teachers College, Columbia University

Professional Affiliations

American Anthropological Association (AAA)

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Comparative and International Education Society (CIES)

National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)



  • Phone: 
    (848) 932-0722
  • Office Address: 

    GSE Room 36C

  • Ed.M. Program (Education, Culture, & Society Concentration)

    Ed.D. Program (Education, Culture, & Society Concentration)

    Ph.d (Theory, Organization, and Policy)

    Faculty Affiliate, South Asian Studies Program

    Faculty Affiliate, Center for Security, Race and Rights