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Department of Education

Aliya Khalid

Lecturer of Comparative and International Education

Aliya teaches on the Comparative and International Education MSc programme at the Department of Education after having taught at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on how women in the South navigate their agency in highly constrained circumstances. Her specialised areas of interest are the capability approach, negative capability, epistemic paradoxicality and justice, and the promotion of knowledges (plural) and Southern epistemologies. Aliya actively engages in issues around the politics of representation and knowledge production in the academe. Aliya is currently accepting doctoral students with an interest in these areas.



‘Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on learning experiences of secondary school going age children among Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic minority families’

Project summary:
COVID-19 related school disruption and closures have significantly impacted the lives of students. Notably, these disruptions have had a multi-fold impact on children living in ethnic minority families. Although ethnic and racial inequalities are persistent across contexts, this project particularly engages with young adults and other family members belonging to Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic minority families living in England. Children in these families have been uniquely affected by the pandemic (Bayrakdar & Guveli, 2020), given the higher rates of prevalence of COVID among these communities and also greater and persistent structural inequalities.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic minority families have been identified as a focus of this research because firstly, these particular groups have been strongly impacted by COVID (Platt & Warwick, 2020; Trivedy et al., 2020) and secondly, their socio cultural specificities make them more susceptible to disadvantage during COVID related school closures (Bayrakdar & Guveli, 2020). Our particular focus is on secondary school children whose learning has been majorly disrupted due to national lockdowns and uncertainty regarding national assessments.

Therefore, this project aims to address the unique situation and experiences of these BAME families with secondary school age children to understand how COVID-related challenges are shaping their learning experiences, household dynamics and future aspirations.

This is an exploratory, project which fills an important gap in existing knowledge by taking a strong cultural lens to understanding how learning among Bangladeshi and Pakistani families could be supported, drawing on a deeper understanding of their lived realities and contextualised understanding of the challenges they face. The aim is not simply to reproduce a deficit discourse (which tends to be associated with families from these ethnic minority groups), but to understand family dynamics and the opportunities offered herein.

Funded by:

Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme

Research team:

Professor Nidhi Singal and Dr Aliya Khalid


‘Bridging the Local and Global: Women’s Spaces and Collectives’

Project summary:
While globalisation aims to connect the world equitably, global perspectives are often privileged over the local. Often the voices of women from the South (metaphor for marginalised) are least heard. This project acknowledges that any ‘Global’ ideology of (Dis)order needs to include local women’s voices by studying how they have generated order/disorder to create ‘spaces of action’/reflection (defined as collectives). We propose a multi-phase, multi-method study of women’s ‘collective spaces’. We first explore how ‘collectives’ have been understood. We will learn from women themselves by conducting two interview based case studies on (i) access to reproductive healthcare (Northern Ireland/Ireland) and (ii) mothers’ collective experiences of educating their children during a pandemic (ethnic minority families in England). In bringing together law and education, archives and interviews, reproductive healthcare and education, this project offers a novel way of understanding – and recording – collective responses to local/global challenges.

Funded by:

Virtual Sandpits, The British Academy

Research team:

Dr Aliya Khalid, Dr Jane Rooney and Dr Ruth Houghton, Dr Kate spencer-Bennet, Alana Farrel Kate Spencer-Bennett


‘Gendered Inequalities in Education and Capability Spaces for Women/Girls (and others) in Pakistan During Covid’

Project summary: This project explores the cumulative intersectional experiences of women/girls (and others) that are shaped by multidimensional inequalities existing in their physical (urban/rural) and social (market, society, community and family) settings. In particular, how gender interacts with the different vectors of disadvantage (for example, economic, technological, social, cultural and political) within the perimeters of their location (urban/rural) and setting (labour market, society and family) is to be explored. We refer to what we call ‘spaces of action/reflection’ that provide unique gendered experiences of seeking education. This project will thus conceptualise ‘spaces’ as those gendered experiences marked by economic, technological, social, cultural and political disadvantages that girls (and others) face in their locations (physical and social) as they seek education in the times of the pandemic. Hence, ‘space’ not only refers to the physical (urban/rural), but also, the social (community, family), cultural (society) and personal (psychological) aspects within which girls/women (and others) live and seek education.

This research aims to identify how these ‘spaces’ generate opportunities and constraints for girls/women (and others) in Pakistan. This exploration is essential today when Covid-19 has created ruptures in the supportive structures of educational provision. In this regard, it is essential to understand the limits and opportunities for girls/women’s (and that of others) education in Pakistan within these ‘spaces’ that have come about as a result of Covid-19 related educational and social restructuring of opportunities. In sum, the aim of the project is to contribute to international education by creating a deeper understanding of the gendered vulnerabilities that intersect with disadvantages and placement (physical and social) vectors to produce gendered experiences for the most marginalised in the context of Pakistan.

Funded by:

British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) Seedcorn Fund

Research team:

Dr Aliya Khalid and Dr Soufia Siddiqui



Khalid, A. (forthcoming). ‘Hearing their silences: Mothers agency as they support their daughters’ education in rural Punjab Pakistan’, Gender and Education.

Khalid, A., & Rose, P. (forthcoming). Mothers’ Capability to Influence their Daughters’ Education in Pakistan: Interconnections between mothers’ value of education, negative capability and agency. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities.

Khalid, A. (in preparation) ‘Comparisons of hope, education, and aspirations between Pakistani mothers and revolutionaries: The being and becoming of agents in the contexts of change’. Comparative Education

Khalid, A. & Singal, N. (in preparation) ”It’s made us stronger as a family’: Ethnic minority parenting experiences of educating children in England during Covid’. Journal of Family Studies

Singal, N. & Khalid, A. (in preparation) ”Time moves fast but it also goes slow’: Secondary school children’s experiences of ‘preparing’ for exams during lockdown in England. Children and Society

Khalid, A., Parpart, J. & Holmes, G. (Eds.) (in preparation) ‘ From the silence/voice binary to liminal spaces: Understanding gender, agency and power in a changing world’. Routledge

Khalid, A. & Siddiqi, S. (in preparation). Human Development Report 2022: Gendered inequalities in education and capability spaces for women/girls (and others) in Pakistan during Covid’. South Asia: Human Development Report UNDP

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