Biography

Shruti Iyer is a second year DPhil candidate in Socio-Legal Studies, under the supervision of Linda Mulcahy. She is a 2019 Rhodes Scholar at St Antony's College, and completed her MPhil at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies in 2020. She is a co-convenor of the Law and Political Economy Discussion Group for 2021-22, and also convenes a fieldwork support group for scholars working on the Global South. 

Her doctoral dissertation considers changing understandings around worker injury and compensation in India. It does this through an ethnographic case study of a government scheme in the State of Rajasthan that provisions 'ex gratia' payments to people who have a certified diagnosis of silicosis. Silicosis is an occupational lung disease typically contracted from inhaling hazardous dust at work, affecting thousands of miners and quarriers each year. Her research asks what moral discourses are produced and relied upon to make the demand for state compensation, and how this is made sense of by workers, NGO staff, and state officials. It approaches these competing and entangled moral economies through a focus on the relations between labour, civil society, and the state in demanding and provisioning compensation. Her MPhil examined the emergence of state compensation in India, linking it to the legal binary of the formal/informal worker. It drew on a transnational colonial history of labour law in Britain and South Africa to demonstrate how the legal construction of 'formal employment' allowed for the emergence of human rights discourse in India to win protections for informal workers.  

Shruti graduated in Politics, Philosophy and Law (2016) from King's College London, and later worked as a researcher at the Centre for Equity Studies in New Delhi. While at King's, she worked under Professor Ben Bowling as an Undergraduate Research Fellow on race relations legislation in the UK and its links to immigration and policing, as well as on the use of new technologies of law enforcement. At the Centre for Equity Studies, her research was on the Indian state's evolving relationship to sanitation workers. She also conducted fieldwork on a range of informal labour issues, and prepared teaching curricula on exclusion in contemporary India.

Shruti has teaching experience in political science, and works as a TA in the Department of Political Economy at King's College London (2020-21 and 2021-22). 

 

Publications

Recent additions

  • B Bowling and S. Iyer, 'Automated policing: the case of body-worn video ' (2019) International Journal of Law in Context
    DOI: 10.1017/S1744552319000089
    This paper examines the impact of body-worn video (BWV) on the police craft skills of close observation, note-taking, investigative analysis, report-writing and preparation of evidence for the courts. It explains how the technology functions and explores its surveillant, investigative, probative and regulatory applications. The evidence shows that policing tasks are being transformed by BWV cameras and analytics such as facial recognition. The paper argues that BWV exemplifies the automation of policing-the replacement of police labour with mechanical devices-and explores the implications of this for transparency, accountability, fairness and police discretion.
  • A Kumar , A Elliott-Cooper , S. Iyer and D Gebrial , 'An Introduction to Identity Politics ' (2018) Historical Materialism
    DOI: 10.1163/1569206X-00001776
    This special issue responds to ongoing debates around what has been termed ‘identity politics’. We aim to intervene in what are make-or-break questions for the Left today. Specifically, we wish to provoke further interrogative but comradely conversation that works towards breaking-down the wedge between vulgar economism and vulgar culturalism. Critically, we maintain that just as all identity categories are spatially and temporally contingent – socially constructed, yet naturalised – so too is this current bifurcation between ‘class politics’ and ‘identity politics’. Ultimately, we call for an intellectual and organisational embracing of the complexity of identity as it figures in contemporary conditions; being a core organising-principle of capitalism as it functions today, a paradigm that Leftist struggle can be organised through and around – and yet all with a recognition of the necessity of historicising, and ultimately abolishing, these categories along with capitalism itself.

Chapter (2)

B Bowling, S. Iyer, R Reiner and J Sheptycki , 'Policing: past, present and future ' in Adam Edwards, Gordon Hughes and Roger Matthews (eds), What is to be Done About Crime and Punishment?: Towards a Public Criminology (Palgrave 2016)

Journal Article (3)

B Bowling and S. Iyer, 'Automated policing: the case of body-worn video ' (2019) International Journal of Law in Context
DOI: 10.1017/S1744552319000089
This paper examines the impact of body-worn video (BWV) on the police craft skills of close observation, note-taking, investigative analysis, report-writing and preparation of evidence for the courts. It explains how the technology functions and explores its surveillant, investigative, probative and regulatory applications. The evidence shows that policing tasks are being transformed by BWV cameras and analytics such as facial recognition. The paper argues that BWV exemplifies the automation of policing-the replacement of police labour with mechanical devices-and explores the implications of this for transparency, accountability, fairness and police discretion.
A Kumar , A Elliott-Cooper , S. Iyer and D Gebrial , 'An Introduction to Identity Politics ' (2018) Historical Materialism
DOI: 10.1163/1569206X-00001776
This special issue responds to ongoing debates around what has been termed ‘identity politics’. We aim to intervene in what are make-or-break questions for the Left today. Specifically, we wish to provoke further interrogative but comradely conversation that works towards breaking-down the wedge between vulgar economism and vulgar culturalism. Critically, we maintain that just as all identity categories are spatially and temporally contingent – socially constructed, yet naturalised – so too is this current bifurcation between ‘class politics’ and ‘identity politics’. Ultimately, we call for an intellectual and organisational embracing of the complexity of identity as it figures in contemporary conditions; being a core organising-principle of capitalism as it functions today, a paradigm that Leftist struggle can be organised through and around – and yet all with a recognition of the necessity of historicising, and ultimately abolishing, these categories along with capitalism itself.
S. Iyer, 'Indian Feminists in the Legal Reform Process' (2016) Journal of International Women's Studies
This paper examines the critique of what has been termed as “governance feminism” and analyses its conceptual utility with reference to the legal reform process undertaken in India in the aftermath of the Delhi anti-rape demonstrations of late 2012-early 2013. Governance feminism refers to the process by which feminists influence institutional decisions and policy, and critiques of governance feminism focus on its tendency to maintain an equivalence between womanhood and victimhood, and its blindness to unintended consequences of feminist legal reform. This paper will reflect on the critiques that have been made of governance feminist interaction with the state, and examine their exportability to the Indian context, with reference to Indian feminist engagement with the Justice Verma Committee (JVC) that was set up to make recommendations to the criminal law. I will go on to argue that the critiques that have been made of governance feminist intervention in the West have limited exportability to the Indian context. The insights of the governance feminist critique remain invaluable, and the methodological emphasis that it places on unintended consequences are of relevance to Indian feminists who (like any feminist movement) do not operate as a monolithic movement, but are constantly negotiating unstable political categories and identities. However, this paper will pay attention to the fact that where the Indian feminist movement was self-critical in its recommendations for legal reform, they were largely unsuccessful in having them reflected in the Ordinance and Act later passed. In the light of this, it will argue that while the governance feminist critique tends to espouse taking a break from feminism to account for other justice projects, the Indian feminist’s experience suggests that feminists may be better off taking a break from the state.

Internet Publication (1)

Research Interests

Labour law; medical anthropology; extractivism; political economy; social movements; critical theory; tort law; social reproduction theory; critical approaches to human rights 

Research projects