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Personal profile


Dr. Esther Priyadharshini works as an associate professor at the School of Education & Lifelong Learning.  She is the Co-Director for Research in the school and co-leader of the Cultural Studies in Education research group. Esther completed her Ph.D from Lancaster University and previously graduated from Madras University, India. She worked as a market research executive with Gallup, India, conducting social and commercial research in business and charitable/voluntary settings. Esther curently teaches and supervises across several programmes in education - BA, MRes, PhD and EdD. 

Key Research Interests

Dr. Esther Priyadharshini’s research is focused on educational futures, youth/childhood, schooling and gender. Her work is located in the intersection of futures studies, youth studies and education. She is interested in how education can be re-framed to better respond to the challenges of the Anthropocene, and support youth/children in the making of more desirable futures. She draws on tools and concepts from social theory, particularly feminisms, postcolonialism, new materialisms, and post humanist perspectives. She is also interested in experimental and innovative approaches to methodology (non-representational, speculative approaches and participatory persepectives) in the doing of research. Her research seeks to use social theory to address educational situations, and to critique and re-think educational organisation and identities. 


Priyadharshini E., (2021) Pedagogies for the post-Anthropocene: Lessons from Apocalypse, Revolution & Utopia, Springer Press. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-16-5788-7

Jere, C., Robinson-Pant, A., Priyadharshini, E., Millora, C., & Evren, B. (2021). Cooperation, collaboration and compromise: Learning through difference and diversity. Educational Action Research.

Priyadharshini, E. (2020). 'Re-imaginging futures, education and learning relations' in Humanist Futures: Perspectives from UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks on the futures of education. Paris, UNESCO.

Priyadharshini, E., (2019) 'Anticipating the apocalypse: Monstrous educational futures'. Futures 113 (2019), 102453. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2019.102453

Esther Priyadharshini & Amy Pressland (2018) Analysis as assemblage: making sense of polysemous texts, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 35:5, 420-439, DOI: 10.1080/15295036.2018.1492143

Priyadharshini, E. & Carrington, V. Editors, Special Issue on ‘Food, Youth & Education’ for the Cambridge Journal of Education, Spring 2016.

Carrington, V., Rowsell, J., Priyadharshini, E., & Westrup, B. Editors, “Generation Z: Zombies, Popular Culture, and Educating Youth”, Springer Publications, 2016. http://www.springer.com/gb/book/9789812879325

Priyadharshini, E., From Prom Queen to Zombie Barbie: A tutorial in make up, gender and living death. In, Carrington, V., Rowsell, J., Priyadharshini, E., & Westrup, B. Editors, “Generation Z: Zombies, Popular Culture, and Educating Youth”, pp. 71-84, Springer Publications, 2016.  http://www.springer.com/gb/book/9789812879325

Priyadharshini, E., & Godoy-Pressland, A., (2015) “Doing femininities and masculinities in a “feminised” sporting arena: The case of mixed-sex cheerleading”, Special issue on ‘Sex integration in sport and physical culture’ for Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics. Published online 30 October 2015. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17430437.2015.1096253

 Lamb, P. & Priyadharshini, E., “The conundrum of C/cheerleading”, Sport, Education and Society, pp. 1-19, 2013.

Priyadharshini, E., "ReImagining knowledge terrains: the Economic and Social Research Council, governmentalism and the school science landscape"' Power and Education, 5:2, pp. 93-106, 2013

Priyadharshini, E., “Thinking with Trickster: Sporadic illuminations for educational research”, Cambridge Journal of Education, pp. 547-561, Volume 42, Issue 4, 2012.

Priyadharshini., & Watson, J., “Between aspiration and achievement: Agency and structure in young migrant lives”, Power and Education, Special Issue on Migration & Education, pp. 150-161, Vol 4, Issue 2, 2012.

Priyadharshini, E., ‘Counter-narratives in ‘naughty’ students’ accounts: Challenges for the discourse of behaviour management’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, pp 113-129, Vol 32, Issue 1, 2011.

Belton, T., & Priyadharshini, E., 'Boredom and Schooling: A cross-disciplinary perspective', Cambridge Journal of Education, pp. 579-595, Vol. 37, Issue 4, Dec 2007.

Blickem, C., & Priyadharshini, E., 'Patient narratives: The potential for 'patient-centred' interprofessional education?', Journal of Interprofessional Care, pp. 1-14, Vol. 21, Issue 6, Dec 2007.

Priyadharshini, E., ‘Reading the Rhetoric of Otherness in the Discourse of Business and Economics: Towards a Postdisciplinary Practice,’ in Anshuman Prasad (Ed.), Postcolonialism and Organizational Analysis, pp. 170-192, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Priyadharshini, E. and Robinson-Pant, A., ‘The Attractions of Teaching: An investigation into why people change careers to teach’, Journal of Education for Teaching, pp. 95-112, Vol. 29, Issue 3, 2003.

Priyadharshini, E., ‘Coming Unstuck: Thinking Otherwise about ‘Studying Up’’, Anthropology & Education Quarterly, pp.1-19, Vol. 34, Issue 4, December 2003. 

Seminars, workshops, public events

Discussant at book launch, June 23, 2021 with authors Rebecca Coleman, Carolyn Pedwell, Jennifer Leigh and Nicole Brown.

Respondent, at public seminar on Superdiversity by Steven Vertovec, with Jo Druggan, Susan Hodgett, Ben Margolysis, 'Global Britain' seminar series, May 2018, UEA.

Challenges from children's accounts of naughtiness at school, March 2012, the Centre for the study of childhood and youth, University of Sheffield.

‘Double-binds on ‘international researchers: A critical look at the discourse of ‘internationalism’ in educational research’ – Paper presented in June 2009 at Cambridge University as part of a joint BAICE funded workshop with UEA, May 2009.

'Impossible' Subjects: Studying truanting students", Delivered at the Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences, Almeria University, Spain, Oct 2004.

Dilemmas in feminist research: The case of covert ethnography. Delivered at the Institute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, Nov 5th 2003.

Conformity and Resistance within the Indian 'MBA Discourse'. Delivered at the EDU-DEV seminar series at UEA, Jan 28th 2002.

Conference presentations

Priyadharshini, E., 'The Public Pedagogy of School Climate Strikes', Keynote speaker, MA Educational Practice and Research Course Conference, July 24, 2021, UEA.

Priyadharshini, E., 'Imaginaries to cultivate alternative futures: Apocalypse, Revolution, Utopia'. British Sociological Association Annual Conference 2021, 13-15 April - Remaking the Future. 

Priyadharshini, E., 'Anticipating the apocalypse: Monstrous educational futures', Asian conference on Cultural Studies, June 2018, Kobe. Part of a symposium on 'Fearful futures and how to navigate them' by Harry Dyer, Victoria Carrington & Esther Priyadharshini.

Lamb P. & Priyadharshini E., “The conundrum of Cheerleading", the International conference on Sport and Society, July 2012, University of Cambridge.

Priyadharshini, E. & Watson, J., “Education, Migration & the Big Society” at Discourse, Power and Resistance Conference, April 2011, Plymouth University.

Priyadharshini, E., "Fear and Loathing in the field of educational research' at Discourse, Power and Resistance Conference, March 2010, University of Greenwich.

Priyadharshini, E., ‘Constructing an account of oneself: confession, justification, contradiction and speculation in student narrative’, BERA conference, September 2008, Edinburgh.

Priyadharshini, E., 'Reclaiming a Trickster subjectivity for researchers', Discourse, Power and Resisitance Conference 5, 20 - 22 April 2006, MMU.

Elliott, C., Perriton, L., & Priyadharshini, E., 'From Prima to Good Housekeeping: the practice of training and the reproduction of middle-class femininity', 4th International Critical Management Studies Conference, University of Cambridge, 4th - 6th July 2005.

Blickem, C., & Priyadharshini, E., 'Telling Tales: The use of narratives in the education of health professionals' ATINER conference, Athens, May 2005.

Elliott, C., Perriton, L., & Priyadharshini, E., 'Doing Gender in the Transnational Captialist Class', British Academy of Management Conference, St. Andrews Aug 30 - Sept 1 2004 - was awarded the Best Paper prize in the Gender and Management Track.

Priyadharshini, E., Perriton, L & Elliott, C., ‘Could this be a feminist ethnography? The politics and pleasures of covert research’. Conference on “Advances in Qualitative Methods”, International Institute of Qualitative Research, Banff, Canada, May 2003.

Priyadharshini, E., ‘A Methodological Response to the Phenomenon of Globalisation: The Case for an Anthropological Orientation to Research on Education’. Paper presented at the conference on “Globalisation and Challenges for Education”, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, December 2001.

Priyadharshini, E., ‘The Rhetoric of Otherness in the Discourse of Business and Economics: A Postcolonial Perspective’. Paper presented at the ‘First International Critical Management Studies Conference,’ UMIST, Manchester, July 1999.

Research projects undertaken

  • Time, space, belonging and mental health: Participatory explorations of Black and minority ethnic doctoral student experiences. 2021-2022. SMaRteN funded. Undertaken with Kavita Ramakrishnan (PI) and Farhana Ghaffar (RA). 

  • Pedagogies of Popular Culture in Young Lives: Lessons for Schooling. (2016-19). The study aims to map how school-based and popular culture pedagogies intersect, separate, contradict or work together in the lives of those finishing school. It asks: How do young people on the threshold of leaving school (16/17 yrs) imagine possible futures and selves? How do they make sense of the diverse, disconnected messages from school and popular culture, about how to prepare for the future? And what can schooling gain from this understanding? The findings will inform discussions with teachers on implications for school curriculum, pedagogy and relationships. 
  • Widening Horizons (2010-11): A project funded by UEA's Outreach Opportunities Fund to understand the facilitators and impediments to accessing HE/FE amongst Central and Eastern European migrant school students in North Norfolk.
  • Investigation of behaviour management strategies for the Lowestoft partnership of schools (2006-7): A study of current behaviour management strategies across the partnership in order to develop a better understanding of such practices between schools and encourage some consistency in the treatment of pupils as they pass through the various levels.
  • TEACH (Training, Education and Action for coping at Home) project (2003-5): An ethnographic study of stroke services in Norwich Community Hospital. The aim was to understand the admissions & discharge processes from the point of the patients and professionals involved to deliver a more effective service and educational programme. This was a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project undertaken with Rob Walker & Christian Blickem.
  • Internally funded project (2002): A covert, critical study of 'women in management/leadership' conferences organised to educate women into corporate management. This was undertaken with two other colleagues from Lancaster and York universities (Dr. Carole Elliott and Dr. Linda Perriton). The methodology of covert ethnography was experimented with.
  • Attendance Research (2002): A research project undertaken for the LEA to understand poor attendance and truancy among Year 11 students in Park High School, King’s Lynn. The project was meant to understand student perspectives of truancy and used students as co-researchers.
  • Change for the Better (2001): A research project undertaken for the TTA, jointly with colleagues, looking into the reasons why people changed careers to move into teaching and the process of such decision making, with a view to improving recruitment into the teaching profession.
  • LTSN:BEST evaluation (2001): An internal evaluation undertaken jointly with colleagues for the Learning and Teaching Support Network: Business Education Support Team based in UEA.

Doctoral supervisions

Dr. Priyadharshini supervises doctoral research across a range of topics, in varied educational fields. She welcomes applicants who share her research interests in futures education, youth, gender, schooling, cultural studies.

Theses completed (in capacity of primary supervisor):

N. Thurston, 2021 - Physical Education Teachers' Lives and Careers: 1980-2015. Ed.D.

J. Hibberd, 2019 - A critical analysis of practice education in health and social care: Integrating disabilities studies, the capability approach and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Ed.D.

R. Thornhill, 2017 - 'Be in our shoes': An exploration of the need for a student centred ethos within Maltese higher vocational education. Ed.D

E. Slaughter 2016 - A case study of learning during induction at a local authority's children and young people's service. Ed.D

S. Marzi 2016 - Aspirations and Social Mobility: The Role of Social and Spatial (Im)mobilities in the Development and Achievement of Young People’s Aspirations. Ph.D

M. Secker 2016 -  Spinoza’s Theory of Emotion in relation to Vygotsky’s Psychology and Damasio’s Neuroscience. Ed.D. 

S. Housden 2015 - The past, the present and the person: An exploration of the use of reminiscence based activities as a catalyst for learning in later life. Ed.D

B. Finger-Berry 2015 – Death of a School Friend: How young people cope and what helps. Ed.D 

Peacock 2015 – Telling Utterances: Education, Creativity and Everyday Lives Ph.D

M. Papaefstathiou 2015 - ‘It’s not what you see, it’s how it feels’: An ethnographic case study on meanings of child-athlete welfare in Cypriot sport. Ph.D

R. Webster 2013 – Capturing what is of value to children: a study exploring the advantages, values and issues of participatory research with 5 and 6 year olds. Ed.D

N.Taylor 2012 - Fear, Performance and Power: A study of simulation learning in paramedic education Ed.D

J. Sheen 2011 - Whither Health Visiting? Again... Ed.D

C. Kitcatt 2010 - Dancing Barefoot: An Exploration of Women's Experience of the Spiritual Accompaniment/Direction Relationship. EdD

C. Rylands 2010 - How Young Men Negotiate Schooling: The Role of Significant Events, Masculinities and Influence of Home. EdD

C. Blickem 2008 - Stroke Stories: The potential of patient narratives for enhancing patient-centred care. PhD

C. Horne 2007 - A journey through change: developing knowledge to inform a return to nursing curriculum through action research. EdD

J. Castañeda-Mayo 2006 - Understanding the Figure of the Mexican Woman Academic: A Story of Success and Constraint. PhD

P. McClung 2006 - Linking voice and form: the use of the “Impertinent Predicate” as perspective for leaving or staying as a special education classroom teacher. EdD

J. Moore 2006 - An exploration of lecturer as facilitator within the context of problem-based learning. EdD

A. Ross 2006 - An insider ethnographic study of a primary care trust’s experience of aiming to become a learning organisation. EdD

J. Cross 2005 - Participant narratives on the impact of a pulmonary rehabilitation programme. EdD

J. Hardie 2005 - Developing boys’ attitudes towards writing in the foundation stage. EdD

External Activities

Executive Editor & Editorial Board member, Cambridge Journal of Education (2013-) 

Executive Editor, Digital Culture and Education (2017-) 

External examiner for Cambridge University, Advanced Diploma in Research Theory and Practice, Institute for Continuing Education (2019-) 

External panel member for Periodic Review of the MSc in Health and Medical Education, University of Hertfordshire (2016) 

External examiner for Ed.D course, Anglia Ruskin University (2009-12) 

Doctoral examinations (Sussex, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, Queen’s Belfast, MMU, Manchester) 

Areas of Expertise

Posthumanism, Postcolonial and feminist theory, Futures Studies; post-qualitative research, speculative methods, participatory approaches and ethnography.

Teaching Interests

Most of Dr. Priyadharshini’s teaching is at the postgraduate level, contributing to the Ed.D course, Ph.D seminars and advanced research training events. She is the EDU lead for the MRes in Social Sciences. She also leads the BA year 3 module ''Constructions of Childhood' and supervises dissertations/theses across BA, MA and doctoral programmes. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action