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Dr Laila Kadiwal
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom
  • Senior Teaching Fellow
  • IOE - Education, Practice & Society
  • UCL Institute of Education

Dr. Laila Kadiwal works on the intersections of identity and education in conflict-affected settings, mainly in Tajikistan, India, Pakistan and the UK. She examines forms,  policies, practices, and discourses of ‘othering,’ in and through education. Dr. Kadiwal has specialist interests in the role of education, youth and teachers in conflict and peacebuilding in the global South and in the issue of education and conflict in Muslim contexts. She is particularly interested in how the complex identities of individuals, are selectively constructed and contextualised as a powerful mechanism for the mobilisation of support from the broader communities, as a way to polarise or unite communities in the context of global political, economic, ecological and cultural imperialism, authoritarianism, neoliberalism, and nationalism.  Her interest lies in thinking through how an ‘identity as freedom’ approach can help in addressing some of the questions of social divisions to facilitate the building of equitable and inclusive interrelationships. 

Dr. Kadiwal also co-runs Best Foot Music (https://www.bestfootmusic.net/), an intercultural music and arts organisation which connects refugee and marginalised musicians with diverse heritages with extensive music networks and communities in the UK. Art and music are essential avenues which give artists, and broader community groups opportunities to explore questions of identity, social cohesion and integration. 

Dr. Kadiwal was awarded her DPhil at the University of Sussex from School of Law, Politics, and Sociology in 2015. Her thesis examined the peacebuilding agency of teachers in a minority Muslim context. The research spanning three years involved in-depth interviews and focus groups with 21 trainee-teachers from 13 different countries. The study contributes to a niche in the existing literature on the role of teachers in social cohesion in Muslim communities. 

Dr. Kadiwal graduated in MSc Higher Education from the University of Oxford with distinctions in core subjects in 2009. Using ethnographic methods, her work examined the adaptation of the UK teacher education model – the Postgraduate Certificate in Education – to the context of Dubai. The study investigated the young people’s and tutors’ role as active agents in negotiating cross-cultural dynamics in the offshore educational setting.

Research Summary

Dr. Laila Kadiwal has carried out fieldwork in a variety of complex contexts worldwide, including; Tajikistan, Pakistan, UK, China, and Dubai. Although, a sociologist by training, most of her research projects apply an interdisciplinary, and a mixed-method approach.  Her insights are deepened by her lived experiences in low- or middle-income countries. She has worked as a development practitioner, and teacher and youth educator in the Global South for more than 15 years before moving to the UK. 

Dr. Kadiwal has carried out research for a range of academic, non-governmental and governmental organisations. Some of her key works include:

- 'Being young in Brexit Britain’ research project for the Centre for Global Youth at IOE-UCL. 

- Research Consortium on Education and Peacebuilding- a partnership between UNICEF and the University of Amsterdam, the University of Sussex and the University of Ulster. 

- Internationalisation of Chinese Higher Education for the Higher Education Academy, the UK in the People’s Republic of China.

-‘Negotiating the Nation: Education and National Identity in Post-Soviet Tajikistan’.

Teaching Summary

I teach on the modules, namely, ‘Education and International Development: Concepts, theories and issues’, ‘Education and Development in Asia’, ‘Education in Muslim Communities’ and ‘Education, Conflict and Fragility’. In addition, I have lectured on ‘Youth in a Globalising World’ and ‘The Teacher in Policy and Research’.

I also coordinate the ‘Education and Development in Asia’ module at IOE-UCL. 

Prior to joining IOE-UCL, I taught undergraduate students ‘Foundations of Sociology’ at the University of Sussex and ‘Sociology of the Life Course’ at the University of Brighton. I also co-convened two modules: 'Education for Development: Aid, Policy and the Global Agenda'  and 'Education, Peacebuilding and Conflict' at University of Sussex. I have also taught a ‘Research Methods’ course at Beijing Normal University and a short course on ‘Education in Muslim societies’ in Soderton University in Sweden.


Proficient in English, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu and Marathi languages.

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