Tanushree Sarkar

Tanushree is a brown woman, wearing a blue saree with a black sweater. She has clear spectacles on and long leaf-shaped earrings. She is standing with her arms crossed, in front of a college building

My research examines the implications of the global spread of educational theories, policies, and practices for social justice, teachers' work, and the experiences of children with disabilities in schools. I study the relationship between teachers, policy, and pedagogy for inclusive and social justice education in the global South. 

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, University of Missouri. I have a doctorate in Community Research and Action from the Department of Human and Organizational Development at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. I graduated with an MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Lady Shri Ram College for Women.

Through my research, I engage with questions such as:

This website includes my CV, links to my writing, and resources I have developed for teacher professional development for inclusive education. 

Theoretical and methodological orientation

My research draws on critical disability studies, comparative and international education, decolonial, post-colonial, and Southern theory, feminist theory, and policy sociology.

My scholarship is embedded in my experiences of engaging with and navigating my identities as a disabled woman with class and caste privilege in India.

My research methods are rooted in decolonial and critical methodologies that emphasize power-sharing with participants and eschew damage-centered and deficit-oriented perspectives toward minoritized and marginalized groups.

A large empty field with 3 boys in school uniform walking through it.
Tanushree taking field notes on her laptop
A desk with colored sheets, pens, a laptop, a recorder, an iPad, a duster, and index cards. This is preparation for a worskhop.
A desk with 3 screens - there is a Zoom meeting on the desktop and laptop screen. A OneNote page is open on the iPad screen that has a keyboard attached to it.

My doctoral dissertation, funded partially through the Margaret McNamara Education Grant, examines how teachers enact and interpret inclusion and disability within school-NGO partnerships for inclusive education through the lens of time and temporality.


It is about time: Teacher stories of enacting inclusive education in India 

Inclusive education examines the ways in which educational policies and practices construct and respond to difference. Policies and practices for inclusive education challenge the spatial segregation of difference, emphasizing approaches for children with and without disabilities to learn together in the same school and classroom. However, there is little examination of the ways in which time and temporality segregate, exclude, and constrain responses to difference in schools and classrooms. In this dissertation, I examine inclusive education through a temporal lens. Further, as an approach originating in the global North, there is a need to examine the global and local tensions involved in inclusive education as a practice in the global South. 

I conducted ethnographic case studies at school-NGO partnerships across the two sites in India through a comparative case study approach, carrying out 78 interviews with teachers, 75 classroom observations, eight teacher workshops, and 16 interviews with NGO staff over eight months of fieldwork. 

The dissertation demonstrates how teachers’ inclusive practices and sensemaking around dis/ability and inclusion can be located within temporal structures that constrain teacher actions. I demonstrate how the operations of time in policies, schools, and classrooms exclude children in three ways, becoming out of pace, out of sync, and out of age. I highlight the two temporal responses to dilemmas of difference in enacting inclusive education described by teachers: inclusion as uniformity to achieve curriculum times and inclusion as a means to respect individual times. I propose the notion of dhyāna as a culturally sustaining concept to understand the contexts within which the dilemma of difference is determined and resolved in the Indian context. Further, teachers navigate their past experiences and schemas of whole classroom teaching and teacher-centered pedagogy and the futures of inclusive child-centered pedagogy introduced by the NGO. I argue that in this tussle between the past and future, the present material, structural, and temporal conditions of teachers’ work are obscured. 

Overall, this dissertation serves to balance the spatial turn in inclusive education, highlights the functioning of temporal biases and their interactions with difference, and outlines the limitations and possibilities of teachers enacting inclusive education.