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Dr Meena Dhanda

Dr Meena Dhanda

Course Leader Philosophy; Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Politics

  • Email address
  • Phone number 01902 3503
  • Location MC235
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts
  • Institute School of Humanities
  • Areas of expertise

    Empirically informed social, moral and political philosophy

Meena Dhanda arrived in the UK from Punjab, India in 1987 with an award of the Commonwealth Scholarship for her doctoral work in Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford University. She was a Rhodes Junior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, before taking up a full-time lecturing position at the University of Wolverhampton in 1992, progressing to a Readership (Associate Professorship) in 2010.

Meena is engaged in doing empirically informed social, moral and political philosophy. She is internationally recognised as a leading academic in the development of diaspora dalit studies. She does philosophy with a ‘practical intent’ both in her teaching and research, by exploring practical and theoretical aspects of identity and cultural politics in relation to gender, race, class and caste. Within philosophy she aims to facilitate the critical inclusion of unfairly neglected thinkers drawing upon diverse traditions of thought in her areas of interest. Her doctoral thesis at Oxford University was published as a book The Negotiation of Personal Identity. She has made a significant contribution to the debate on gender quotas in the Indian parliament through her edited book Reservations for Women. She was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for a primary research project ‘Caste Aside: Dalit Punjabi Identity and Experience’ concluded in 2012 and resulting in a number of publications.

In 2013-14, as a Principal Investigator of UK Equality and Human Rights Commission project ‘Caste in Britain’, Meena led a consortium of academic experts from five leading universities, producing two substantial reports - internationally noted and widely discussed – on the proposed inclusion of a provision in the Equality Act 2010, to protect British citizens against caste discrimination.  

She is regularly invited to deliver keynotes, guest lectures and seminar papers in the UK and abroad, and uses her extensive experience of interacting with a diverse audience to enrich her teaching. She is a valued member of professional organisations, an executive member of the Society for Women in Philosophy UK and has served as an elected council member of the British Association for South Asian Studies. In 2014-16, Meena was the Chair of the Black and Minority Ethnic Staff Network of the University of Wolverhampton. From 2016, she is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, U.K.

Meena is interested in guiding research in social, moral and political philosophy, cultural politics, feminism, philosophy of film, philosophy of religion, philosophy of law, theorists of anti-racism and anti-castism. She is equally at home in guiding research from a philosophical and/or a trans-disciplinary perspective.

  • The negotiation of personal identity, discussing Charles Taylor, Bernard Williams and Richard Rorty amongst others, and using as a core example the difficulty of conceptualising ‘Untouchable’ identity from the Indian social context.
  • Issues in feminist philosophy, including, gender quotas, crimes ‘in the name of honour’, cultural politics of the veil, sexual violence, embodiment, sex-selection, surrogacy
  • Caste discrimination, caste prejudice, anti-castism, link between caste and race
  • Understanding disparities in student attainment with reference to BME students.
  • Theorists of anti-racism, anti-castism, anti-sexism (e.g. Fanon, Ambedkar, Le Doeuff, Young).
  • Philosophy of film
  • Rethinking the sacred, transgression, limits of the rational
  • Trans-disciplinary research (e.g. on runaway marriages, Punjabi dalits, Punjabiyat)

Recent Funded Research

  • Sept 2013 - Jan 2014 PI of consortium of researchers from 5 universities (Wolverhampton, SOAS, MMU, Goldsmiths, Middlesex); Award holder – Meena Dhanda; Funding body – The Equality and Human Rights Commission, U.K.; Programme – Research Reports; Title –Caste in Britain;
  • Sept 2010 - July 2012 Leverhulme Research Fellowship; Award holder - Meena Dhanda; Funding body - The Leverhulme Trust; Programme - Research Fellowship; Title - ‘Caste Aside: Dalit Punjabi Identity and Experience’;
  • Sept 2010 - June 2012 Co-I and Advisor; Award holder – Prof Glynis Cousin; Funding body – The Higher Education Authority; Programme – NTFS Stage Two Project funding; Title: 'Disparities in Student Attainment (DiSA) Project.';

Officer in Learned Societies:

2014-15 Member of Review Group, of the British Philosophical Society, for QAA Subject Benchmark (Philosophy).

Nov 2011-Nov 2014 Member of Council, British Association of South Asian Studies, U.K.

Sept 2003-present Branch Secretary of the Royal Institute of Philosophy (Wolverhampton branch) responsible for organising public lectures.

Sept 2000-present Member of the Executive, Society for Women in Philosophy, U.K.

Sept 2000-2007 Membership Secretary and Treasurer of the Society for Women in Philosophy, U.K.

Ordinary Member of Learned Societies (some not current):

British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS) UK; British Philosophical Association (BPA); British Sociological Association (BSA); European Association of South Asian Studies (EASAS); International Association of Political Psychology (IAPP); Punjab Research Group (Coventry) (PRG); Society for Applied Philosophy (SAP);

Editorial/Advisory Board Membership

1997-2004 Women’s Philosophy Review, ISSN 1369-4324.

2013-present South Asian Studies, ISSN 0266-6030

  • D.Phil. (Oxford University) on ‘The Negotiation of Personal Identity’.
  • NET: National Eligibility Test (in Philosophy); University Grants Commission, India, qualification for award of Junior Research Fellowship and eligibility for University level teaching.
  • MA in Philosophy, first class and first position in Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, India.
  • BA (Hons) in Economics, with Mathematics and English, (PU), Ludhiana, India.

Fellowships and Awards

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, U.K. (from 2016)
  • The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Staff Excellence Runner-up in the category of ‘Outstanding Contribution to Research’, University of Wolverhampton (2012 and 2014)
  • Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2010-12)
  • ERAS Fellowship, University of Wolverhampton (UW) (2007-8)          
  • Teaching Excellence Award for Innovation in Assessment, UW (2004)
  • Rhodes Junior Research Fellow (Philosophy) at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford (1990‑91)
  • Commonwealth Scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford University (1987-90)
  • Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, Panjab University, India (1985‑7)


  • Dhanda, M. Caste Aside: A Philosophical Study of Cultural Identity and Resistance of Punjabi Dalits New Delhi: Routledge. (Contracted - NYP).
  • Dhanda, M. (2008) The Negotiation of Personal Identity. Berlin: VDM Verlag Dr. Muller.
  • Dhanda, M. (2008) (edited) Reservations for Women. New Delhi: Kali Press/Women Unlimited.


Journal Articles

  • Waughray, A. and Dhanda, M. (2016) ‘Ensuring Protection against Caste Discrimination in Britain: Should the Equality Act 2010 be extended?’ International Journal of Discrimination and The Law, June/September, 16: 179-196. ISSN: 1358-2291. DOI: 10.1177/1358229116655654
  • Dhanda, M. (2015) ‘Anti-Castism and Misplaced Nativism: Mapping caste as an aspect of race’ Radical Philosophy, 192, July-Aug, 33-43, ISSN: 0300-211X
  • Dhanda, M. (2012c) ‘Runaway Marriages: A Silent Revolution?’ Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLVII No. 43, October 27, 100-108. ISSN 0012-9976. (Entered in REF 2014 Area Studies.)
  • Pawlett, W. and Dhanda, M. (2010a) ‘The Shared Destiny of the Radically Other: A Baudrillardian reading of ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Film-Philosophy, Vol 14, 2010, ISSN 1466-4615.
  • Dhanda, M. (2009) ‘Punjabi dalit youth: Social dynamics of transitions in identity’, Contemporary South Asia, Vol. 17, No. 1, March, 47—63. ISSN: 0958-4935. (Entered in REF 2014 Area Studies.)
  • Dhanda, M. (2008c) ‘What does the hatred/fear of the veil hide?’ Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol 1, Issue 2, December, 53—57. ISSN: 1757-0980.
  • Dhanda, M. (2008d) ‘Making Room by Adding Seats’, Seminar, No. 586, June, 39—43.
  • Dhanda, M. and Anderson, P. (2002)  ‘Bringing us into Twenty-first Century Feminism, with Joy and Wit’, an interview with Prof Michele Le Doeuff, Women's Philosophy Review, No. 30, 8—39. ISSN 1369-4324.
  • Dhanda, M. and Singh, P. (2001) ‘Left Perspectives in South Asia’, British Association for South Asian Studies Bulletin Vol. 4, No.1, Winter. ISSN 1461-8904.
  • Dhanda, M. (2000a) ‘Theorising with a Practical Intent: Philosophy, Politics and Communication’, an interview with Prof. Iris Marion Young, Women's Philosophy Review, No. 26. 6—27. ISSN 1369-4324. Available at:
  • Dhanda, M. (2000b) ‘Representation for Women: Should Feminists Support Quotas?’ in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.  XXXV, No. 33, August 12-18, 2969-2976. ISSN 0012-9976
  • Dhanda, M. (1998) ‘Justifications for Gender Quotas in Legislative Bodies: A Consideration of Identity and Representation’ in Women’s Philosophy Review, Special Issue on Feminist Political Philosophy Number 20, 44-61. ISSN 1369-4324
  • Dhanda, M. (1994a) ‘Arguments for and against sex-preselection’ in Women's Philosophy Review Issue No 11, June, 11-16. ISSN 1369-4324. Available at:
  • Dhanda, M. (1993) ‘L’éveil des intouchables en Inde’ (translated by Isabelle di Natale) in Catherine Audard (ed) Le respect : De l’estime à la déférence: une question de limite. Paris : les Éditions Autrement - Série Morales Nº 10 – Février 1993 – 120 F.  Pp. 130-145. ISSN : 1154-5763.

Book Chapters

  • Dhanda, M. (2014c) ‘Certain Allegiances, Uncertain Identities: The Fraught Struggles of Dalits in Britain’. In Tracing the New Indian Diaspora. Ed. by Om Prakash Dwivedi. New York: Editions Rodopi. pp. 99-119. ISBN 978-90-420-3888-2
  • Singh, P. and Dhanda, M. (2014d) ‘Sikh Culture and Punjabiyat’. In Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Edited by Pashaura Singh and Louis E. Fenech. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 482- 492. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8 .
  • Dhanda, M. (2013a) ‘Caste and International Migration, India to the UK’. In The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration (Four Volumes). Editor-in-chief: Prof. Immanuel Ness. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. ISBN: 978-1-4443-3489-0
  • Dhanda, M. (2012b) ‘Do only South Asians Reclaim Honour? State and non -state initiatives against killing in the name of honour in the U.K.’. In 'Honour' and Women's Rights: South Asian Perspectives ed. by Manisha Gupte, Ramesh Awasthi and Shraddha Chickerur. Pune: MASUM and IDRC. Pp.359-412. ISBN 978-93-81352-02-1 (Entered in REF 2014 Area Studies.)
  • Dhanda, M. (2012a) ‘Negotiating Practical Identities’ in Manidipa Sen (ed) Self-Knowledge and Agency. New Delhi: Decent Books. Pp.277-302. ISBN 978-81-86921-59-3
  • Dhanda, M. (1994b) ‘Openness, Identity and Acknowledgement of Persons’ in Kathleen Lennon and Margaret Whitford (eds) Knowing the Difference: Feminist Perspectives in Epistemology, London and New York: Routledge. Pp. 249-264. ISBN: 0-415-08988-3

Recent Other Publications

Recent Keynotes, Conference Presentations, Invited Guest Lectures

  • Dhanda, M. (2016) ‘An Inescapable Comparison: Casteism and Racism in the Diaspora’. (Religious Diversity Colloquium Winter 2016-17), Invited colloquium, Max Planck Institute of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, 22 November (forthcoming).
  • Dhanda, M. (2016) ‘A note on counter-ritual: Ambedkar’s legacy’ at an international conference on Agency and Crisis, University of Wolverhampton, 19 October.
  • Dhanda, M. (2016) ‘The limits of what we can claim to know about caste relations in the U.K.’ at an international seminar on Caste in South Asia and its diasporas organised by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford, 4 July.
  • Dhanda, M. (2016) ‘Stigmatised Identities, Collective Hypocrisies and Structural Oppressions: Some Philosophical Negotiations’, Keynote at the international conference on Philosophy of ‘Race’ and Racism, University of Oxford, 27-29 June.
  • Dhanda, M. (2016) ‘Doing Philosophy with a Practical Intent: Doing socially engaged philosophy’ Keynote to the 2016 Ratio and 7th Experimental Philosophy as Applied Philosophy international conference, University of Reading, 23-24 April.
  • Dhanda, M. (2016) ‘Doing Philosophy with a Practical Intent: For, By and With Whom?’ Keynote to the Edinburgh University Philosophy Society UG conference on Women and Minorities in Philosophy, University of Edinburgh, 21 April.
  • Dhanda, M. (2016) ‘Let’s Talk about Caste’, Inaugural Public Lecture, Ambedkar Study Circle, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, 4 April.
  • Dhanda, M. (2016) Invited panellist ‘Race Equality in the UK’, to a day conference of a British Academy and The Leverhulme Trust funded project on ‘Social Equality’, UCL, 14 January.
  • Dhanda, M (2015) 'Can the history of caste prejudice be written?', Black History Month public lecture, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, 7 October.
  • Dhanda, M. (2015) 'Fanon and Ambedkar: Combatting Racism and Casteism', Guest Lecture at Fanon Workshop, University College London, 19 September.
  • Dhanda, M. (2015) ‘”It is far too late for me, but I would like you to share my experience with the greater community”: the silenced conduits of pain’ at the international interdisciplinary seminar -‘Minds of Caste’, 4 September, UCL, London
  • Waughray, A. and Dhanda, M. (2015) ‘Capturing Caste in Law: Caste and the Equality Act 2010’ at the Forum for Research into Equality and Diversity, University of Chester, one-day conference The Equality Act 2010: five-years on, 22 June.
  • Dhanda, Meena (2015) 'The varieties of Stakeholder responses to the proposed UK legislation on caste' presentation to an international workshop on 'Spaces of Caste in India and the UK: Persistence and Resistance', University of Warwick, on 21 April.
  • Dhanda, M. (2015) ‘Between Other Voices’ Keynote at the Society for Women in Philosophy conference on ‘Philosophy and its Others’ at the University of Essex, March 27-28.
  • Dhanda, M. (2014) ‘The changing role of women in India: women in government and girls in the family’ Guest Lecture at The Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development Two Cultures seminar series, Somerville College, Oxford, 19th November.
  • Dhanda, M. (2014) ‘Enacting legal protection against Caste-discrimination: Why the delay?’ Guest Lecture at the International seminar on Critical Philosophy of Race: Here and Now, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 5-6 June. (Podcast)
  • Dhanda, M. (2014) ‘Caste discrimination, the Equality Act 2010, and the implications of Tirkey V Chandok’ Invited panellist with Nessa Sharrett - Employment Tribunal Judge, Chris Molsom - the Counsel in Tirkey, Prof David Mosse, Annapurna Waughray and Barry Harwood-Gray at MMU Law School, 1 May.
  • Dhanda, M. (2014) ‘Reflections on Caste in Britain: Challenges Posed by Contesting Narratives’. Keynote at Dr B.R. Ambedkar Social Justice conference, at NALSAR, University of Law, Hyderabad, India. 13 April.
  • Mosse, D., Dhanda, M. and Waughray, A. (2014) ‘Negotiating Caste: Public Discourse and Legal Change in the UK’. British Association of South Asian Studies Annual conference, Royal Holloway, University of London. 3 April.
  • Dhanda, M. (2014) ‘Facing Prejudice: Negotiating the Cultural Politics of Identity’, Guest Lecture at Manchester Metropolitan University, Feminism and Philosophy mini-series, 3 March.
  • Dhanda, M. (2014) ‘Caste: A Global Overview’, Keynote at 2-day conference on Christian Responsibility to Dalits and Caste Discrimination, invited by Lord Bishop Richard Harries, St George’s Cathedral, London, 18 February.
  • Dhanda, M. (2013) ‘Legal Protection Against Caste Discrimination in Britain’, British Society of Criminology Conference, 2-4 July, University of Wolverhampton.
  • Dhanda, M. (2013) ‘Unexpected returns on leaving oneself’ Guest panellist on ‘Migrants and Philosophy Panel Discussion: Minds and Borders’ Migration Museum Project, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, 14 November.
  • Dhanda, M. (2013) ‘Research on Caste in the UK’ at the Experts’ Seminar – EHRC funded Caste in Britain project, SOAS, London, 19 October. Revised version presented to Stakeholders’ Workshop on 9 November.
  • Dhanda, M. (2013) ‘Dalit Diaspora in Britain’ Special Guest Lecture to Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 13 January.
  • Dhanda, M. (2013) ‘Identity and Difference: the case of dalits in Britain’. Special Guest Lecture, Indian Council of Social Science Research (Regional Centre), Panjab University, Chandigarh, 9 January.
  • Dhanda, M. (2012) ‘Aadi Dharam Samaj: the social vision of Darshan Ratan Ravan’ to an international workshop ‘Harnessing Counter-Culture to Construct Identity: Mapping Dalit Cultural Heritage in Contemporary India’, International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, 7-8 December.
  • Dhanda, M. (2012) ‘Certain Allegiances, Uncertain Identities: Dalits resisting domination in Britain’ to an international workshop on ‘Dalit Cultural Identity Politics in the 21st Century’, Uppsala University, Forum for South Asian Studies, Sweden, 15 November.
  • Dhanda, M. (2012) ‘Being a dalit in Ludhiana, Punjab’, 22nd European Conference for South Asian Studies, Lisbon, 25-28 July.
  • Dhanda, M. (2012) ‘Held back by in-fighting: the fraught struggles for recognition of dalits in Wolverhampton', School of Oriental and African Studies, 25-26 June.
  • Dhanda, M (2012) ‘The Limits of Human Rights: A Cautionary Note’ (virtual recorded delivery) at International Seminar on Prominence of Human Rights in the Criminal Justice System, Dr B.R. Ambedkar University, Agra, 30-31 March.
  • Dhanda, M (2012) ‘Dubbing Crimes Against Women as “Honour Related”: Pro-women or Anti-Community?’ British Sociological Association, Leeds, 11-13 April.
  • Dhanda, M. (2012) 'Run-away marriages: a silent revolution?', Special Guest Lecture to Centre for Women's Development Studies, New Delhi, 6 Jan.

Current Teaching

  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Thinking Ethically
  • Topics in Non-European Philosophy (from 2017)
  • Ethical Virtues, Principles and Judgement
  • Law, Morality and Society
  • Body, Sexuality and Identity
  • Self and Other: the Demands of Social Justice
  • Research Methods (MRes)
  • Philosophy of the Human Sciences (MRes)

Research student supervision (University of Wolverhampton)

  • Gomersall, Chris (F/T) ‘Between Nature and Freedom: Culture and the question of moral progress in Rousseau, Kant and Hegel’ as 2nd Supervisor; successful completion 2016.
  • Soni, Roma (P/T) ‘Reveil to Reveal: An investigation of the visual representation of the veil’; as Director of Studies; expected completion in 2017.
  • Goldsmield Z., Anita (F/T) Rendering the invisible visible: post-modern and non-modern theories meet hidden disabilities; expected completion in 2020.

Public Engagement

  • 2014 Dhanda, M. Conducted a workshop on ‘Caste in the UK’ at the Methodist Women in Britain conference on “Caste Out?” a one-day Conference focussing on the UN Millennium Development Goals through the lens of Dalit Solidarity, Saturday, 18th October 2014, Codsall Methodist Church.
  • 2014 Invited participant in meeting to discuss the EHRC Caste in Britain report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dalits (Chaired by Lord Bishop Richard Harries), 1 April.
  • 2013 Invited participation in the CasteWatch UK Conference: Tackling Caste Discrimination - Voice of the Community, Coventry, 29th June.
  • 2013 Invited talk at the joint celebration of 122nd Birth Anniversary of Babasaheb and 2557th Buddha Jayanti organized by the UK Ambedkarite Group, at Holy Trinity Church Hall, Southall on 9th June.
  • 2013 Invited talk at the 122nd Birth Anniversary celebrations of Dr B.R. Ambedkar by Ravidassia Association Coventry and Warwick on 17 May.
  • 2012 Invited talk ‘Learning from Ambedkar’ on the 121st birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, at the Ambedkar Memorial Committee, Buddha Vihara, Upper Zoar Street, Wolverhampton on 22 April.
  • 2012 Public lecture on ‘The Honour Code: Let’s Crack it!’ Invited lecture to the Wolverhampton Philosophy Society, 20 March.
  • 2011 Invited address to a mass meeting of Punjabi Dalits (50000+) at the annual Yogima Perv of the Aadi Dharam Samaj on 31 December.

Media Appearances