Dr. Neelam Raina is an Associate Professor of Design and Development at Middlesex University, London and a visiting Fellow at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics.
Neelam’s research interests include conflict, security, peace building, material cultures, gender, and livelihood generation. She works mainly in South Asia with a focus on Kashmir where she has conducted primary research over the last two decades both in Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmir. The Women, Peace and Security Agenda is key to Neelam’s work. Her research seeks to foreground voices of vulnerable and marginalised women within fragile, conflict affected areas.
Dr Raina has led several funded research projects which examine material and social practices through which Muslim women in conflict areas reproduce themselves on a daily and generational basis and through which the social relations and material bases of capitalism are renewed to understand both the costs of conflict and the connections between vastly different sites of production. Her work allows connections to be built between, creative home-based workers who are largely seen as peripheral, to development economics, and on the fringes of formal employment and contributors to GDP; to the larger notions of peace building, countering and preventing violent extremism, poverty spirals and conflict theory through culturally significant, socially relevant practices. Raina has also worked in Kurdistan and Southern Iraq, on the impact of the long-standing conflict in Iraq from the perspective of the Iraqi and Kurdish craftspeople. Her research looked at socio-economic changes in Iraq’s craft tradition, with a special focus on the craftswomen of Samawah in the south and Erbil in the Kurdish north https://www.ucl.ac.uk/history/news/2018/aug/nahrein-network-announces-first-funded-research-projects Raina’s work explores notions of healing, trauma, peace and reflection through the embodied practices of making, using material culture and traditional knowledge as the underpinning for approaching violence and peace building and for sustainable income generation, that in turn could contribute towards socio-economic reconstruction and post-conflict development.
Neelam has a Ph.D in Design and Development, and a Masters in Design and Manufacture from De Montfort University, Leicester. She also has a post graduate degree in Textile Design from NIFT in New Delhi. Raina did an undergraduate degree in History (Hons) at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and also holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. She has been a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security. She is an editor for the International Journal of Traditional Arts, and her new work ‘Creative Economies of Culture in South Asia – Performers and Craftspeople’ comes out in 2021. Raina serves on the strategic advisory boards of research think tanks and multi donor projects as well as on advisory boards of development aid projects.
Her most current research can be viewed here http://laajverd.org/cultureandconflict/dispatches.html this is a project about 'Culture and Conflict' also has an online exhibition - Practices of Making While the project looks at the craftperson and the value of culture in their lives, this exhibit looks at the story of the craft that is made up of time, matter and motivation. It looks at craft as a living thing. A living thing that has several makers within its creative process. This exhibit revisits the relationship between the tools, material, the land, and the hand who makes it while also arguing for each being an actor with agency and all woven together in their context. It removes the focus from the individual which is the craftsperson and places it in the relation between the actors. Practices of Making is an exhibition linked to the Culture and Conflict project funded by the UKRI Gender Justice and Security Hub, Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) that features a curated collection of craft practices. This research was carried out by Laajverd in Upper Chitral Valley, by Paiman in Charsadda and Swat, by Association of War Affected Women (AWAW) in Batticaloa and Mannar, by Women for Peace and Participation (WPP) in Kabul and Kandahar, and by Yakjah in Jammu and Kashmir.
Raina is an activist and has been working on assisting her Afghan colleagues on the GCRF Gender, Justice and Security hub in finding safety since the collapse of the government in August 2021. She gave oral evidence in UK parliament's Defence Select Committee about the UK's withdrawl from Afghanistan in November 2021.