Reena Kukreja

Reena Kukreja

Associate Professor

PhD (Cultural Studies), Queen’s University

Mackintosh-Corry Hall, A403

Queen's University

Global Development Studies

613-533-6000, extension x78700

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Curriculum Vitae (PDF 222 KB)

Dr. Kukreja’s current research examines the intersections of xenophobia, Islamophobia, securitization of borders, and the politics of citizenship and migration in shaping hierarchies of masculinities and masculine identity formation among undocumented South Asian male migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India in Greece. This research interest, driven by the political economy of migration and discourses of race, identity, and citizenship, looks at questions such as: What role do economic dispossessions and dislocations in the home countries play in forcing some groups of men, more than others, to undertake perilous journeys and become undocumented migrants.; How does the intersection of restrictive state immigration and temporary labour regimes with discourse of racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia create multiple precarities for this set of differentially racialized men.; How are ‘minority masculinities’ portrayed as threats that need containment with a regime of border controls and restrictive family formations.; and do this set of men engage in a politics of citizenship making demands to political, social, and economic rights despite their status as non-citizens either through activism, non-violent protest and/or subversive resistance strategies.

Her second research examines the role of religion, caste, and political economy in shaping relational male identities and masculinity among lower classes of rural Indian men in contemporary North India. This project emerges as an offshoot from her doctoral research in the two North Indian provinces of Haryana and Rajasthan. Focussing on the same region, it analyses the crisis of masculinities faced by lower classes of rural Indian men from the early 1990s when India embarked on neoliberal reforms. Fears of losing hegemonic dominance, loss of livelihood options, and/or patriarchal masculine stature have aggravated tensions between historically opposed caste and religious groups such as the dominant Hindu Jat caste, the religious minority of the Meo, and the Dalits (formerly untouchables). Situating this study within the agrarian crisis throws light on how male privilege and masculine norms are dislocated by market-led growth policies. In particular, it examines how the intersections of caste, religion, Hindutva, and neoliberal economy define, shape, or bring fluidity in the way various hierarchies of masculinity, either hegemonic, subordinate, complicit, marginalized, or dissident are enacted, or contested by these men.

Her doctoral work, Dispossession of Matrimonial Choice in Contemporary India: Examining the Link Between Cross-region Marriages, Neoliberal Capitalism, and New Forms of Gender Subordination focussed on marriage migration in rural North India. This emergent phenomenon, transgressive on counts of breaching customary marriage rules on caste endogamy and marriage within one’s religion, has witnessed low-class rural Hindu and Muslim men travel across India to seek wives from lower castes, other ethnicities, and/or different religions. Dr. Kukreja’s research makes theoretical and empirical contributions in feminist political economy and migration studies by foregrounding dispossession in the most intimate of human relations – marriage. Her study, based on extensive research in bride-sending and receiving regions, demonstrates that the forces of accumulation unleashed by the neoliberal project in India have led to a “dispossession of matrimonial choice,” a term that she employs to define the constriction of marital choices particularly for women from historically marginalized groups such as the Dalits (politically-aware term for low castes) and Muslims and led them to “voluntarily” opt for marriage migration. Her findings take to task Western feminist theorization on agency, victimhood, and trafficking. It presents an alternative framework to understanding how the migrating brides negotiate their multiple dislocations in the alien environment of North India, i.e. a macro analytical framework on the workings of neoliberalism, ethnocultural chauvinism, classism, and other social oppressions that shape the choices and vulnerabilities of poor, marginalized women worldwide.

Dr. Kukreja is cross-appointed as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Cultural Studies Program at Queen’s University. She is also Visiting Fellow at the International Migration Research Centre at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo.

Dr. Kukreja divides her time between teaching, research, and filmmaking. She has directed several award-winning documentaries on rural women in India and South Asia. She is currently completing her book manuscript, Partial Truths, Negotiated Existences: Examining Dispossession of Matrimonial Choice in Cross-Region Marriages in India (Cornell University Press, forthcoming).

I welcome graduate students interested in topics related to migration, masculinity, India, and gender in the Global South. I also welcome students in broad topics of interest related to caste, marriage-migration, and collaborative visual research methods.

Cross Appointed to the Department of Gender Studies and Cultural Studies

2020 SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) Insight Development Grant, $53,529.  Undocumented South Asian Male Migrants in Greece: Understanding Masculinity, Love, and Work in Troubled Times.

2020 SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) Connections Grant, $44, 384.  “This Is Evidence”: Photovoice by Undocumented South Asian Male Migrants In Greece.”


Partial Truths, Negotiated Existences: Examining Dispossession of Matrimonial Choice in Cross-Region Marriages in India (under advance contract, Cornell University Press). Undergoing revisions after receipt of reviewer comments,” 312 pages. Anticipated date of publication November 2020.


2020    Kukreja, Reena. “Migration has Stripped Us of Our Manhood: Contradictions of Failed Masculinity Among South Asian Male Migrants in Greece.” Men and Masculinities.

2019    Kukreja, Reena. 2018. “Visible Yet Invisible: The Disciplinary Mechanism of Self-Surveillance Among Undocumented South Asian Men in Rural Greece.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

2018    Kukreja, Reena. “An unwanted weed: children of cross-region unions confront intergenerational stigma of caste, ethnicity, and religion.” Journal of Inter Cultural Studies, 39(4): 382-398

2017    Kukreja, Reena. “Caste and cross-region marriages in Haryana: experience of Dalit cross-region brides in Jat households,” Modern Asian Studies, 52(2): 492-531.

Under review:

2020 Kukreja, Reena. “Recouping Masculinity: Understanding the Links Between Macho Masculinity and Self-Exploitation Among Undocumented South Asian Male Migrants in Greece.” Geoforum.

2020 Kukreja, Reena. “Colorism as Marriage Capital: Cross-Region Marriage-Migration in India and Dark-Skinned Migrant Brides.” Gender & Society.

Chapters in Edited Volumes

Kukreja, Reena. “An unwanted weed: children of cross-region unions confront intergenerational stigma of caste, ethnicity, and religion.” In (ed. Erica Chito Childs) The Boundaries of Mixedness: A Global Perspective, ed.; Routledge (forthcoming October 2021).

Encyclopedia Entry

Kukreja, Reena. “Meo Muslim, Mev, Mewati Muslim.” Database of Religious History Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia.

Book Reviews

Kukreja, Reena. Gender, Power and Identity: Essays on Masculinities in Rural North India by Prem Chowdhry, Men and Masculinities, March 2020


2013    Tied in a Knot: Narratives from Bride Seeking Regions of India  58 min. / India

Through the voices of migrating brides, the documentary examines an emergent trend of marriage migration in India and the resultant changing gender and caste relations.

Screenings with panel discussion
2013    SNID (Society for National & International Development), Department of Film & Media and Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada. (October)
2013    Education Committee, Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly (GTWA) and Centre for Feminist Research (CFR) York University, Toronto, Canada. (September)
2013    Festival of India, Ottawa, Canada (August)
2013    Ideas Left Outside Conference, Kingston, Canada (August)
2013    Gender and Development Module, South Asia and Patriarchy Course, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Australia. (May)
2013    IGNOU-SOITS Seminar Series, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, India
2013    Gender Studies Program, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India (March)
2013    Panjab University, Chandigarh, India (March)
2013    Action Aid International, India Office, New Delhi, India (March)
2013    Delhi University (Dayal Singh College), New Delhi, India (1 March)
2013    Premiere of the documentary at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India. (February)

2009    Delhi Bound For Work 58 min. / India & Canada

A collaborative film with migrant female domestic workers from rural Eastern India that describes the complex nature of their migration, marginalization from development process, and exploitation by placement agencies and employers.

Festival Screenings and Awards
2011  Winner Best Documentary Film – Dhan International Development Documentary Film Festival, India
2010  Winner Best Documentary Film – Jeevika Asia Livelihood Film Festival 2010, India
2011  Reframe Peterborough International Film Festival, Canada
2010  Economic Freedom Network Asia Conference 2010, Jakarta, Indonesia
2010  Tathya 2 – Short and Documentary Film Festival, India
2010  4th Tunis International Film Festival (FIFT- Festival International du Film du Tunis), Tunisia
2010  4th International Anthropology Film Festival, Canada
2010  5th Women’s International Film Festival, USA, 2010

2009    Becoming Independent 24 min. / Canada
The film chronicles the lives of three young adults with developmental disabilities from Kingston as they negotiate everyday living, work and love whilst confronting barriers that are a result of the stigma attached to developmental disabilities.

2004    From Work To School  20 min / India
The film examines child labour in the carpet weaving industry and the dynamics of involving rural communities in eliminating child labour. 

2003    Against All Odds / 40 min.  Changing Mindsets / 22 min.   No Looking Back / 12 min.
Produced for the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Asia Pacific Region, these three films document the processes set into motion by the UNDP’s South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme (SAPAP) in poor rural communities in South Asia. The three films, aimed at different target audiences and distribution channels, capture the different contours of the programme in six South Asian countries. 

2000    Seeds of Burden  25 min. / India
The film examines the exploitative use of young girls as farm labour in ‘cotton-seed’ production for transnational corporations in rural South India. 

Festival Screenings and Awards
2004  International Human Rights Festival, Kiev, Ukraine, 2004. Showcase documentary on girl-child labour.
2003  Human Rights Theme Selection, India International Film Festival, New Delhi

1999    Little Steps, A Giant Leap    27 min. / India
The film examines how street children work in unsafe work environments in New Delhi, India with no access to health-care, shelter or education.

1998    Childhood Regained    28 min. / India
A documentary examining child labour in the carpet industry of Mirzapur in India and the dynamics that force children into work.

1998    Naka, Naka, DuPont Naka  24 min. / India
Documents the agitation of people in Goa, India to successfully force DuPont, the American corporate giant, to give up setting a nylon production plant there. 

1997    Mountain Hymns        27 min. / India
The documentary examines how village communities in the mountainous province of Himachal Pradesh, India have evolved an elaborate system of rituals and cultural practices to manage their natural resources, nurture their environment and ensure its sustainability.

1996    Bridging Distance       27 min. / Canada
The film draws parallels between the experience of First Nations in Canada and Indigenous communities in Central and South America on human rights, environment, and culture. It highlights the initiatives taken by them to end their political and cultural isolation by forging links at a global level with similarly affected communities.

1995    Making Connections   27 min. / Canada
The film explores the history of the labour movement in South-eastern Ontario, Canada from the turn of the 20th century pose questions about its future directions.

1994    Sand in My Shoes       54 min. / Canada
The film, funded by the Human Rights Office of Queen’s University, investigates the subtle, everyday acts of racism experienced by students, faculty and staff belonging to Visible Minorities at Queens University. It also explores the racism inherent in the way the curriculum is structured.

1994    Raising Voices             27 min. / India
A sequel to “Whose River”, it documents the initiatives taken by village communities, especially women, living in the Angul-Talcher industrial belt of Orissa, India to protect their land and water sources from being irreversibly polluted.

1993    Whose River Is It Anyway?     28 min. / India
The film highlights the impact of industrialization on rural communities living in the Angul-Talcher industrial belt of Orissa, India as they lose their livelihoods, suffer from health hazards, and are displaced from their land.

1993    Tear It Up       28 min. / Canada
The film, made just after the NAFTA agreement was signed, focuses on the implications for the Canadian labour force by the relocation of the big industries to Mexico.

1991    Money in My Pocket   28 min. / India
Highlights how a group of women from a marginalised Indigenous community in rural Rajasthan resist exploitation by moneylenders and upper castes in their region.

1988    We Will Build This Wall         28 min. / India
The film follows a group of women construction workers in North India as they fight to overcome cultural taboos and patriarchal restrictions preventing them from being trained as masons.