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Institute of Criminology



Kanupriya Sharma is a doctoral student at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK and a recipient of the Gates-Cambridge scholarship. She completed her MPhil in Criminological Research from the Institute in 2018 obtained an MA in Social Work in Criminology and Justice from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in 2015 where she was awarded a Gold medal for her academic performance.

Kanupriya has over five years of field experience in the areas of social justice, community welfare and penal reform and has previously been appointed as a Chief Minister’s Urban Leaders Fellow with the Delhi Commission for Women. She has been a strong advocate for decolonisation of the discipline and founded the ‘Cambridge Decolonising Criminology Network’ at the University of Cambridge in January 2020 with the aim to encourage non-western, indigenous, and subaltern criminological scholarship. Recently, she was awarded the Cambridge Vice-Chancellors Social Impact Award, 2022 for her contribution to decolonial work in the University and for demonstrating exceptional achievement and commitment to positive social change in academia.

Apart from this, Kanupriya has been recently appointed as a senior social welfare consultant at LAW Foundation, India that aims to provide free socio-legal aid to prisoners on remand in Bihar, India. She has also been involved as a mentor in Project Edu-access that aims to tackle the issue of unequal access to foreign education for marginalised sections of the population in India.


Kanupriya’ research focuses on exploring the intersections of gender identity, cultural agency, familial and community honour in the lives of incarcerated women in India through the lens of their prison-borne intimate relationships. More specifically, her PhD project focuses on how women use their social networks and cultural capital inside prison to engage in intimate relationships/ form new marital alliances with male prisoners, male security guards and men outside and the meaning these relationships hold in the lives of women within the broader socio-cultural context of India. Through data collected from ethnographic interviews with 115 women across seven prisons in two states of India, Kanupriya’s research situates the lives of incarcerated women within the cultural frameworks of violence, hope and survival. She is supervised by Dr. Caroline Lanskey at the Institute of Criminology.


Key publications: 

Sharma, K. (2022) The Many Tales of 'Love': Prison, Survival & Resistance. In M. Bandyopadhyay & R. Mehta (Eds.) Women, Incarcerated: Narratives From India (pp. 139-173) Orient Blackswan.

Blog on my journey to starting the Cambridge Decolonising Criminology Network:

Other publications: 

Sharma, K. (2022, March). ‘Blurring’ or ‘Pushing’ the boundaries? Undertaking prison ethnography during and post-pandemic. Paper presented at the ESRC-DTP Conference, Cambridge.

Sharma, K. (2022, May). ‘Love’ in adversity: Exploring the significance of prison-borne heterosexual relationships in the lives of incarcerated women in India. Paper Presented at the Groves Conference of Marriage and Family, Bahamas.

Sharma, K (2022, September). Beyond the Sensorial: Exploring the Role of Cultural Intuitiveness in Prison Ethnography. Paper presented at the 5th Annual Ethnographies of Crime & Control conference.

Sharma, K (2022, September): Negotiating ‘love’ behind bars: Exploring women’s incarceration experiences through the lens of intimate relationships. Paper presented at the European Society of Criminology Annual Conference, Malaga.