Photo of Dr Rebecca Williams

Dr Rebecca Williams

Research interests

My main research interests are in the history of health and medicine, particularly issues relating to reproduction, the history of modern South Asia, and the history of development. My current main area of research is population control interventions in postcolonial India.

My PhD research, which was supported by an AHRC doctoral award, addressed the establishment of population control programmes in post-independence India. My thesis, ‘Revisiting the Khanna Study: Population and Development in India, 1953-60’, examined how and why India became a ‘laboratory’ for population control intervention in the post-war period, for transnational organisations and the Government of India alike.

During my PhD, I also began working on a project that examines how and why population control served as a crucial point of intervention during the Indian ‘Emergency’ of 1975-77, when millions were sterilised. An article from that project, entitled 'Storming the Citadels of Poverty: Family Planning under the Emergency in India, 1975-77', has recently been published in the Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 73, Issue 2 (May 2014). 

Recent Talks and Conference Papers

  • ‘The Production of India as a Laboratory for Population Control’, Spaces of Technoscience Workshop, National University Singapore, 21st-22nd July 2014  
  • 'Population Control and the State in 1950s India: Producing Consent through "Unmet Needs”’, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine seminar series, University of Oxford, 19th May 2014    
  • ‘The “inarticulate premise”: family planning under the Emergency in India, 1975-77’, British Association of South Asian Studies Annual Conference, Royal Holloway, 2nd-4th April 2014 
  • ‘Producing a Population Laboratory: The Khanna Study, Harvard School of Public Health and the “Epidemiology of Population”, 1953-1960,’ Historical Demography Seminar Series, Centre for History in Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 4th December 2013