Vani S. Kulkarni, Ph.D.

Vani S. Kulkarni, Ph.D.


McNeil 223


Ph.D. Sociology (with distinction), University of Pennsylvania
M.Phil Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India
B.A. (Honors) Sociology, Miranda House, University of Delhi, India

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Vani S. Kulkarni is a lecturer on sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and Senior Fellow in Urban Ethnography Project in sociology at department Yale University and a. She holds a PhD with distinction from the University of Pennsylvania. She has received prestigious awards and has held research fellowships at Penn, Harvard, and Yale. She has also been a consultant for the Asian Development Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development at the United Nations. Her research lies at the intersection of Health (Global and International); Urban Education; Race and Caste; Gender; Identity and Inequality; and Development and Democracy. She has published in the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and in several peer-reviewed journals, has coauthored two books, and her writings have appeared as encyclopedia entries, policy reports for the United Nations, and as Opinion Editorials.

Her current research constitutes of two distinct research streams, in two diverse cultural contexts: health insurance in India and urban education system in the US. Both projects ethnographically examine the implications of formal, top-down policies in the everyday lives of people who are embedded in it. For instance, the health insurance policy project in India aims to explore ethnographically the value of the first National Public Insurance Program, which India adopted just two years before the US adopted expansion of its public health insurance system, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, and which represents the universal healthcare agenda advocated by WHO. The collaborative study, funded by University of Chicago sheds light on the puzzle of why, despite the potential for health insurance to engender better health outcomes for individuals and groups, the uptake remains low. The second ongoing project is an ethnographic study of school choices in inner city Philadelphia. This study seeks to understand the lived reality of school choice policy by exploring its implications for parents, teachers, students, and school administrators, in order to arrive at a critical, nuanced understanding of what it means to be part of an urban school environment in a constrained educational system.

She has taught courses on Introduction to Sociology; Medical Sociology; Global Public Health; Race & Ethnic Relations; Sociological Theory; and Social Capital and Democracy.