Nikita Malik
Time spent working within banking and finance environments increased Nikita Malik’s interest in debt, and its power to constrain the freedom of individuals. She realised that the way in which freedom is recognized and utilized as a structure has effects on empirical reality, as well as considerable implications for the pursuit of human welfare. Her doctoral thesis revolves around defining and measuring ‘freedom’ in the South Asian labour market, paying particular attention to cases where social stratification limits agency and interaction. Her work focuses on the creation of a theoretical paradigm of freedom in the sense of a basic, deterministic perspective (Kuhn, 1962), and aims to strengthen the link between existing frameworks and data. As such, it is hoped that the way in which freedom evolves empirically can transform adopted concepts and systems. Nikita Malik is a PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and a member of Darwin College, Cambridge.

Research/teaching interests

The recognition and utilisation of freedom as a structure, theoretical paradigms of freedom, pre-capitalist and capitalist social formations, feudal systems of patronage, ‘deproletarianisation’, decent work pilot programs, class and caste interactions, and the valuation of freedom in South Asia.


PhD University of Cambridge 2012-present
MSc University of Oxford, South Asian Studies, 2009-2010
BA (Hons) University of Oxford, Economics and Management, 2006-2009


Fluent in English, Spanish, and Hindi.

Entries by Nikita Malik

The UK and Europe: Friends With Benefits

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2016 | 12:28 PM

The dilemmas and arguments for and against Brexit have all too often been coloured by black and white alternatives. Economic doom versus prosperity, complete social oblivion versus complete social cohesion, and control versus abdication of responsibility - all of this is batted backwards and forwards relentlessly, colouring the facts and...

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One Step Behind: Understanding the Shape of Terrorism

(0) Comments | Posted January 16, 2015 | 10:36 AM

Terrorism, with its many forms, has the same general shape. Bombings, hostage taking, assassinations, and armed attacks are all perpetuated for religious, political, or ideological goals - sometimes, a combination of all three. The threat of violence, stemming from the root word 'violate', is used as a tactic of coercion...

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When Education Meets Catastrophe

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2014 | 11:53 AM

In his Outline of History, H.G. Wells claimed, "human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." In making this delineation, he overlooked the tragedy that occurs when a school itself becomes the site of catastrophe. On Tuesday, Taliban commanders orchestrated a massacre within a...

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Iraqi Refugees From Mosul Seek a Home Away From Home

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 7:21 AM

Outside the Catholic Church in Marj el Hamam, Jordan, two teenage boys diligently put together a set of shelves. They pass time as they wait for the line outside the shared bathroom to clear. The serpentine queue is filled with female friends and companions getting ready for this evening's Mass....

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As the Islamic State's Threat Grows, Israel and Jordan Seek Security Ties

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 2:21 PM

A recent withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Turaibil, the only legal border crossing between Jordan and Iraq, has created a shaky security situation. It is Jordan, on Israel's east and Iraq's west, that will serve as a crucial buffer from the terrorist movements that threaten to spillover into Israel.


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Jordan: The Jewel in the ISIS Crown

(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 3:53 PM

A boy in Syria, no more than ten-or eleven-years old, faces the camera clutching a passport emblazoned with the words "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan."

Surrounded by jihadist fighters, he begins to threaten the Jordanian monarch and his intelligence services with "tons of tons of explosive car bombs." The scene, punctuated...

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Degrees of Separation: Jordan's Contiguous Border With Israel

(0) Comments | Posted June 13, 2014 | 11:04 AM

Palestinians who utilise the border crossings between Israel and Jordan are subject regularly to systematic discrimination. It is surprising, therefore, that Jordan continues to consent to Israel manning shared borders, particularly those of the Jordan Valley and the West Bank. After all, Jordan is a country where roughly 50 per...

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Jordan's Muslim Brothers: The Last of a Dying Breed

(1) Comments | Posted June 6, 2014 | 5:15 AM

When Tayseer first joined Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood after graduating from university, fitting in proved difficult. "I faced problems related to managerial and age issues," he tells me carefully. "Even my thoughts on Islam and my Islamic values were different. They were not accepted by the Brotherhood". In the past, emphasis...

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Syrian Conflict Transforms Regulations in Jordan

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 5:56 AM

Bordered by Syria to the north and Iraq to the East, lies the city of Mafraq in Jordan, 80 kilometers from the capital of Amman. The buildings and houses that make up the city are dilapidated and dusty, its inhabitants, difficult to spot. Ever so often, one can detect an...

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Inclusion in India

(0) Comments | Posted May 3, 2014 | 7:14 AM

People in India enjoy asking questions. "Why aren't you eating anything?" a waiter accuses me when I order a cup of tea. "Are you on a diet? You're thin, no need to do that." I am used to keeping to myself, but in India no one takes any notice of...

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UN Week: What Was Trending on Social Media?

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2014 | 10:27 AM

I was live on AlHurra TV-MBN on the 25th of September 2013 discussing the role of the Middle East in UN week. Alhurra is a United States-based Arabic-language satellite TV channel funded by the U.S. Congress.

Click here to watch the interview

These were the main points of...

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Jordanians Split Over the War in Syria

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2014 | 9:48 AM

In February 2014, Syrian state media accused Jordan of supporting rebels in southern Syria, aided by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Indeed, the Jordanian government has allegedly played a role in backing the insurgency in Syria. But painting Jordanians as...

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Syria's Spillover Effect on Jordan

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 9:15 AM

In January 2013, the Jordanian armed forces prevented a smuggling attempt across the Syrian border, claiming that they had stopped a "major shipment of arms, ammunition, explosives and drugs." It was no isolated event. In 2013 alone, smuggling activity across Jordan's border with Syria, which is over 230...

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A Clean Sweep

(2) Comments | Posted January 5, 2014 | 6:42 AM

These are tough times in India. The nation faces its lowest GDP growth rate in the last decade. Unemployment rates have jumped to 4.7%, from 3.8% in 2012. Voters are disheartened by failed reforms and record corruption. Now, India's political future depends on how...

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A Border That Breaks: Jordan as the Alternative Homeland

(0) Comments | Posted September 5, 2013 | 5:30 AM

Earlier this week, the United Nations declared Syria's refugee crisis the 'humanitarian calamity' of the century. Every day, roughly 5,000 refugees flee Syria with little more than the clothes on their backs. The number of Syrians who have left their war-ravaged country has risen to more than two million. A...

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The Principle of Being a Principal

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2013 | 4:45 PM

When the 'Arab Spring' reached Jordan in 2011, every local and international news outlet repeated the same message: 'the people want to topple the regime'. But reflecting on my involvement with Jordan over the years, I wonder which 'people' they were referring to. The people off the street didn't want...

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King of the Middle East

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2013 | 4:36 PM

I was recently interviewed by HuffPost Live on King Abdullah's coverage in The Atlantic Article, "Monarch in the Middle", by Jeffrey Goldberg. The segment is titled 'King of the Middle East', where I am in conversation with Ahmed Shihab-Eldin.

In the interview I argue that King Adbullah's...

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Love Is a Losing Game

(4) Comments | Posted February 22, 2013 | 9:04 AM

Love is a losing game. Or, in economic terms, a 'second-best' situation where one or more optimality conditions cannot possibly be satisfied.

Take the initial step we make towards love: seduction. It is perhaps one of the greatest ironies of love that we can never successfully seduce those we...

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A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

(0) Comments | Posted January 31, 2013 | 2:47 PM

Would you rather have a stock certificate or a piece of art decorate your wall? Given the exponential evolution of the art market in today's economic environment, they may very well yield similar returns. Among seasoned investors, fine art is known to possess features that make it a particularly attractive...

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The Difficulty of Being Happy

(12) Comments | Posted January 31, 2013 | 3:43 AM

I have many goals in life, and the primary one is to be 'happy.'

Unfortunately, I suffer from the sporadic panic attack - it's correlated with my workload and lingers even when the task is completed. I battle with mood swings, the nagging feeling of depression, and a general sense...

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