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Faculty & Research

Natasha Kumar Warikoo

Visiting Associate Professor of Education

Natasha Kumar Warikoo

Degree:  Ph.D., Harvard University, (2005)
Personal Site:   Link to Site
Vitae/CV:   Natasha Kumar Warikoo.pdf
Office Hours Contact:  Email the Faculty Assistant to set up the appointment
Faculty Assistant:  Kevin Walsh


Natasha Kumar Warikoo is associate professor of education at Harvard University. She is an expert on racial and ethnic inequality in education. Her most recent book, The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities (University of Chicago Press, 2016), illuminates how undergraduates attending Ivy League universities and Oxford University conceptualize race and meritocracy. The book emphasizes the contradictions, moral conundrums, and tensions on campus related to affirmative action and diversity, and how these vary across racial and national lines. The book won multiple awards from the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and American Educational Studies Association. Warikoo's first book, Balancing Acts: Youth Culture in the Global City (University of California Press, 2011), analyzes youth culture among children of immigrants attending diverse, low-performing high schools in New York City and London. Balancing Acts won the Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association's International Migration Section. Both of these projects involve extensive ethnographic research in the United States and Britain. In 2017-2018 Warikoo was a Guggenheim Fellow, studying racial change in suburban America. Her latest book, Rules of the Game: Asian Americans, Whites, and the Quest for Excellence in Suburban America, will be published by University of Chicago Press.

Warikoo's research has also been published in scholarly journals (American Journal of EducationBritish Education Research JournalEducational ResearcherPoeticsRace, Ethnicity and EducationEthnic and Racial Studies (also here); Review of Educational ResearchSociological Forum), edited books, and newspapers (The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesThe Washington Post and more), and she has won grants and awards from American Sociological Association, the British Academy, Guggenheim Foundation, National Science Foundation, Nuffield Foundation, and Russell Sage Foundation. Her recent articles can be accessed for free here.

At Harvard, Warikoo teaches courses on racial inequality and the role of culture in K-12 and higher education. Prior to her academic career she was a teacher in New York City's public schools for four years, and also spent time working at the U.S. Department of Education and as a fellow with the Teachers Network Leadership Institute. Warikoo completed her Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University, and B.Sc and B.A. in mathematics and philosophy at Brown University. 

Click here to see a full list of Natasha Warikoo's courses.

Areas of Expertise

Radcliffe Institute Exploratory Seminar: The Changing Face of Suburban Inequality: How Racial and Ethnic Change Unfold in Suburban America,(2019)

American Sociological Association Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Book Award, Honorable Mention,(2018)

Critics’ Choice Book Award for The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite UniversitiesAmerican Educational Studies Association,(2018)

Society for the Study of Social Problems Racial and Ethnic Minorities Division Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Book Award,(2018)

Guggenheim Fellowship: Asian Americans in Suburban America,(2017)

Russell Sage Foundation: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration Large Grant: Asian Americans in Suburban America,(2016)

Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation,(2014)

Thomas and Znaniecki Best Book Award for Balancing Acts: Youth Culture in the Global City [ASA International Migration Section],(2012)

William E. Milton Fund Grant, Harvard University “Elite Undergraduates on Multiculturalism and Immigration: A Cross-National Study”,(2010)

British Academy Social Science Small Grant: "Discourses on Multiculturalism among University Students in Britain and the United States”,(2008)

American Sociological Association Section on Children and Youth, Best Student Paper Award,(2006)

Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University Dissertation Research Award,(2004)

National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Award,(2004)

National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Fellowship, Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy, Harvard University,(2003)

Sponsored Projects


Asian Americans in Suburban America: Academic Competition, Youth Culture, and Racial Change (2016-2018)
Russell Sage Foundation

How does the settlement of the nation’s most successful immigrant groups shape the nature of racial boundaries, beliefs about success and achievement, and youth cultures? This project studies the impact of an increased Asian American population alongside increased competition at high schools in wealthy suburban communities. The findings will contribute to our understanding of assimilation and racial change. The study employs 200 in-depth interviews with white, Chinese American, and Indian American students and parents in two wealthy suburban communities—one with a large, growing Asian American population—and ethnographic observations and staff interviews at the local high school in both.


Warikoo, N. and U. Allen.* (forthcoming). “A Solution to Multiple Problems: The Origins of Affirmative Action in Higher Education around the World.” Studies in Higher Education.,(forthcoming)

Warikoo, N. (forthcoming). “Weak Multiculturalism and Fears of Cultural Encroachment: Meanings of Multiculturalism among Young Elites in Britain.” Ethnicities.,(forthcoming)

Warikoo, N. (under contract, University of Chicago Press). The Rules of the Game: Asian Americans, Whites, and the Quest for Excellence in Suburban America.,(2020)

"What Meritocracy Means to its Winners: Admissions, Race, and Inequality at Elite Universities in the United States and Britain." (forthcoming). Social Sciences.,(2019)

Warikoo, N. and I. Bloemraad. "Opportunities to Succeed" or "Money and more Rights": Social Location and Young People’s Views on American Identity. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44(5), 736-753.,(2018)

Warikoo, N., Stacey Sinclair, Jessica Fei*, and Drew Jacoby-Senghor. "Examining Racial Bias in Education: A New Approach." Educational Researcher 45(9), 508-514.,(2016)

Warikoo, N. The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.,(2016)

Warikoo, N. and de Novais, J. "Colorblindness and Diversity: Race Frames and Their Consequences for White Undergraduates at Elite US Universities." Ethnic and Racial Studies, 38(6).,(2015)

Warikoo, N. "Diversity in US and British Higher Education in National Context" in Routledge International Handbook of Diversity Studies, ed. by S. Vertovec, New York, Routledge.,(2015)

Warikoo, N. and Fuhr, C. "Legitimating Status: Perceptions of Meritocracy and Inequality among Undergraduates at an Elite British University." British Education Research Journal, 40(4).,(2014)

Warikoo, N. and Deckman, S. "Beyond the Numbers: Institutional Influences on Experiences with Diversity on Elite College Campuses." Sociological Forum, 29(4).,(2014)

Warikoo, N. "Who gets Admitted to College?" Los Angeles Times (July 20, Op-Ed).,(2013)

Warikoo, N. "Culture, Diversity, and Education" in Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education, ed. J. Banks. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.,(2012)

Warikoo, N. "Balancing Acts: Youth Culture in the Global City." University of California Press.,(2011)

Warikoo, N. "Symbolic Boundaries and School Structure in Multiethnic Schools." American Journal of Education.,(2010)

Warikoo, N. "Youth Culture and Peer Status among Children of Immigrants in New York and London: Assessing the Cultural Explanation for Downward Assimilation," in Beyond Stereotype: Minority Children of Immigrants in Urban Schools, ed. R. Saran and R. Diaz. Rotterdam: Sense.,(2010)

Warikoo, N. and P. Carter. "Cultural Explanations for Racial and Ethnic Stratification in Academic Achievement: A Call for a New and Improved Theory". Review of Educational Research.,(2009)

Warikoo, N. "Racial Authenticity among Second Generation Youth in Multiethnic New York and London." Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media, and the Arts 35(6): 388-408.,(2007)

Warikoo, N. "The Continuing Significance of Race and Ethnicity in The Melting Pot," in America’s Americans: The Populations of the United States, ed. P. Davies and I.Morgan. London: ISA Press.,(2007)

Warikoo, N. "Two Schools, Worlds Apart: Lessons from London on How Small Schools Help Foster Racial Integration." Education Week 25(31): 38.,(2006)

Warikoo, N. "In a Teenage Waistland, Fitting In." The Washington Post (July 31, p.B1).,(2005)

Warikoo, N. "Gender and Ethnic Identity among Second Generation Indo-Caribbeans." Ethnic and Racial Studies 28(5): 803-831.,(2005)

Warikoo, N. "Race and the Teacher-Student Relationship: Interpersonal Connections between West Indian Students and their Teachers in a New York City High School." Race, Ethnicity and Education 7(2): 135-147.,(2004)

Warikoo, N. “Cosmopolitan Ethnicity: Second Generation Indo-Caribbean Identities,” in Becoming New Yorkers: Ethnographies of the New Second Generation, ed. P. Kasinitz, J. Mollenkopf, and M. Waters. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.,(2004)

Warikoo, N. Outcomes of Reduced Class Size in High School Math Classrooms," in Taking Action with Teacher Research, ed. E. Meyers and F. Rust. New York: Heinemann.,(2003)


Eastern Sociological Society,(2011-present)

American Educational Research Association

American Sociological Association

Council for European Studies

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