Assistant Professor

2013 PhD in Social Anthropology (University of Sussex, UK)
2008 MSc in Social Research Methods (University of Sussex, UK)
2003 BA in Anthropology (University of Florida, USA)


After completing his undergraduate studies in Anthropology at the University of Florida, David obtained a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Sussex. Subsequently, he received a Leach/RAI Fellowship (2013-2014) to work at Brunel University London, where he worked on the publication of his monograph Youth, Class and Education in Urban India: The year that can break or make you, published with Routledge Press. In 2015, David was awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Sussex to conduct research on Indian youth in the Arab Gulf and transnational educational flows. From 2018 to 2019, he worked at the American University in Dubai as an Assistant Professor of International Studies.


Dubai Academic City, F-L2-035


+971 4 402 3503

Teaching Areas

My research engages with the topics of migration, education, youth, citizenship and belonging, sociality, and identity. I have conducted extended ethnographic research in south India and the UAE, focusing primarily on socially and geographically mobile south Indians hailing from Kerala.

Between 2015 and 2018 I led a British Academy funded project, entitled Educating Migrants, which explores the global educational flows between the Middle East and South Asia and their role in shaping the lives and mobilities of young Indian migrants and their families in the context of Dubai. Building on an intergenerational ethnography of Indian migrants, this project highlights the role of education as a driver of migration processes leading to the consolidation of a transnational Indian middle class, and how migration shapes migrants’ understanding of what it means to be educated.

At present I am engaged in a small project looking at the role of Indian education leadership and the production of International schooling in Dubai. I am also currently developing a news research project on migration brokerage, focusing particularly on the role played by educational consultancies in mediating migration processes.

My doctoral research, builds on ‘in-’ and ‘out-of school’ ethnographies of two schools in urban Kerala. In it, I bring together anthropological literature on globalization and middle-class cultural practice in south Asia; literature on children and youth; and sociological research on schools as sites of social reproduction, and cultural production. I unpack both the capacities of contemporary Indian private schooling to reproduce caste, class and gender inequalities, while simultaneously allowing space for active ways in which youth and their families appropriate and reproduce emergent educational aspirations, strategies and investments.

Research and Professional Activities

Sancho, D. (2022). Education and the making of mobile livelihoods: Dubai Indian families’ trajectories over time and space. Global Networks. 

Sancho, D. (2020). “Facing Life Together”: Everyday Friendship and Well-Being among Dubai’s Indian Diaspora. In E. Buscemi & I. Kaposi (Eds.), Everyday Youth Cultures in the Gulf Peninsula: Changes and Challenges. Routledge.

Sancho, D. (2020). Exposed to Dubai: Education and belonging among young Indian residents in the Gulf. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 18(3), 277–289.

Sancho, D. (2017). Escaping India’s culture of education: Migration desires among aspiring middle-class young men. Ethnography, 18(4), 515–534.

Sancho, D. (2018). Youth, Class and Education in Urban India: The year that can break or make you (1st edition). Routledge.