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Tara Patricia Cookson BA, MA

Tara Patricia Cookson BA, MA

PhD Candidate

Tara's research looks at the gendered impacts of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in Peru. Her work incorporates feminist, critical International Political Economy and post-colonial theory



  • PhD Candidate: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, 2011 - current
  • MA: Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto, 2010
  • BA: Major in International Relations, Minor in Spanish, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, University of British Columbia, Major, 2009


  • Editorial Contributor, Sense and Sustainability (2011- current)
  • Teaching Assistant, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto (2009 – 2010)
  • Project Developer, Kelowna Women's Resource Centre, Canada (2009)
  • Project Developer, ACORN Latin America, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2008 – 2009)
  • Research Assistant under Dr Adam Jones, Political Science, University of British Columbia (2008)

Awards and scholarships

  • Bill Gates Sr Prize, 2014
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarship, 2011 – 2014
  • Tim and Wendy Whitmore Fund, 2012
  • Wolfson College Fieldwork Expenses Fund, 2012
  • Wolfson College Conference Fund, 2012
  • University of Toronto Fellowship, 2009 – 2010
  • Hugh Brockman Education Abroad Scholarship for study at the Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, Mexico, 2006 - 2007


My doctoral research project has developed largely out of an interest in social reproduction, work that I have done in community organizations, and the research that I undertook for my master's thesis, which looked at progressive changes to recognize the value of women's unpaid household labour in the 1998 Venezuelan Constitution. My current work continues upon my MA thesis' exploration of the ways in which women's unpaid caring labour is taken up at the level of policy, however now focusing on the ways in which it plays out in the day-to-day lives of women.

I am interested specifically in the conditional cash transfer (CCT) as a social policy tool that seeks to alleviate poverty through 'human investment.' Over the past decades and a half, the majority of Latin American countries have adopted some variation of the CCT. While applauded by many international financial and development organizations, policy experts and academics, there is a noticeable lack of research that asks questions about the women whose unpaid caring labour forms the backbone of the programs. Thinking about shifts in neoliberal governance, care work and gender, my research intends to contribute to filling this crucial gap.


Conferences and publications

  • Cookson, T.P. (2014). Social Inclusion, Citizenship and Gender in Peru's CCT Program Juntos. The Transformation of Latin American Social Policy: Dynamics, Institutions and Outcomes. University of Bath, United Kingdom. November 7th, 2014
  • Cookson, T.P. (2014). Gendered Relations of Ruling: An institutional ethnography of Peru's CCT programme. IPSA 23rd World Congress of Political Science, Montreal, Canada. July 19-24, 2014
  • Cookson, T.P. (2014). Citizenship, Inclusion and Gender: Grounded impacts of Peru's Juntos program. XXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, Chicago, IL, USA. May 21-24, 2014
  • Cookson, T.P. (2014). Women, Discipline and Responsibility in Peru's Juntos Programme. Society for Latin American Studies 50th Anniversary Conference, London, UK. April 3-4, 2014
  • Cookson, T.P. (2012) Women's Unpaid Caring Labour in Post-neoliberal Latin America: The Radical Promise of Article 88. Globalization and the Changes in Cultures of Care and Survival: Local and Global Dimensions. Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. Feb 21-22, 2012.
  • Cookson, T.P. (2009) Behind Closed Doors: How Venezuelan law is challenging the notion of home as haven. Race, Space and Citizenship Conference, OISE, University of Toronto, Nov 28, 2009

External activities

  • Director, Gates Cambridge Professional Development Programming, University of Cambridge (current)
  • Female Welfare Officer, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge (current)
  • Co-Chair, Wolfson Research Event 2014, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge (current)
  • Media and Communications Committee, Global Scholars Symposium 2014, Oxford, UK (current)
  • Board Member, Kelowna Women's Resource Centre, Canada, (2007 – 2009)
  • Events Committee member, Kelowna Women's Resource Centre, Canada (2007 – 2009)
  • English as a Second Language community project coordinator, Club ACORN, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2008 – 2009)