Hari Ramesh

College Fellow

Harvard University



Welcome! I am a College Fellow in Social Studies at Harvard University. My research interests are in political theory and the history of political thought, with specializations in democratic theory, histories and theories of social oppression, the intersections of South Asian, Afro-modern, and American political thought, and the relationship between empirical social science and political theory.

I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University in 2019 and hold a B.A. in Political Science and English from Williams College. Prior to entering graduate school I worked as a Research Associate at the Centre for Microfinance in India and the MIT Department of Political Science.

Book Project

Directed Association: A Defense of State Action in the Pursuit of Radical Democracy

My book project, based on my dissertation research, draws insights from John Dewey, B.R. Ambedkar, and Brown v. Board of Education in order to offer an original account of the compatibility of coercive state action with a radical vision of democracy. Through new readings of three seminal figures, I articulate and defend what I call directed association: the idea that socially-oppressed groups can utilize the instruments of the state in order to create the conditions for democracy understood not just as a form of government but as ‘associated life.’

The project also sheds light on the transnational circulation of political ideas in the twentieth century, particularly between India and the United States, by uncovering heretofore overlooked historical linkages between Dewey, Ambedkar, and Brown. In particular, my analyses of Dewey’s influence on Ambedkar and of sociological perspectives analogizing race and caste on Brown lead to significantly revised understandings of these figures.


Other Research

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about any of the articles, working papers, or works in progress listed below.

The Politics of Peoples in Rabindranath Tagore and W.E.B. Du Bois  (forthcoming in History of the Present)

John Dewey, B.R. Ambedkar, and the Pursuit of Radical Democracy (under review)

India, Racial Caste, and Abolition in Charles Sumner’s Political Thought

G.S. Ghurye and the Making of Race in Modern India

On the Incidence and Effectiveness of Vote Buying in India (with Gautam Nair)

Ethnic Quotas and the Distribution of Public Benefits in India: A Replication and Reanalysis of Dunning and Nilekani (2013) (with Gautam Nair)


Three main ideas guide my approach to the college classroom. First, I emphasize that political theory, as an “unapologetically mongrel sub-discipline” (Dryzek, Honig, and Phillips, The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, 5), offers an array of conceptual tools that each student can use to address the political questions that are most important to them. Second, I insist that students in my class improve upon specific skills – namely: critical reading, verbal expression, persuasive writing, and the ability to analyze information from an interdisciplinary range of sources. Third, I cultivate a collaborative setting that relies on equality and the mutual exchange of ideas between students.

At Harvard I will serve as a tutorial leader for Social Studies 10 and will teach a seminar on Caste, Race, and Democracy in spring semester 2020.

At Yale I have served as a Teaching Fellow for undergraduate courses on Gandhi, King, and Nonviolence and the Moral Foundations of Politics. In summer 2018 I served as a Lead Instructor in the Yale Young Global Scholars program and taught standalone seminars on, among other topics: civil disobedience, B.R. Ambedkar’s political thought, workplace authoritarianism and workplace democracy, and development economics. I have also been involved with Yale’s Center for Teaching and Learning and received the Center’s Certificate of College Teaching Preparation in spring 2018. Below, you can find links to student evaluations for the undergraduate courses I have taught.

Moral Foundations of Politics, Yale College, Spring 2019, Prof. Ian Shapiro

Introduction to Political Philosophy, Yale College, Fall 2018, Prof. Helene Landemore

Gandhi, King, and the Politics of Nonviolence, Yale College, Fall 2016, Prof. Karuna Mantena

Moral Foundation of Politics, Yale College, Spring 2016, Prof. Ian Shapiro

Gandhi, King, and the Politics of Nonviolence, Yale College, Fall 2015, Prof. Karuna Mantena



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