Welcome! I am a PhD Candidate in Political Science at Yale 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 Indian, Afro-modern, and American political thought, and the relationship between empirical social science and political theory.
I hold a B.A. in Political Science and English from Williams College (2011) and an M.A. (2014) and M. Phil (2016) in Political Science from Yale University. 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.
Directed Association: A Defense of State Action in the Pursuit of Radical Democracy
My dissertation, entitled “Directed Association: A Defense of State Action in the Pursuit of Radical Democracy,” draws insights from John Dewey, B.R. Ambedkar, and Brown v. Board of Education in order to offer an original account of the necessity of state action against oppressive social relations and the compatibility of such action with a radical vision of democracy. The project’s overarching contribution is to democratic theory. Specifically, it aims to refute a variety of accepted perspectives in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory, all of which can be grouped under the sign of democratic minimalism insofar as they strictly dichotomize the institutional arrangements and social relations constituting democracies. Through new readings of three seminal figures, I aim to recast the relationship between state and society and defend the theoretical and practical appeal of what I call ‘directed association’: a model of qualifiedly coercive state action, undertaken by and for oppressed groups in order to create the conditions for democracy understood not simply as a form of government but as ‘associated life.’ The dissertation 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 revised understandings of these two figures.
Please contact me if you are interested in reading any of the working papers below.
The Politics of Peoples in Rabindranath Tagore and W.E.B. Du Bois (submitted)
The Ends of Dalit Representation in B.R. Ambedkar’s Political Thought (dissertation chapter)
Transformative Communication, the State, and the Problem of Oppression in John Dewey’s Democratic Theory (dissertation chapter)
Racial Caste, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Pursuit of Democracy in Brown v. Board of Education (dissertation chapter)
Ethnic Quotas and the Distribution of Public Benefits in India: A Replication and Reanalysis of Dunning and Nilekani (2013) (with Gautam Nair; working paper)
The Incidence, Effectiveness, and Democratic Implications of Vote Buying in Indian Villages (with Gautam Nair; data analysis underway)
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 which relies on equality and the mutual exchange of ideas between students.
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.
Gandhi, King, and the Politics of Nonviolence, Yale College, Fall 2016, Prof. Karuna Mantena. Student evaluations: (Fall 2016_Student Course Evaluations.pdf)
Moral Foundation of Politics, Yale College, Spring 2016, Prof. Ian Shapiro. Student evaluations: (Spring 2016_Student Course Evaluations.pdf)
Gandhi, King, and the Politics of Nonviolence, Yale College, Fall 2015, Prof. Karuna Mantena. Student evaluation: (Fall 2015_Student Course Evaluations.pdf)