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Shirin M. Rai


Professor of Politics & International Studies

Room E2.10
Tel: +44 (0)24765 23429

Advice and Feedback Hours:

Tuesday 10am - 11am

Thursday 11am - 12noon



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Shirin M. Rai is Professor in the department of Politics and International Studies. She has written extensively on issues of gender, governance and development in journals such as Signs, Hypatia, New Political Economy, International Feminist Journal of Politics and Political Studies. She has consulted with the United Nations’ Division for the Advancement of Women and UNDP. She is a founder member of the South Asia Research Network on Gender, Law and Governance, and she was Director of the Leverhulme Trust programme on Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament (2007-2011). She serves on the Editorial Boards of International Feminist Journal of Politics, Politics and Gender, Global Ethics and Indian Journal of Gender Studies and Political Studies Quarterly and on the International Studies Association Publications Committee.

Her current work has three strands: feminist international political economy, gender and political institutions and politics and performance. She has recently published on depletion through social reproduction (IfJP, 2014) where she analyses the costs of doing social reproductive work, how this might be measured and transformed. She has also published two edited collections on performance and/or politics where she explores how performance in and of institutional and informal politics are co-constitutive (Routledge, 2015; Palgrave 2014).

Her latest books include New Frontiers in Feminist Political Economy (with Georgina Waylen), Democracy in Practice: Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament (ed. Palgrave, 2014) and The Grammar of Politics and Performance (eds. with Janelle Reinelt, Routledge, 2015)

Prof Rai is the co-Lead of the University of Warwick's Global Research Priority Programme on International Development

In 2010 she was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. She was also a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics (2012 -2015),

Honorary Adjunct Professor, Department of International Studies, Monash University (2014-) and the Ford Visiting Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Prof Rai is happy to supervise PhD students in the broad areas of her research.

Research interests


Prof. Rai directed a Leverhulme Trust programme on Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament (2007-2011). Together with colleagues from Universities of Bristol, London and Sheffield, she has been exploring how ceremony and ritual provide an important lens with which to study political institutions. The project compares three legislatures over time and space – India, South Africa and Westminster. The premise of the programme is that in order to understand representative institutions we need to understand not only their institutional form, but also the way a particular form takes shape – through modes of behaviour, negotiating the political and physical space and creating an institution specific culture which socializes members in their participation. Through the performance of ceremony and ritual such institutions create and maintain powerful symbols of democracy and of power. This project has inquired into how the socialisation of marginalised groups through the performativity of ceremony and ritual within parliaments secures the elite status of these groups on the one hand, and perpetuates their peripheral position as political actors on the other. The programme resulted in many publications, including Democracy in Practice. This has led Prof. Rai to develop a framework to study PERFORMANCE AND POLITICS, which explores how performance can be read as politics and how politics is performed in particular ways and in so doing congeals as well as disturbs dominant modes of political interaction. This has led to a co-edited book (with Janelle Reinelt) - The Grammar of Politics and Performance. Prof. Rai is researching the affect of performance in parliaments as well as how performance is staged in space, represented in art and performed within parameters of and through discourses of nationalism and modernity in postcolonial India.


A second strand of Prof. Rai’s work relates to political economy and development. Together with colleagues from Keele and Coventry Universities, she has developed a framework to study the non-recognition of unpaid domestic work. How is it possible to know if the non-recognition of the value of domestic work undermines the possibilities for achieving gender justice? In order to render the phenomenon visible and to conceptualise it, they have addressed the problem of depletion, or more specifically, depletion through social reproduction (DSR), which can lead to harm. They have identified three sites where DSR takes place as individuals, households and communities and have also outlined three ways of reversing DSR, conceptualised as mitigation, replenishment and transformation. For more click here

Teaching and supervision

Prof Rai is the Programme Director of the MA in International Development. She convenes the undergraduate module Gender & Development and the postgraduate module Theories and Issues in International Development. She is currently supervising several PhD dissertations and welcomes applications in her research areas.