The Political Economy of National and International Development

My first book, Development after Statism,  and related research examine the state-institutional foundations of industrial development in developing countries, especially South Asia. My earlier work in this area, including with Caroline Arnold, builds on insights from the developmental state tradition and the comparative capitalism traditions to explore the institutional foundations and social prerequisites of industrial production and growth, before and after neoliberal reforms. I take a firm-level institutional perspective to these questions, exploring the microfoundations of growth trajectories in a variety of different regions and sectors.  More recent and ongoing work focuses on the international political economy context for development, both under statism and in the era of globalization, analyzing the ways that international institutions may influence the trajectories of national development.  

Colonial State Formation, Violence and Political Order

This research program, which has culminated in my second book, Patchwork States, analyzes the ways that state formation under colonial rule, as well as subsequent critical junctures like independence and partition, has shaped differential territorial institutions in India and Pakistan, with significant consequences for political order. Before the book, this research explored the historic roots of the timing and dynamics of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan insurgency in the disruption of hybrid governance arrangements, examined the roots of this differentiation in the concept of indirect rule (with Paul Staniland), analyzed state-society relations and the dispersion of sovereignty-neutral and sovereignty-contesting violence in India and, with Pradeep Chhibber, the governance roots of variation in the effective number of parties, despite Duverger's Law, in India. This research also critically examines approaches to the study of colonial legacies, as well as concepts of imperialism and political order. 

Populist Politics

Research with Pradeep Chhibber explores the roots of populist resurgence in South Asia through a structured comparison between left-populist politics in India and Pakistan in the 1970s and right-populist politics in India and Pakistan in the 2010s. We argue that populist electoral resurgence occurs when a political leader evokes the abrogation of a moral contract -- the distance between what democratic politics promises and what it delivers -- in ways that gather together a heterogenous coalition of support in order to win power. Populists in power rarely succeed in reforming the moral contract, with politics that collapse either in failure or in authoritarian consolidation, but they succeed in transforming the system of party competition. This approach to the politics of contemporary and historical populism, rooted in the moral economy and party systems, seeks to to provide a new perspective in the analysis of populism, particularly in the developing world,  through systematic comparative-historical analysis, while shedding light on key themes in the politics of South Asia. 

Future Research

Over the next few years, I plan on continuing my research in the international dimensions of the political economy of national development and populist challenges to liberal politics, and to develop a research agenda on the darker sides of identity. 


Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about my past and ongoing research, or to request offprints of articles if accessibility is an issue. 

[Images: Daniel Schwartz, Ahmedabad Mills, 1990; MF Hussain, "British Raj Procession"; Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Shimla, July 1972, getty; Tyeb Mehta, "Sequence," 1981, oil on canvas. (Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum) ]