Shirin M. Rai
Shirin M. Rai is Professor in the department of Politics and International Studies. Her research interests are in gendered performance and politics, gender and political institutions and gender and the political economy of development. She has directed a Leverhulme Trust funded programme on Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament (2007-2011). She has written widely on issues of gender inequality. Her latest books include The Gender Politics of Development (2008, Zed Books/Zubaan Publishers) and editor of Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament (2010).
In 2010 she was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.
She is also a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics.
GENDERED CEREMONY AND RITUAL IN PARLIAMENT
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.
DEPLETION AND SOCIAL REPRODUCTION
A second strand of Prof. Rai’s work relates to political economy. Together with colleagues from Keele and Coventry Universities, she has been exploring the non-recognition of the value of social reproduction. 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 Globalisation & 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.