Dr Pavithra Suryanarayan

Dr Pavithra Suryanarayan

Assistant Professor

Department of Government

Room No
CBG 4.31
Connect with me

Hindi, Tamil
Key Expertise
Ethnic Politics, State Capacity, Party Politics, Indian Politics

About me

I study how ethnic inequality shapes institutional development, voting and redistributive preferences, and party system ethnification in ranked ethnic systems like India and the United States. I pursue these research questions using methods in historical political economy that emphasize causal identification, spatial and survey analysis, and extensive archival research. Beyond my work on ranked ethnic systems, I have developed two further substantive areas of research: the relationship between state capacity and class voting in a cross-national and party organization and party system institutionalization in the Indian states. My papers have been published in the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics, Party Politics, Perspectives on Politics and World Politics.

My research has been featured in the New York Times, Le Monde, The Economist, and The Hindu amongst others, and has won discipline-wide awards including the Heinz I Eulau award for the best paper published in the APSR in 2021, the Mancur Olson award for the best dissertation in political economy, the Franklin L. Burdett/Pi Sigma Alpha award for the best paper presented at the American Political Science Association (APSA), the Editorial Best Paper award by Comparative Political Studies and the GESIS-Klingemann award for best paper on electoral politics.

I am an editor and contributor to Broadstreet, an inter-disciplinary academic blog on historical political economy. I also serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Historical Political Economy and was formerly an associate editor of the Comparative Politics Newsletter for the CP section of APSA.

Research interests

  • Social status and redistributive preferences
  • Identity politics and state capacity
  • Caste, inequality and voting in India
  • Party organization and party system stability
  • State capacity and voting behaviour across the world

Teaching responsibilities

  • GV4L6: Political Economy of Inequality
  • GV338: Politics and Political Economy of India

Selected publications

  • Jensenius, Francesca R., and Pavithra Suryanarayan. "Party system institutionalization and economic voting: Evidence from India." The Journal of Politics 84, no. 2 (2022): 814- 830. 2)
  • Auerbach, Adam Michael, et al. "Rethinking the study of electoral politics in the developing world: Reflections on the Indian case." Perspectives on Politics 20, no. 1 (2022): 250-264. 3)
  • Suryanarayan, Pavithra, and Steven White. "Slavery, reconstruction, and bureaucratic capacity in the American south." American Political Science Review 115, no. 2 (2021): 568-584. 4)
  • Kasara, Kimuli, and Pavithra Suryanarayan. "Bureaucratic capacity and class voting: Evidence from across the world and the United States." The Journal of Politics 82, no. 3 (2020): 1097-1112. 5)
  • Suryanarayan, Pavithra. "When do the poor vote for the right wing and why: Status hierarchy and vote choice in the Indian states." Comparative Political Studies 52, no. 2 (2019): 209-245