GEM PhD School

Globalisation, Europe & Multilateralism

Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate

Academic Degrees & Titles

Prof Rai is the Director of the Leverhulme Trust Programme on Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament, as well as the Programme Director for the MA in Globalisation and Development.

Professor Shirin Rai studied at the University of Delhi (India) and Cambridge University (UK) and joined the University of Warwick in 1989. Her main research contribution is in the fields of feminist international political economy, gender and politics and democratisation.

Research Area(s)

  • Gender and Political Economy: This work reflects an interest in the political economy of development from a gendered perspective. The specific areas of concern centre around the gendered regimes of work and survival under globalisation, which include privatisation of natural resources, and the changing nature of work. 
  • Democratisation: In this area the concern is with a gendered understanding of debates on democracy and democratisation. The focus is on participation of women and men in political institutions and organisations at global, national and local levels, particularly in South Asia. Issues of citizenship and human rights form part of this area of research. 
  • Governance in an era of globalisation: Her particular concern has been the ways in which shifting patterns of economic and political governance are changing gender relations and in what ways are gender relations constitutive of the shifts in governance. 

Specific Research Interest(s)

Current projects

Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament

Gender and Representation in the Indian Parliament

Global Governance

Gender Politics of Development 

Depletion and Social Reproduction 


Gendered Ceremony And Ritual In Parliament 

Prof. Rai is Director of 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. This has led Prof. Rai to formulate her research within a framework of 


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. In order to study this Prof. Rai is researching the effect 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. 


Social Reproduction And Depletion 

A second strand of Prof. Rai’s work relates to political economy. Together with colleagues from Keele and Coventry Universities, she has been exploring how the non-recognition of the value of social reproduction – defined as 1) biological reproduction; 2) unpaid production in the home of both goods and services; and 3) the reproduction of culture and ideology - raises questions about the nature, rate and consequences of the depletion that occurs in doing this work, addressing which would demonstrate the costs that are accrued in the process, the levels of subsidy to the economy that are generated and how the non-recognition of these costs and subsidy leads to harm to the individual, the household as well as the community.


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

Suggested Fields of Inquiry

Development studies; Indian politics; politics of gender, imperialism, and development; feminist interventions in development theory; democratisation; gender and political representation; globalisation and gender issues; social movements.

PhD dissertations supervised by Prof. Rai include

  • The Indian Partition
  • Globalisation, local elites and social movements in Bolivia
  • Economic Liberalisation of the Indian Economy
  • Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in the Indian Parliament
  • Water management and institutional politics in India
  • Gender, migration and work

Overview of Publications


The Gender Politics of Development, Zed Books, 2008, pp. 210, ISBN 1842778382  

Global Governance: Feminist Perspectives, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp. 336, ISBN 9780230537057  

Gender and the Political Economy of Development, Polity Press, 2002, pp.264, ISBN 0745614914

Chinese Politics and Society: An Introduction  (co-author Flemming Christiansen), Harvester-Wheatsheaf, 1996, ISBN 013354656X  

Resistance and Reaction: University Politics in Post-Mao China, Harvester-Wheatsheaf, 1991, pp. 229+xvii, ISBN 0745009034

Selected Journal articles

 'Feminists Theorize International Political Economy', Signs, Journal of Women in Culture and Society 36:1 (2010)  

'Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament', The Journal of Legislative Studies 16:3 (2010), 281-297  

'Counting Women's Unpaid Work.'  (Co-authored with C Hoskyns.), New Political Economy 12:3 (Sep 2007), 297-317

 'Gendering Global Governance.', International Feminist Journal of Politics 6:4 (2004), 579-601  

'Knowledge and/as power: a feminist critique of trade related intellectual property rights.', Gender, Technology and Development 7:1 (2003), 91-113  

'Networking Across Borders: the South Asian Research Network on Gender, Law and Governance.', Global Networks 3:1 (Jan 2003), 59

 'Protesting World Trade Rules: Can We Talk About Empowerment?', Signs, Journal of Women in Culture and Society 26:4 (2001), 1251-7  

'Gender, Globalisation and Women's Activism: Critical Engagements.', Law, Social Justice and Global Development 2001 (1)  

'Democratic Institutions, Political Representation and Women's Empowerment: The Quota Debate in India.' , Democratization 6:3 (1999), 84-99


'Developing Explanations for Differences(s): Gender and Village Level Democracy in India and China.', New Political Economy 4:2 (1999), 233-49  

'Feminism, Imperialism and Orientalism: the Challenge of the "Indian Woman".' (Co-authored with J Liddle.), Women's History Review 7:4 (1998), 495-520  

'Gender, Class and Representation: India and the European Union.' (Co-authored with C Hoskyns.), European Journal of Women's Studies 5 (Nov 1998), 345-65


Edited books

Global Governance: Feminist Perspectives , eds. Shirin Rai & Georgina Waylen, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp. 336, ISBN 9780230537057  

Mainstreaming Gender, Democratising the State? , ed. Shirin Rai, Manchester University Press, 2003, pp. 298, ISBN 9780719059780  

Development and the Challenge of Globalization, eds. Peter Newell, Shirin Rai & Andrew Scott, IT Publishers, 2002, pp. 212, ISBN 1853394920

 Rethinking Empowerment: Gender and Development in a Global/Local World  eds. Jane Parpart, Shirin Rai & Kathleen Staudt, Routledge, 2002, pp. 272, ISBN 0415277698  

Global Social Movements, eds. Robin Cohen & Shirin Rai, Althone Press (UK)/Transaction Press (USA), 2000, pp. 231, ISBN 0485006154  

International Perspectives on Gender and Democratisation, ed. Shirin Rai, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000, pp. 220, ISBN 0333750055

 Civil Society: Democratic Perspectives, eds. Robert Fine & Shirin Rai, Frank Cass, 1997, pp. 172, ISBN 0714643130  

Women and the State: International Perspectives, eds. Geraldine Lievesley & Shirin Rai, Taylor & Francis, 1996, pp. 192, ISBN 0748403612

Stirring It: Women's Studies in Transition, eds. Gabriele Griffin, Marianne Hester, Shirin Rai & Sasha Roseneil, Taylor and Francis, 1994, pp. 231+vi., ISBN 0748402136 

 Women in the Face of Change: Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China, eds. Annie Phizaklea, Hilary Pilkington & Shirin Rai, 1992, pp. 240, ISBN 0415075408


Selected chapters in edited books

'Democratisation: Feminist Perspectives', 2002, in Peter Burnell (ed.) Democratisation Through the Looking Glass, Manchester, Manchester University Press.

'The National Commission for Women: The Indian Experience', 2002, in UN Division for the Advancement of Women (ed.) Mainstreaming Gender, Democratising the State?: National Machineries for the Advancement of Women, Manchester, Manchester University Press, pp. 223-242. ISBN 0 7190 5978 X

'Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women: Mainstreaming Gender, Democratising the State?', 2002, in UN Division for the Advancement of Women (ed.) Mainstreaming Gender, Democratising the State?: National Machineries for the Advancement of Women, Manchester, Manchester University Press, pp. 15-39. ISBN 0 7190 5978 X

'The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Rights: A Gender Perspective', (with Sharmishta Barwa) 2002, in Peter Newell, Shirin M. Rai and Andrew Scott (eds.) Development and the Challenge of Globalization, London, IT Publishers, pp 41-56. ISBN 1 85339 492 0

'Development and the Challenge of Globalisation', (with Peter Newell and Andrew Scott) 2002, in Peter Newell, Shirin M. Rai and Andrew Scott (eds.) Development and the Challenge of Globalization, London, IT Publishers, pp 1-26. ISBN 1 85339 492 0

'Gender and Political Representation', 2002, in Vandana Desai and Robert B. Potter (eds.) The Companion to Development Studies, London, Arnold, pp. 356-360. ISBN 0 340 76051 6

'Politics and the State: Overview', 2000, in Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women's Studies, New York, Routledge, pp. 1569-1573. ISBN 0 415 92091 4

'Global Social Movements', (with Robin Cohen) 2000, in Robin Cohen and Shirin Rai (eds.) Global Social Movements, Althone Press (UK)/Transaction Press (USA), pp. 1-17. ISBN 0485006154 

'Democratising the Indian Parliament: the "Reservation for Women"Debate', 2000, in Shirin Rai (ed.) International Perspectives on Gender and Democratisation, Basingstoke, Macmillan, pp. 149-65. ISBN 0333750055

'Globalisation, Fragmentation and the State', 1999, in H. Afshar and S. Barrientos (eds.) Globalisation and Fragmentation, Basingstoke, Macmillan, pp. 18-37. ISBN 0 333 73927 2

Book series

Prof. Rai is the author of Gender and Political Economy of Development (2002, Polity Press). Her latest works are Feminists Theorize the International Political Economy, Special Issue of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (co-ed. With Kate Bedford) Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament, Special Issue of Journal of Legislative Studies; The Gender Politics of Development (2008, Zed Books/Zubaan Publishers) and (co-ed) Global Governance: Feminist Perspectives (2008, Palgrave).

Her articles have appeared in journals including: International Feminist Journal of Politics, Global Networks, New Political Economy, Hypatia and Signs.

She has consulted with the United Nations’ Division for the Advancement of Women and UNDP. She is a member of the Editorial Boards of International Feminist Journal of Politics, Politics and Gender, Global Ethics and Indian Journal of Gender Studies and Political Studies Quarterly. She is the co-editor (with Wyn Grant) of Perspectives on Democratic Practice.