My research encompasses social media, comparative race and ethnic politics, public opinion, and governance outcomes. The research agenda is centered on South Asia. While I am methodologically pluralistic, I rely on experimental methods – particularly field and survey experiments, complemented with quantitative techniques. Below are some of the projects I’m working on right now. Feel free to contact me for more details, including abstracts and texts of the projects.

Projects-in-progress:

1. Misinformation through Social Networks, Political Behavior, and Good Governance 

[Awarded a $50,000 grant from Facebook Inc.]

Research questions:

1. Does misinformation spread via social networks impact voting preferences in
developing countries, and why?
2. Does misinformation distributed through social networks change longstanding
political party affiliation, and why?
3. Does misinformation influence attitudes toward ethnic out-groups?
4. Does ethnically targeted misinformation influence demand for public goods?
5. Related to the above, does economic clientelist misinformation appealing to
targeted ethnic identities have greater (or worse) influence in changing public
policy attitudes than misinformation involving public goods, and why?

Field and survey experiments in India and Afghanistan will be carried out over phases in 2019.

2. Political Participation of Women and Public Goods Provisioning in Ethnically Divided Societies

[Funding: US $ 25,000. Small Grants Award. The International Growth Centre.]

The project aims to deliver insights on the following questions that would likely be beneficial for political parties, policy-makers, and academics.

1. In an ethnically divided society, what matters to voters more – security or economic development?
2. Are women at a disadvantage as political candidates in locales with caste violence?
3. What kind of incentives should parties, and female candidates, offer to voters in such ethnically divided areas to win elections?
4. Does reservation for women in legislative seats work? In contrast, should political parties nominate women in
seats with caste-based reservations?
5. What are the signals female candidates should offer to increase public trust in their candidacy vis-a-vis rival male
candidates in areas where women have been historically rarely elected?

Survey experiments and qualitative focus-group interviews were carried out in December 2020.

3. Social Media, Intergroup Relations, and Public Opinion in Ethnically Segregated and Diverse Communities in India

[Funder: University of Virginia. US $ 20,000, July 2021 and US $ 65,000, December 2021]

This pilot project investigates the ways offline and online segregation affects belief in misinformation and, in turn, people’s attitudes and behavior in marginalized communities. In particular, we examine how online information about intergroup relations affects intergroup trust, support for public goods provision, and vote choice. The broader version of the project aims to be one of the largest studies of its kind examining how misinformation is influencing identity politics, ethnic relations and investigating potential solutions to the challenge of misinformation in the world’s two largest democracies – the US and India.

Papers under review: 

  • Ethnic Gender Norms: How Parties Shape Voter Attitudes to Women Candidates in India (American Political Science Review) Co-authors: Charles Hankla, Anjali Thomas (Georgia Tech)
  • Electing Women in Ethnically Divided Societies: Candidates, Campaigns, and Intersectionality in Bihar, India (Journal of Politics)
    Co-authors: Charles Hankla, Anjali Thomas (Georgia Tech)
  • Do Ethnic Electoral Quotas Reduce Ethnic Violence? (Electoral Studies)
  • Do Local Gender Quotas “Spillover” to Higher Tiers? Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Bihar, India (Comparative Politics)

Working papers:

  • Identity Matters: WhatsApp, Misinformation and Voter Attitudes in India
  • WhatsApp, Misinformation and Demand for Public Goods Provision in Ethnically Divided Societies
  • How Do Ethnic Parties Win: Violence, Clientelism & Public Goods Provision

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