Kanchan Chandra

Professor of Politics
B.A. 1993, Dartmouth; Ph.D. 2000, Harvard

Email:  kanchan.chandra [@] gmail.com
Office Address:  NYU Department of Politics, 19 W. 4th Street, New York, NY 10012
Office Room Number:  412

For a full list of my work, see my Vita.

Areas of Research/Interest: Comparative Ethnic Politics, Democratic Theory, Political Parties and Elections, Violence, Comparative Research Methods, Patronage and Clientelism

About Me:

Kanchan Chandra (Ph.D 2000, Harvard), Professor of Politics at NYU, works on questions of ethnicity, democracy, violence, patronage and clientelism, party politics and the politics of South Asia. She is lead author of Democratic Dynasties (Cambridge University Press, 2016) Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics (Oxford University Press, 2012) (introduction) , author of Why Ethnic Parties Succeed: Patronage and Ethnic Headcounts in India (Cambridge University Press, 2004) (introduction) and of articles in several leading journals.

Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Princeton Program on Democracy and Development, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioural Sciences, the Russell Sage Foundation and research grants from the National Science Foundation, and the United States Institute of Peace.

Her previous work explores what the constructed nature of ethnic identity means for theories and data on the causes and consequences of ethnic mobilization. It proposes a new conceptual framework for thinking about ethnic identity and uses this framework to theories about the relationship between ethnicity, politics and economics. Taking the possibility of ethnic identity change into account, she argues, dismantles theoretical logics linking ethnic diversity to negative outcomes and processes such as democratic destabilization, clientelism, riots, and state collapse. Even more importantly it changes the questions we can ask about the relationship between ethnicity, politics and economics.

She is currently working on two large-scale research projects (1) A project which theorizes about the effect of ethnic mobilization on democratic stability and governance from a constructivist perspective, combining field research with cross-national data on ethnic parties and violence around the world. (2) A project on democratic transformations in South Asia. This employs in-depth studies within a single country and comparison across clusters or countries to explain new aspects of politics in South Asian democracies such as the emergence of dynastic politics, changes in the structure of the post-liberalization state, business-state relations, and left-ideological movements.

Both projects combine fine-grained field research and cross-national data with a broad theoretical and comparative perspective. They also experiment with new ways of crediting the collaborative aspect of the relationship between social scientists and their so called “subjects” in field research, and with other forms of collaboration between social scientists that complement and deepen solo-authored work. These experiments explore questions first raised by the American Political Science Association’s working group on collaboration, which she chaired in 2006.


Select Publications:


•    Democratic Dynasties (Cambridge University Press, April, 2016)

•    Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics (Oxford University Press: 2012).  Introduction

•    Why Ethnic Parties Succeed (Cambridge University Press: 2004).  Introduction


•    2016. Kanchan Chandra and Alan Potter. "Do Urban Voters in India Vote Less." Online Appendix. Economic and Political Weekly, Volume 51, Issue No. 39, September 24 2016, 58-68.
•    2015.  "The New Indian State."  Economic and Political Weekly, October 10 2015 Vol L. No. 41
•    2013, “Patronage, Democracy and Ethnic Politics in India” in Diego Abente and Larry Diamond eds, Clientelism, Social Policy and the Quality of Democracy (Johns Hopkins Press 2013)
•    2011, “What is an Ethnic Party.”  Party Politics, March 2011
•    2009, “Designing Measures of Ethnic Identity: The Problems of Overlap and Incompleteness.” Qualitative Methods Newsletter, Spring 2009
•    2009, “A Constructivist Dataset on Ethnicity and Institutions (CDEI).” in Rawi Abdelal, Yoshiko Herrera, Ian Johnston and Rose McDermott eds, Identity as a Variable (Cambridge University Press)
•    2009, “Why Voters in Patronage-Democracies Split Their Tickets: Strategic Voting for Ethnic Parties in Patronage-Democracies.”  Electoral Studies (2009)
•    2008, “Making Causal Claims About Ethnic Politics” in Mark Lichbach and Alan Zuckerman eds, Comparative Politics (Cambridge University Press: 2008)
•    2008, “Ethnic Invention: A New Principle for Institutional Design in Multi-Ethnic Democracies”  James Johnson, Jack Knight, Margaret Levi and James Johnson eds, Designing Democratic Government (Jointly published by the American Political Science Association and the Russell Sage Foundation).
•    2008, “Measuring the Effect of Ethnicity” (with Steven Wilkinson). Comparative Political Studies (April 2008)
•    2007, “Counting Heads” in Herbert Kitschelt and Steven Wilkinson, eds. Patronage and Clientelism (Cambridge University Press)
•    2006. Review of Paul R. Brass, The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India.  Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003, Journal of Asian Studies
•    2006, “What is Ethnic Identity and Does it Matter?”  Annual Review of Political Science. Vol. 9: 397-424
•    2006, “Mechanisms and Outcomes,” Qualitative Methods Newsletter, American Political Science Association, Spring Issue.
•    2005, “Ethnic Parties and Democratic Stability.”  Perspectives on Politics.  Vol 3(2): 235-252.
•    2001, “Ethnic Bargains, Group Instability and Social Choice Theory.”  Politics and Society.  Volume 29 (3): 337-362.
•    2001, “Civic Life or Economic Interdependence.”  Advance Review of Ashutosh Varshney, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life (New Haven: Yale University Press 2002), Commonwealth and Comparative Politics. Vol 39 (1): 110-118.
•    2001, “Cumulative Findings in the Study of Ethnic Politics.”  APSA-CP. Vol. 12 (1): 7-11.
•    2000, “Elite Incorporation in Multi-Ethnic Societies.”  Asian Survey.  Vol XL (5): 836-855.
•    2000, “The Transformation of Ethnic Politics in India: The Decline of Congress and the Rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party in Hoshiarpur.”  Journal of Asian Studies.  Vol 59 (1): 26-61.
•    1999, “The Ethnification of the Party System in Uttar Pradesh and its Consequences,” in Indian Politics and the 1998 Election, Ramashray Roy and Paul Wallace, eds., New Delhi: Sage Publications, pgs 55-104.
•    1997, “Party Strategies in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 1996.” (with Chandrika Parmar), in Economic and Political Weekly, February 1 1997.

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