Narendra Subramanian is Professor of Political Science at McGill University.   He studies the politics of nationalism, ethnicity, religion, gender and race in a comparative perspective, focusing primarily on India. Subramanian’s work explores the role of identity politics in political mobilization, electoral competition, public culture, and public policy; the functioning of democracies amidst social and economic inequalities with long histories; and different ways in which policy-makers and citizens attempt to resolve the tensions between official secularism and the significant presence of religion in public life.

Subramanian’s first book (Ethnicity and Populist Mobilization: Political Parties, Citizens and Democracy in South India, Oxford University Press, 1999) examined why the mobilization of intermediate and lower status groups through discourses of language and caste reinforced democracy and tolerance in Tamil Nadu, southern India. (http://www.amazon.com/Ethnicity-Mobility-Political-Citizens-Democracy/dp/0195652231). Stanford University Press published his second book – Nation and Family: Personal Law, Cultural Pluralism, and Gendered Citizenship in India, 2014. (https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=21588). It traces the course of the personal laws that govern family life among India’s major religious groups, in comparison with experiences in various other countries that inherited distinct personal laws. Routledge, Taylor and Francis published a revised Indian edition, Nation and Family: Personal Law, Cultural Pluralism, and Gendered Citizenship in India, 2022. (https://www.amazon.in/Nation-Family-Personal-Pluralism-Citizenship/dp/0367538857/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2N0LY1URY0A9F&keywords=narendra+subramanian&qid=1658071628&sprefix=narendra+subramanian%2Caps%2C196&sr=8-2)

He is currently engaged in a comparison of the effects of political rights on the socio-economic status of two historically bonded groups, India’s lower castes and African Americans. Titled From Bondage to Citizenship: The Enfranchisement and Advancement of Dalits and African Americans, it focuses on two regions of historically high group inequality – the Mississippi delta in the southern United States and the Kaveri delta in southern India. Moreover, he has begun a comparative study of populism and deeply disadvantaged ethno-racial groups in India and the United States, and plans a comparative study of nationalism and secularism in India and Indonesia.

Subramanian received his B.A. in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Research Interests:

  • Comparative Politics
  • Identity Politics (Nationalism, Ethnicity, Religion, Gender, Race)
  • State-Formation, Citizenship, and Law
  • Political Parties and Social Movements
  • Institutions, Public Culture and Democracy
  • Political Rights, Socio-Economic Inequality, Citizenship
  • South Asian Politics and Society