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I am interested in how vulnerable populations assert their rights through social movements. My research has examined this issue across a range of populations, including informal workers and migrant workers. Although my research focus has been on India, I am in involved in several networks to examine these issues on a global scale. My co-edited volume, Whatever Happened to Class? Reflections from South Asia (Routledge Press, 2008), explores how class-based analysis can help us better understand the contemporary challenges faced by urban workers, agricultural workers, and middle classes in India and Pakistan.
My recent book, Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India (Cambridge University Press, 2013), examines how India’s informal workers (i.e. those who are unprotected and unregulated by labor laws) are launching alternative labor movements that use the power of their votes to attain social welfare. Expanding on my findings from this project, I have examined how gender interacts with informal workers’ movements to create new forms of state-protection and how India’s informal worker organizations have extended their movements to the transnational level by partnering with international agencies, unions in other countries, and universities. I am currently working on a comparative project that examines informal workers’ alternative movements in 7 countries.
Currently, I am working on a new project that examines how Indian emigrants affect India’s development through migrant organizations. I am examining these processes among low-skilled migrants to the Gulf and high-skilled migrants to the US. For the examination of migrants to the US, I am working with colleagues examining similar issues in 8 other countries. Although migrants (and especially their financial remittances) have recently been heralded as a primary actor in international development, we know little about social remittances (such as ideas, knowledge, and technology transfers) from the diaspora or new skills and forms of political power imported by return migrants.
Prior to joining Johns Hopkins University, I worked on international development and gender issues at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in China, the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India, and Women’s World Banking (WWB) in New York. My undergraduate work was done at Cornell University (BA), where I studied economics and government. I completed a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) at Harvard University, where I concentrated in political and economic development, and I completed my Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography at Princeton University.
230.150 Issues in International Development
230.318 State and Society in Modern India
230.324 Gender & International Development
230.362 Migration and Development
230.625 Seminar on International Development
Agarwala, Rina. 2013. Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Winner of the 2014 Book Award from ASA’s Sociology of Development Section • Honorable Mention from ASA Labor and Labor Movement’s 2014 Distinguished Scholarly Work Award.
Agarwala, Rina. September 2012. "The State and Labor in Transnational Activism: The Case of India." Journal of Industrial Relations. , Vol. 54, Issue 4.
Agarwala, Rina and Emmanuel Tietlebaum. 2010. “Trends in Funding for Dissertation Field Research: Why So Little Support for Political Science and Sociology?” Political Science and Politics. April, pp. 283-293.
Agarwala, Rina. 2009. “An Economic Sociology of Informal Work: The Case of India." Research in the Sociology of Work. Vol 18, pp. 315-342.
Herring, Ronald and Rina Agarwala (eds.) 2008. Whatever Happened to Class? Reflections from South Asia. London: Routledge Press.
Agarwala, Rina. 2008. “Reshaping the Social Contract: Emerging Relations between the State and Informal Labor in India.” Theory and Society. Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 375-408.
Agarwala, Rina. 2007. “Resistance and Compliance in the Age of Globalization: Indian Women and Labor Organizations," in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 610, March.
Agarwala, Rina. 2006. “From Work to Welfare: A New Class Movement in India.” Critical Asian Studies. Vol. 38, No. 4, December, pp. 419-445.
Herring, Ronald and Rina Agarwala. 2006. “Introduction: Restoring Agency to Class: Puzzles from the Subcontinent.” Critical Asian Studies. Vol. 38, No. 4, December, pp. 323-357.
Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India
April 2013, Cambridge University Press
Whatever Happened to Class? Reflections from South Asia
October 2008, Lexington Books