Prerna Singh’s book...presents a radically new and original argument....It provides powerful and novel ideas about how to think about policy and promises to have the same sort of impact on political science that Robert Putnam’s book, Making Democracy Work, has had. [read the full citation]

Woodrow Wilson Award
Best Book on Government, Politics, or International Affairs in 2015
American Political Science Association

Singh’s book struck us as an example of wonderful comparative-historical analysis that directly challenges our core ideas about where variations in national welfare state-efforts come from. She starts with a compelling empirical puzzle and develops a plausible theory, tested both through deep case-based analysis and an appropriately modestly interpreted quantitative analysis. [read the full citation]

Barrington Moore Prize
Best Book Published in Comparative Historical Sociology in 2015
American Sociological Association
World Politics
Vol. 67, No. 3 , July 2015

The committee for the Luebbert Article Award had our work cut out for us because we had a very large number of nominations.   There were 36 submissions in all.  After much discussion and deliberation—as we assessed the articles according to a range of criteria including originality, innovativeness, importance for the field, quality of argument, sophistication of theory and quality empirics—we made our choice.

Luebbert Award
Best Article published in Comparative Politics in the last two years
American Political Science Association


I am presently the Mahatma Gandhi Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Brown University, in the Department of Political Science and at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, and an affiliate of the Center for Contemporary South Asia. I am the co-director of the Brown-Harvard-MIT Joint Seminar on South Asian Politics. I am also an Associate Fellow of the Successful Societies Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

I was previously assistant professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University. I have also been a scholar at the Harvard Academy. I completed a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania. I have also been affiliated with the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. I completed my Ph.D. at the Department of Politics in Princeton University, the tripos in Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge University, U.K. and a Bachelors in Economics at Delhi University in St. Stephen’s College.

My book ‘How Solidarity Works for Welfare: Subnationalism and Social Development in India’ published by Cambridge University Press in their series, Studies in Comparative Politics won the Woodrow Wilson Prize awarded by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in politics and international relations in 2015 as well as the Barrington Moore prize awarded by the American Sociological Association for the best book published in comparative historical sociology in 2015. You can order the book  via Cambridge University Press or Amazon and see the Table of Contents here and an excerpt here and here.

I have co-edited a double special issue of the journal Comparative Political Studies entitled ‘Ethnic Diversity and Public Goods Provision’. You can view the table of contents here. I am co-editor of the 'Handbook of Indian Politics'. You can order the book here via Amazon and see some excerpts including the Table of Contents here.

My research has been published in a number of journals including Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Studies in Comparative International Development, World Development and World Politics. My article in World Politics, ‘Subnationalism and Social Development: A Comparative Analysis of Indian States’ won the Gregory Luebbert prize awarded by the American Political Science Association for the best article published in Comparative Politics in 2014 and 2015, the Mary Parker Follett prize awarded by the American Political Science Association for the best article published in Politics and History in 2015, and the best article prize awarded by the American Sociological Association for the best article in the Sociology of Development in 2015.


The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Brown University
111 Thayer Street
Providence, RI 02912
E-mail: prerna_singh@brown.edu

Download my CV

What are the causes for variations in social welfare policies and development outcomes? What are the causes and consequences of ethnic politics? My research has pivoted around these twin questions about the politics of welfare and development, on the one hand, and ethnic politics, on the other, as also the relationship between the two.

Why despite equivalent socio-demographic, political and economic conditions, have the residents of some places in the world experienced higher levels of well-being, including better education and health, and protection from deadly diseases, than others? I have adopted a self-consciously historically-grounded approach to examine this question across subnational and national units in South, and also increasingly East Asia. In what ways do state institutions influence ethnic politics? Can counting ethnic categories on the census foster ethnic conflict? Can nationalism foster inter-ethnic cooperation? Does ethnic diversity necessarily undermine the provision of public goods? I have used a combination of statistical analyses, survey experiments and case studies, to analyze these questions in diverse empirical settings.

My research as a whole is united by the use of multiple methods and a  deliberately transgressive engagement with social science scholarship across disciplinary boundaries to advance novel theoretical frameworks through which to understand social welfare, identity politics, and their interconnections.

I greatly enjoy teaching and see it as much of an educational experience for me as for my students. Below are some of the classes that I teach.

  • Ethnicity and Nationalism
  • Proseminar in Comparative Politics
  • State-Society Relations in China and India
  • The State and the People
  • The Politics of India
  • The Politics of Identity
  • The Politics of Health and Disease