Poulami Roychowdhury

Associate ProfessorPoulami Roychowdhury

Stephen Leacock Building, Room 839
855 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec, H3A 2T7

Tel.: 514-389-6837
Fax: 514-398-7476
E-mail: poulami.roychowdhury [at] mcgill.ca


Research Areas

Political Sociology; Human Rights; Gender; Political Economy of Development; Qualitative Methods



(PhD, New York University, 2014)

Dr. Roychowdhury's research examines the relationship between politics, law, and gender inequality. Much of her work is based in the United States and India, where she spent significant parts of her childhood.

Her award-winning book, Capable Women, Incapable States (Oxford University Press 2021) asks how collective actions influences women's access to rights within the Indian criminal justice system. Dr. Roychowdhury has also conducted research on the relationship between masculinity and labor organizing, and media coverage of sexual violence.

She is currently engaged in three new projects. The first examines the politics of sexual harassment in India. The second analyzes the transnational politics of reproductive justice, asking how women respond to legal challenges against abortion. The third is an inter-disciplinary, collaborative initiative that traces the inequality of Covid 19 in India.

Dr. Roychowdhury's research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds de Recherche du Québec, and the American Institute of India Studies. She is an Associate Editor at Social Politics and serves on the editorial boards of Gender & Society and Sociological Theory.

She has published in published in American Journal of Sociology, Feminist Studies, Gender & Society, Law & Social Inquiry, Signs, and Social Problems. Her writing has won awards from the American Sociological Association, the Eastern Sociological Society, Law & Society Association, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.




2021. Capable Women, Incapable States: Negotiating Violence and Rights in India. New York: Oxford University Press

Forthcoming 2023. Pandemic Inequality: Citizens, States, and Covid 19 in India, with Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner (UVA). Under contract with Oxford University Press.

Journal Articles

2021. "Incorporation: Governing Gendered Violence in a State of Disempowerment." American Journal of Sociology, 126 (4): 852-888. 

2019. "Illicit Justice: Aspirational-Strategic Subjects and the Political Economy of Domestic Violence Law in India." Law & Social Inquiry, 44 (2): 444-467.

2016 “Desire, Rights, Entitlements: Organizational Strategies in the War on Violence.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 41 (4): 793-820.

2016 “Over the Law: Rape and the Seduction of Popular Politics.” Gender & Society, 30 (1): 80-94. 

2015 “Victims to Saviors: Governmentality and the Regendering of Citizenship in India.” Gender & Society, 29 (6): 792-816.

2014 “Brothers and Others: Organizing Masculinity, Disorganizing Workers.” Social Problems, Volume 61, Number 1, pages 22-41.

2013 “The Delhi Gang Rape: The Making of International Causes.” Feminist Studies, Volume 39, Number 1, pages 282-292.

Book Chapters & Special Issues

2022. “Between Women and the State: Rights Brokers and Capital Accumulation in West Bengal.” Toward a Sociology of South Asia: Rethinking Politics, Labor, and Culture. Eds. Smitha Radhakrishnan and Gowri Vijayakumar. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Forthcoming 2023. “Researcher Positionality and Experiences of Fieldwork on Gender-Based Violence: Lessons from India,” with Aditi Malik (Holy Cross). Political Science & Politics, xx(x).

Other Publications

2022. “Why Police Sexual Harassment? Women’s Rights and the Politics of Hindu Nationalism.” India in Transition. Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania.

2022. “Governing Gendered Violence” [blog post]. Law in Action. American Sociological Association, Sociology of Law Section.

2022. “Capable Women, Incapable States” [podcast]. The Great Gender Divide.

2021. “Capable Women, Incapable States” [podcast]. New Books Network.

2021. “Absence in the Time of Covid 19” [blog post]. Ethnographic Marginalia.

2014 “Gender-based violence: an index of ‘tradition’ or social change?” Gender & Society.

2013 “Focus on rape in India ignores global problem.” Salon.com

2012 Managing Editor (with NYU Colleagues). The Sociology Project: An Introduction to the Sociological Imagination. New York: Pearson.


Book Awards

American Sociological Association, Human Rights Section, Gordon Hirabayashi Book Award 2022

American Sociological Association, Distinguished Book Award, Honorable Mention 2022

Eastern Sociological Society, Mirra Komarovsky Award 2022

Law and Society Association, Herbert Jacob Book Prize, Honorable Mention 2022

Article Awards

American Sociological Association, Human Rights Section, Best Article Award 2022

American Sociological Association, Political Sociology Section, Best Article Award 2022

American Sociological Association, Sociology of Law Section, Best Article Award 2022

American Sociological Association, Crime Law and Deviance Section, James F. Short Jr. Distinguished Article Award, Honorable Mention 2022

American Sociological Association, Development Section, Best Article Award, Honorable Mention 2022

Society for the Study of Social Problems, Arlene Kaplan Daniels Paper Award, Honorable Mention 2022


Courses Taught

Graduate Seminars

SOCI 550 Developing Societies

SOCI 489 Gender, Crime, Deviance

Undergraduate Courses

SOCI 255 Gender and the State

SOCI 370 Gender and Development


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