Ongoing Research

Under Review

My History or Our History: Historical Revisionism and Entitlement to Lead (with Nicholas Haas, R&R at the American Political Science Review)

Winner of the APSA Experimental Research Section’s Best Paper Award 2022.

Ongoing, spirited debates from around the globe over statues, street names, symbols, and textbooks call for a greater understanding of the political effects of different historical representations. In this paper, we theorize that inclusive (exclusive) historical representations can increase (decrease) marginalized group members’ perceived centrality to the nation, entitlement to speak on its behalf, and likelihood of becoming leaders. In an online experiment in India (N=1,592), we randomly assign participants exercises sourced from official state textbooks that contain either an exclusive, inclusive, or a neutral rep- resentation of history. We subsequently assess the supply of and demand for Muslim leadership using both an original, incentivized game and additional survey and behavioral measures. Consistent with our theory, we find that inclusive historical narratives increase Muslim participants’ perceived centrality and entitlement, and their willingness to lead. Our findings indicate that battles over history may carry consequences for the descriptive representation of marginalized groups.

Working Papers

Aspirations for National Belonging and Preferences for Resistance among Marginalised Groups: Evidence from India

Runner up for the Cedric Smith Prize 2022.

Across the globe, ethnic minorities experience discrimination and exclusion amid rising ethnic nationalism. Yet, many minorities suffer in silence, fearing that participation in protest will challenge their commitment to the nation in the eyes of broader society. In this article, I theorize that collective action frames that draw on national symbols and portray ethnic grievances as pertaining to the nation, more broadly, can strengthen support for resistance movements among ethnic minorities. I test this theory through an original survey experiment with a sample of Indian Muslims (N=1,311). The findings reveal that “national identity frames” strengthen support for anti-Hindutva mobilization while “ethnic identity frames” weaken support when the centrality of Hindu identity to the Indian nation is salient. Overall, the findings suggest that minorities are more supportive of movements employing collective action frames that depict a positive-sum relationship between ethnic and national identity.

Exclusion, Social Identity and Prosocial Behaviour among High- and Low-Status Minorities: Experimental Evidence from India (with Shardul Vaidya)

Across the world, rising ethnic nationalism is leading to a deepening marginalization of ethnic minority communities. How does such exclusion affect marginalized group members’ sense of self and their commitment to the devalued in-group? Research suggests that minorities may respond to exclusion either by attaching more strongly to the minority group identity and defending the devalued group, or by disassociating from the devalued group in an attempt to seek acceptance by the majority. Through behavioural games in a laboratory setting in the field, this study explores how exclusion affects social identity choices and group commitment among Muslims in India. By randomly assigning a prime that highlights the symbolic exclusion suffered by Muslims in the context of rising Hindu nationalism, and by categorizing participants into high- and low-status groups, we study the role of social status in conditioning responses to exclusion. Specifically, we study responses to questions about social identity and behaviour in games aimed at eliciting pro-social behaviour towards in-group members among a sample of 320 Indian Muslims from Pune, Maharashtra. Our findings suggest that high- and low-status group members respond differently to exclusion; while the prime leads low-status group members to attach more strongly to their high-status (Maharashtrian) identity and reduces their contributions to Muslim in-group members and Muslim NGOs in dictator games, the prime has little effect on high-status minorities, somewhat increasing their contributions in dictator games. Our findings contribute to a growing literature on the effect of rejection on social identity choices and sociopolitical behaviour among marginalized groups.

Selected Ongoing Projects

  • Who Should Speak for the Voiceless? Preferences for Representation among Marginalised Groups
  • Assimilationist Policies and Integration Outcomes in Danish Vulnerable Neighbourhoods (with Mathilde Emeriau, Vasiliki Fouka and Nicholas Haas)
  • The Effect of Majoritarian Politics on Cognitive Functions and Social Identity Choices (with Joseph Gomes, Ritwik Banerjee and Amma Panin)
  • Evaluating the Effects of Inclusive Historical Narratives on Anti-Democratic Attitudes (with Nicholas Haas)
  • Conceptions of National Identity and Ambivalence toward Humanitarian Relief (with Matthias Mader and Harald Schoen)