My research has focused on various aspects of gender and politics in India. In my dissertation (published as Women and Social Change in India) I examined the campaigns of women’s organizations for political representation and person al law reform during the nationalist movement. During two research trips to India in the late 1970’s I met an Indian scholar, Mira Savara, and she and I collaborated on several research projects during the 1980’s. We studied the participation of women in micro-credit in Bombay, asking, under what conditions did women benefit? We found that women’s organization were able to use micro-credit as an organizing tool to empower women. We also examined the organizational participation of women workers in the informal economy. In the 1990’s I investigated why the Maharashtra state law banning sex-determination tests had been so ineffective. I also wrote about the multiplicity of women’s movements in India in a book I co-edited, Women, the State and Development. In 2001, I published an article exploring the tensions between Hindu and Muslim women’s movement leaders during the nationalist period. A 1993 Indian constitutional amendment mandates that one-third of the elected representatives in the three-tiered panchayat system (rural local government) be women, and in 2005 I had a research Fulbright to study how this important reform is working.
On research fellowships to India from the American Institute of Indian Studies, Ford Foundation and Fulbright, I have benefited from working with Indian social scientists at the Women’s Studies Centres of universities in Bombay and Pune. My fieldwork has combined participant observation, interviews, survey research and document collection. I am inspired by the many women activists working for social justice in India.