School of Politics and International Relations

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Carole Spary

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Carole Spary joined Nottingham as an Assistant Professor in September 2014, and became Associate Professor in August 2019. Prior to this she was Lecturer in Politics at the University of York (2011-2014) and Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Warwick (2008-2011). She has a PhD in Politics from the University of Bristol.

Expertise Summary

Dr Spary's research and teaching focuses on aspects of democratic politics and development, particularly gender, development, political representation and political institutions, and specialises in politics and policy in India. She is the former convenor (2008-2016) of the Politics of South Asia Specialist Group of the UK's Political Studies Association.

Teaching Summary

Dr Spary convenes the third year undergraduate and MA modules Gender and Development, and the MA module Global Asia and teaches on the first year undergraduate modules Introduction to Comparative… read more

Research Summary

1. Gender, Development, and the State in India

This monograph, published by Routledge, critically evaluates the discursive and institutional changes relating to gender and development policy since the 1990s. In particular it considers the extent to which the concept of 'gender mainstreaming' has been adopted in India, and if so, how. Informed by global shifts in gender and development policy, it explores developments at national and sub-national levels to understand important factors influencing policy production, and the opportunities and challenges posed by multi-level governance in the context of India's federal system. By focusing on sub-national development policies and programs for women, it combines two wider concerns in contemporary comparative research: i) a focus on multi-level governance in development, in particular, changing centre-state relations in India in relation to development policy and divergent development policy approaches and outcomes among states, and ii) a focus on multi-level governance in relation to state feminism, which highlights how the state is a heterogeneous, internally differentiated collection of institutions, offering complex opportunities and consequences for women's movements engaging with the state. It is based on Dr Spary's ESRC-funded doctoral research.

As follow-on research related to this monograph, I am developing further research on the topic of gender and federalism in India (and in comparative context).

2. Performing representation: women parliamentarians and political participation in India

This British Academy Small Grant funded research project explores women's participation as elected representatives in the national parliament of India. It seeks to understand the institutional dynamics affecting the participation of women MPs as a minority group and the representation of gender in parliament. The analysis focuses on selected debates and parliamentary committees, including the Committee for the Empowerment of Women. It combines performance-oriented and institutionalist approaches to the study of political representation and parliaments.

This research forms part of a co-authored book with Professor Shirin M. Rai, Performing Representation: Women Members in the Indian Parliament, (Oxford University Press, 2019).

I am also continuing with further research on women's political participation in India, especially for the 2019 general elections, as well as party nominations practices, renomination of women, and incumbency, and women in party political and parliamentary leadership positions in India.

Reviews of Performing Representation:

Recent media outputs:

Selected Publications

Dr Spary convenes the third year undergraduate and MA modules Gender and Development, and the MA module Global Asia and teaches on the first year undergraduate modules Introduction to Comparative Politics and the Making of Modern Asia.

Past Research

Past research has included analysis of:

  • Women candidates and electoral politics in India
  • Gender mainstreaming in development planning
  • Empowerment and micro-credit programmes
  • Gendered ceremony and ritual in parliaments
  • Disruption and deliberation in parliamentary debates
  • Female Speakers/Presiding Officers in parliaments
  • Symbolic politics of opening ceremonies of parliaments
  • Performance of ethno-linguistic representation in parliament

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