Leela Fernandes

Leela Fernandes


Leela Fernandes’ scholarship focuses on questions of inequality and change. She has published on inequality  and democratic politics in contemporary India and on contemporary feminism in the U.S and internationally. She has pursued this research agenda through extensive field research on labor politics, democratization and the politics of economic reform in India. An ongoing foundation of Professor Fernandes’ research is the study of social inequality with a particular emphasis on researching and theorizing class identity and inequality. Her focus on identity, culture and politics has also led her to work extensively on qualitative and interdisciplinary methods including ethnographic and interpretive methods.  Another dimension of Professor Fernandes’ research is the study of gender in shaping cultural, economic and political processes. She has worked on theories of intersectionality and has also examined the gendered dimensions of nationalism and transnationalism.

Leela Fernandes has recently finished two books, Governing Water in India: Inequality, Reform and the State (University of Washington Press, August 2022) and an expanded second edition of the Routledge Handbook on Gender and South Asia (November 2021).

Professor Fernandes previously taught at University of Michigan, Rutgers University, New Brunswick and Oberlin College. At Michigan she served as the Director of the Center for South Asian Studies and was a senior fellow at the Michigan Society of Fellows.


  • University of Chicago, PhD., Political Science, 1994
  • University of Chicago, M.A., International Relations, 1989
  • University of Michigan, B.S.E., Computer Engineering, 1987
  • University of Michigan, B.A., English Literature, 1987

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