Johns Hopkins India Institute: Women in Law and Legacies of Socioeconomic Inequality in India

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REGISTER BELOW to tune in on Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 at 12 PM ET

Please join the Johns Hopkins India Institute and Hopkins at Home for a panel discussion on the role of women in the legal profession and the legacies of socioeconomic inequality in India. Drawing from both literary and social science perspectives, the panel will feature JHU alumna and award-winning literary author, Sujatha Massey, and socio-legal scholar and critical feminist, Dr. Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen. In 2021, both Ms. Massey and Dr. Ballakrishnen released their books on women and law in India.  Ms. Massey released the third installment of her Perveen Mistry Series, The Bombay Prince (Soho Crime Press), a historical fiction in which one of India’s first female lawyers investigates murders set in the riots during the Prince of Wales’ visit to India in the 1920s. Dr. Ballakrishnen published Accidental Feminism (Princeton University Press), which examines how gendered socialization and essentialism, family structures and dynamics, and firm and regulatory histories afford elite female lawyers in contemporary India more egalitarian outcomes than are available to their local and global peers. Dr. Rina Agarwala, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University, will moderate the discussion.  Dr. Agarwala’s work focuses on how vulnerable populations, particularly Indian informal workers and migrants, assert their rights through social movements. 

ABOUT Dr. Rina Agarwala
Associate Professor, Sociology; Director of Undergraduate Studies

Rina Agarwala is Associate Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. Rina publishes and lectures on international development, labor, migration, gender, social movements, and Indian politics.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Informal Labor, Formal Politics and Dignified Discontent in India (Cambridge, 2013) and the co-editor of Whatever Happened to Class? Reflections from South Asia (Routledge, 2008 and 2016). Her forthcoming book, India’s Migration Development Regime: A Class Story, examines Indian emigration to the Middle East and the US from the 1920s to the present.  Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Rina  worked at the United Nations Development Program in China, the Self-Employed Women’s Association in India, and Women’s World Banking in New York. She holds a BA in Economics and Government from Cornell University, an MPP in Political and Economic Development from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a PhD. in sociology and demography from Princeton University.

ABOUT Dr. Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen
Assistant Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine

Swethaa Ballakrishnen is an Assistant Professor of Law (and, by courtesy, of Sociology, Asian American Studies, and Criminology, Law and Society) at the University of California, Irvine. Primarily oriented within a critical socio-legal praxis, they write, think, and teach about law's connection to actors/institutions/relationships at the periphery, usually around identities/queers/souths.

Their work has appeared in, among other journals, the Law and Society Review, Law and Social Inquiry, International Journal of the Legal Profession, and the Canadian Review of Sociology. Their first book, Accidental Feminism, explores the case of unintended gender parity in the Indian legal profession (Princeton University Press, 2021). Other book projects focus on collaborative legal globalization (Invisible Institutionalisms, ed. w/Sara Dezalay), gendered inheritances of constitutional privacy (Gender Regimes w/Kalpana Kannabiran), and inequ(al)ities in legal education (ed. w/Bryant Garth).

Their service commitments extend these teaching and research interests. They currently serve as an elected trustee/executive council member on the boards of the Law and Society Association, ASA Section on Sociology of Law, ISA’s Research Committee on Sociology of Law, and AALS Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education/Profession. At UCI, they co-run a center on the legal profession, a critical interdisciplinary graduate emphasis and a workshop on socio-legal studies.

Swethaa holds law degrees from the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (India) and Harvard Law School, and a PhD in Sociology from Stanford University (2015).

ABOUT Sujata Massey
Author; KSAS '86

Sujata Massey is the author of fifteen novels that have been published in twenty countries, as well as two novellas and numerous short stories. Her novels have won the Agatha, Lefty and Macavity and Mary Higgins Clark awards and been finalists for the Edgar and Anthony mystery awards and the Harper Lee Legal Fiction Prize.  Sujata currently writes mystery fiction set in pre-Independence India that focuses on the lives of Indian women seeking agency in their society. She’s also the author of a modern mystery series set in Japan.

Born in England to parents from India and Germany, Sujata was raised primarily in St. Paul, Minnesota, although her home for almost thirty years has been Baltimore, Maryland. She earned a B.A. in Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and wrote features for the Baltimore Evening Sun newspaper before becoming a novelist.

Sujata’s blog postings and updates on activities are found at and at SujataMasseyAuthor on Facebook and on Instagram @sujatamasseyauthor. To get an occasional free news bulletin containing publishing news from Sujata, sign up for the Sujata Massey Author Newsletter.

 Event Date
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Start Time: 12:00pm EDT
End Time: 1:00pm EDT

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Baltimore, MD 21218

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