Mary E. John



  • Ph.D. Women’s Studies (University of California at Santa Cruz)
  • M.Phil (Philosophy), University of Puna
  • M.A. (Economics), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Mary E John has been working in the fields of women’s studies and feminist politics for many years. She was Director of CWDS from 2006-2012, and before that was Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Women’s Studies Programme at JNU, New Delhi from 2001-2006.



  • (co-edited with Meena Gopal), Women in the Worlds of Labour:  Interdisciplinary and Intersectional Perspectives Orient Blackswan forthcoming.
  • Planning Families, Planning Gender: Addressing the Adverse Sex Ratio in selected districts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, with support from ActionAid India and IDRC, Canada, Books for Change, 2008. (co-authored with Ravinder Kaur, Rajni Palriwala, Saraswati Raju and Alpana Sagar.) Translated into Hindi and Punjabi 2010
  • Women’s Studies in India: A Reader, New Delhi: Penguin, 2008
  • (co-edited with Janaki Nair) Kamsootra se ‘Kamsootre’ Tak: Adhunik Bharat mein sexuality ke sarokar, trans. Abhay Kumar Dubey, New Delhi: Vani Prakashan, 2008.
  • (co-edited with Praveen Kumar Jha and Surinder S. Jodhka) Contested Transformations: Changing Economies and Identities in Contemporary India, New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2006.
  • (co-edited with Danielle Haase-Dubosc et al) Essais du feminisme Indienne contemporaine, Paris: Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2003.
  • (co-edited with Danielle Haase-Dubosc et al), French Feminism: an Indian Anthology, New Delhi: Sage, 2003.
  • (co-edited with Janaki Nair), A Question of Silence? The Sexual Economies of Modern India, New Delhi: Kali for Women 1998 and London: Zed Press 2000.
  • Discrepant Dislocations: Feminism, Theory and Post-colonial Histories, Berkeley: University of California Press and Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996.


  • The Political and Social Economy of Sex Selection: Exploring Family-Development Linkages, UNFPA and UNWomen, 2018 in press.
  • The Journey from Victim to Survivor: Challenges for Justice, Workshop Report with Partners for Law in Development, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi, 2016.
  • Saksham, Measures for Ensuring Safety of Women and Programmes for Gender Sensitization on Campuses, UGC Task Force (co-chair), University Grants Commission, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, December 2013.
  • Researching Sex Ratios and Gender Biased Sex Selection: History, Debates and Future Directions; UN Women and UNFPA, New Delhi, 2014.
  • National People’s Tribunal: Living Wage as a Fundamental Right of Indian Garment Workers, Report, January 2012. (co-author)
  • Equity in Higher Education: Identifying critical gender concerns (Policy Brief) UN Women, New Delhi 2012.

Journal Guest Editor

  • Special Section: Remembering Vina Mazumdar, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, vol. 24, nos. 1-2. 2017.
  • Rethinking Violence, Review of Women’s Studies, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 50, no.44, October 31 2015.
  • Democratizing Knowledge: A Symposium on Reforming Higher Education, Seminar, no. 624 August 2011
  • Review of Women’s Studies: Economic and Political Weekly vol. 43 no. 43, October 2008 (IAWS plenary panel on Fields of Knowledge)
  • Women and Feminisms in Contemporary Asia special issue of Interventions: International Journal of Post-colonial Studies vol.9, no. 2, 2007
  • Feminisms in Asia: Special Issue of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (with Tejaswini Niranjana), vol.3. no.3 2002
  • The Book Review South Asia and Gender Special (with Uma Chakravarti), vol.26, no.10, October 2002
  • Special Section: Women’s Studies in India: Crisis or Renewal? Indian Journal of Gender Studies vol.9 no.2 July-Dec 2002
  • Reservations and Women’s Movements, Economic and Political Weekly (Review of Women’s Studies), vol. 35, nos.43-44, October 2000. (Translated into Telugu as Streelu Prathinithyam, Anveshi Publications, Hyderabad, 2003.)
  • The Book Review Gender Special, vol.23, nos.1-2, January-February 1999.

Articles/Book Chapters

  • “Feminist Crossings in Time and Space: The Question of Culture”, in AnuAneja (ed.) Women’s and Gender Studies in India: Crossings, Routledge, in press.
  • “Politics and the Subject of Representation: The Case of Reservations for Women”, in Taking the Rights Path: Debates and Dilemmas in India, eds. Bijayalaxmi Nanda and Nupur Ray, New Delhi: Routledge, in press.
  • “The University: Histories, Ideas, Crises”, ed. Apoorvanand, Wasteland Books, in press.
  • “Women’s Labour through Life Narratives” in Avinash Kumar, Praveen Jha, Yamini Mishra eds. Labouring Women: Issues and Challenges in Contemporary India, Orient Blackswan, in press.
  • In Hindi, “Women’s Studies in India: Crisis or Renewal?” Women’s Studies in India, eds. Uma Chakravarti and Sadhna Arya, New Text, 2018, in press.
  • “Indisciplined Outpourings’ Myth and Bathos of Male Exclusion” (in Hindi), Women’s Studies in India, eds. Uma Chakravarti and Sadhna Arya, New Text, 2018, in press.
  • “The Woman Question: Reflections on Feminism and Marxism”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol 52, no 50, 16 December 2017.
  • Foreword, “Sexuality at Work! (Hetero) sexualisation of Work and Workplace, Student Writings”, Kranti Jyoti Savitribai Phule Centre for Women’s Studies, Pune University, 2017.
  • “Thinking about Politics and State Power with Vina Mazumdar”, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 24, vol. 1, 2017.
  • “Evolution of a Debate on Sex Ratios”, Thirty Five years of the IAWS, XV National Conference on Women’s Studies, Chennai, 2017.
  • “Adverse Child Sex Ratios, Mindsets and Government Policy”, Special issue on Women’s Empowerment, Yojana, vol. 60, September 2016
  • “A Silent Revolution? Gender, Sexual Harassment and the Democratization of Higher Education” IIC Quarterly, special issue Education at the Crossroads (eds. Apoorvanand and Omita Goyal) Winter- Spring 2016.
  • “Sex Ratios and Sex Selection: Challenges of Law and Policy”, in Neerja Ahlawat (ed.) Gender Discrimination and the Development Paradox, Rawat Publications, 2016.
  • “Before or after Birth? Child Mortality, Sex Selection and the Girl Child”, Social Development Report 2014: Challenges to Public Health, Centre for Social Development and Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • “Intersectionality: Rejection or Critical Dialogue?”  (Discussion) Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 50, no. 33, August 15 2015.
  • “Bharat mai aapatkal: ‘Rajnaitik’ ki samajh par kuchh vichar” (in Hindi) Alochana, no. 54, April June 2015. (translated by Abha Gupta Thakur).
  • “Reflections on Feminism and Marxism” (in Malayalam, trans. Mini Sukumar), Marx Vayanakal, ed. T.V. Madhu, Raspberry Books, Kozhikode, 2015.
  • “Feminism, Feminism Everywhere? Some Reflections on Concepts, Location and Colonial Modernities”, Review Essay of The Birth of Chinese Feminism, eds. Lydia Liu, Rebecca Karl and Dorothy Ko, Columbia University Press 2013,  Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
  • “Sex Ratios and Sex Selection: Challenges of Law and Policy” in India’s Children: essays on Social Policy, eds. A.K. Shiva Kumar, Preet Rastogi and Ramya Subramanian, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • “The Emergency, Democracy and the Legibility of the Political”, Inter Asia Cultural Studies, vol.15, no. 4, 2014.
  • “Feminist Vocabularies in Time and Space” Made in Circulation: Global Knowledge Production in the Social Sciences, ed. Wiebke Keim et al, Ashgate Press, 2014.
  • “Sex Ratios and Sex Selection: History and the Present”, Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia, edited Leela Fernandes, Routledge: London and New York, 2014.
  • Feminist Concepts in Time and Space: Perspectives from India, Economic and Political Weekly, 2014, vol. 49, no. 22, May 31st 2014.
  • “Reframing Globalisation and Internationalism: Feminisms in India and the Question of Asia”, Women’s Studies in India: the last Twenty Five years, ed. Manjeet Bhatia, Shelly Tara, Rawat Publications, New Delhi, 2014.
  • “The Problem of Women’s Labour: Some Autobiographical Perspectives”, Special Issue on Labour, Gender and Social Reproduction edited by Meena Gopal, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, vol.20, no.2, June 2013.
  • “Gender and Higher Education in the Time of Reforms”, Contemporary Education Dialogue, vol. 9, no.2, 2012.
  • “Making their mark against heavy odds: An essay on the foundational texts of feminism”, Biblio vol. 17, nos 3-4, March-April 2012.
  • “Feminism, Poverty and the Emergent Social Order” in Handbook of Gender, ed. Raka Ray, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • “Globalisation, Sexuality and the Visual Field: Issues and Non-Issues for Cultural Critique,” in Kavita Panjabi and Paromita Chakravarti ed. Women Contesting Culture: Changing Frames of Gender Politics in India, Kolkata: Stree Publications, 2012.
  • “Sexing the Foetus: Feminist Politics and Method across Cultures”, Positions: East Asia Cultural Critique, vol. 19, no. 1, Spring 2011.
  • “Institutional Citizenship, Research Cultures and the State”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 46, no.33, August 13 2011.
  • (with Janaki Nair) “Commissions, Reports and the Difference they Make”, Seminar 694 August 2011.
  • “Census 2011: Governing Populations and the Girl Child”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 46, no. 16, April 16th 2011.
  • “The Politics of Quotas and the Women’s Reservation Bill in India” in Miyoki Tsujimura and Jackie F. Steele (eds) Gender Equality in Asia, Japan: Tohoku University Press, 2011.
  • (with Satish Deshpande) “The Politics of Not Counting Caste”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol.45, no.25, June 19-25 2010.
  • “Reframing Globalisation: Perspectives from the Women’s Movement”, Special Issue on the Postnational Condition, Economic and Political Weekly, vol.44, no. 9, March 7, 2009.
  • (with Imrana Qadeer) “The Business and Ethics of Surrogacy”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 44, no.2, January 10-16 2009.
  • (with Satish Deshpande) “Theorising the Present: Problems and Possibilities” (A Response to Partha Chatterjee), Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 43, no. 46, November 2008.
  • “New Agendas for Social Science Research”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol.43, no.5, February 2 2008.
  • “Reservations and the Women’s Movement in Twentieth Century India”, in Reservations for Women, ed. Meena Dhanda, New Delhi: Women Unlimited, 2008.

Occasional Paper

  • “Politics and the Subject of Representation: The Case of Reservations for Women”, Occasional Paper no. 56, Centre for Women’s Development Studies.