Emily K. Rains

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Dharavi, Mumbai, India
Emily Rains headshot
Welcome! I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University . I completed a dual Ph.D. at Duke University in Public Policy and Political Science in May 2021.

My research examines the policy and political implications of urbanization in developing countries. In one area of work, I draw on field and survey experiments, analysis of satellite and spatial data, and application of machine learning techniques to locate, study, and describe policy challenges associated with urban poverty and informality. In a related area of work, I draw on qualitative case studies and analyze original survey data to develop and test theory explaining how poverty and informality shape political beliefs and behavior in cities in the Global South. My primary regional focus is on India, but I have also conducted fieldwork in several countries in East and Southern Africa.

My dissertation, "Negotiating Informality, Negotiating Citizenship: How Neighborhood Characteristics Shape Political Behavior in Urban Slums," explores how "slums" vary with respect to their physical and political characteristics, and how these characteristics affect individual political beliefs and behavior. I examine how this variation leads to distinct forms of political behavior and differing policy needs, and how it ultimately affects development trajectories. You can read more about this project and my other papers here.
I am committed to conducting research that can be used to inform policy, and have experience consulting to practitioners. I have provided research support to Techo , a nonprofit that works with informal settlements in Latin America, and I am currently providing research support on an urban land tenure evaluation in Mozambique through the DevLab@Duke.
I hold an MA in Political Science (2017) from Duke University and a BA with Honors in Economics (2011) from Stanford University . Immediately prior to beginning my Ph.D., I worked for two years in Bihar, India with IDinsight, a nonprofit that conducts development research for policymakers.
Please reach out to me if you are interested in partnering! You can find my CV here, contact me here , or follow me on Twitter here .