Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Susan Ostermann — Capacity Beyond Coercion: Regulatory Pragmatism and Compliance Along the India-Nepal Border

Event Poster

Friday, March 26, 2021

11:00am – 12:30pm EST

Discussant: Arun Agarwal, University of Michigan

Susan L. Ostermann is Assistant Professor of Global Affairs at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. She completed her Ph.D. in the Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds a law degree from Stanford Law School and worked for several years as a practicing litigator, focusing on class actions and intellectual property disputes.

Employing both quantitative and qualitative methodology, Ostermann seeks to understand why we sometimes see compliance with regulations in very unlikely places: those in which the state is weak and actors, be they individuals or organizations, have strong incentives to break the law. Her dissertation develops the concept of regulatory pragmatism to explain variation in strategies used by both the Nepali and Indian states to secure compliance with conservation, education and child labor regulations under challenging conditions.

While Professor Ostermann’s research focuses mainly on regulatory compliance in South Asia, she is broadly interested in understanding norms and how they change. Towards this end, she has published papers on inter-caste marriage and the role of skin color in Indian politics. Her current projects are designed to explore the historical roots of conservatism in Indian political thought, the development and expansion of the Indian Election Commission, and variation in sex-ratios throughout the subcontinent. She has also published work on the Indian bureaucracy, state capacity in South Asia, and the 2014 Indian general election.

Ostermann’s work has been published in Asian SurveyStudies in Comparative International Development, the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and PoliticsStudies in Indian Politics and Law & Policy.

Joint Seminar on South Asian Politics