Kristin Plys

Kristin Plys's picture
Ph.D. Candidate
B.A. Cross-National Sociology and International Development, with Honors (The Johns Hopkins University)
Areas of Interest: 
Political Economy; Development; Labor; Historical Sociology; Global South.
“Anticolonial Labor Movements and the Postcolonial Totalitarian State: Indian Coffee House from Independence to Emergency, 1947-1977”

My research sits at the intersection of political economy, postcolonial theory, sociology of development, labor and labor movements, historical sociology, and global area studies. The greater part of my intellectual work analyzes the historical trajectory of global capitalism as seen from working class and anticolonial movements in the Global South. This research program has led me to take a particular interest in ‘Third World’ political economy in the mid-20th century, shifts in the global trade balance between Early Modern Europe and Asia, the theories of political economy that help to analyze these historical phenomena, along with temporality and historical method in the historical social sciences. My dissertation analyzes the politics of development in postcolonial India through the lens of Indian Coffee House. In 1947, in the heat of the national liberation movement, workers of the Coffee House, then operated by the British colonial coffee board, occupied their workplaces and assumed control of the firm. A decade later they began to self-manage production in the key New Delhi branch; subsequent branches followed suit. I look to two pivotal moments in postcolonial Indian history – Independence (1947) and The Emergency (1975) – to examine the Indian Coffee House workers’ conflictual relationship with the state over development policy and its outcomes. Coffee House workers crafted a series of new institutional practices and political and social movement approaches to state development strategy. My thesis embeds this analytical narrative in a larger sociological frame, examining the conditions under which representatives of working-class movements contended with, and developed alternatives to, dominant paradigms of economic development, thereby shaping the trajectory of national political economy. Why Indian Coffee House became and remained a potent center of institutional and cultural creativity over such a long period is a puzzle at the core of my dissertation.

Recent Publications 

  • Kristin Plys. Forthcoming. “Political Deliberation and Democratic Reversal in India: Indian Coffee House during The Emergency (1975-77) and the Third World ‘Totalitarian Moment’” Theory and Society.
  • Kristin Plys. 2016 “Immanuel Wallerstein.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology. Ed. Janeen Baxter. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kristin Plys. (2016). “Worker Self-Management in the Third World, 1952-1979”, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 57(1): 1-28.
  • Kristin Plys. (2015). “World-Systems Analysis and its Relevance for Kerala Today,” Journal of Polity and Society, August.
  • Kristin Plys. (2015). “Book review of Workers’ Self-Management in the Caribbean: The Writings of Joseph Edwards by Joseph Edwards,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 56(3-4): 299-301.
  • Kristin Plys. (2014). Financialization, Crisis, and the Development of Capitalism in the United StatesWorld Review of Political Economy 5(1): 24-44.
  • Kristin Plys. (2014). “Book review of The Darjeeling Distinction by Sarah Besky,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 55(4): 345-347.
  • Kristin Plys. (2013). “Eurocentrism and the Origins of Capitalism,” Review (Fernand Braudel Center) 36(1).
  • Vani Kulkarni and Kristin Plys. (2013). “Explaining the Prevalence of Rape in Delhi NCR” Global Review 3(3).
  • Kristin Plys. (2012). “World Systemic and Kondratieff Cycles” Yale Journal of Sociology 9: 130-160.