Htun, Mala

Mala Htun Pic

Mala Htun
PhD, Harvard University, 2000
Associate Professor of Political Science

Mala Htun is associate professor of political science at the New School for Social Research. She is the author of Sex and the State: Abortion, Divorce, and the Family under Latin American Dictatorships and Democracies (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and her work has appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Latin American Research Review, and Politics and Gender, among other journals and edited volumes. Her article, “Is Gender Like Ethnicity? The Political Representation of Identity Groups” won the Heinz Eulau award from the American Political Science Association and she has been supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and the National Security Education Program. A former fellow of the Kellogg Institute of the University of Notre Dame and the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard, she holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard and a A.B. in international relations from Stanford. Her current research focuses on the politics of representing women and ethnic and racial minorities in Latin America and worldwide.
Courses Taught:
  • Democratic Politics in Latin America
  • Sex and the State in Comparative Perspective
  • Comparative Politics Field Seminar
  • Representation, Politics, and the State
Recent Publications:
  • Sex and the State: Abortion, Divorce, and the Family under Latin American Dictatorships and Democracies, Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • “Gender, Parties, and Support for Equal Rights in the Brazilian Congress,” Latin American Politics and Society. Coauthored with Tim Power. 2006
  • “Gender Equality in Transition Polities: Comparative Perspectives on Cuba,” in Looking Forward:Cuba’s Democratic Transition, edited by Marifeli Pérez-Stable (Forthcoming in English from University of Notre Dame Press and in Spanish edition by Editorial Colibrí).
  • “What It Means to Study Gender and the State,” Politics and Gender 1, 2005.
  • “Women, Political Parties and Electoral Systems in Latin America,” in Women in Parliament. Beyond Numbers. A New Edition, eds. Julie Ballington and Azza Karam, Internacional IDEA, 2005.
  • “Democracy and Political Inclusion: The Andes in Comparative Perspective,” in Nadando contra la corriente: Mujeres y cuotas políticas en los países andinos, ed. Magdalena León, UNIFEM, 2005.
  • “Is Gender Like Ethnicity? The Political Representation of Identity Groups.” Perspectives on Politics 2, 2004. Winner of the Heinz Eulau Award from the American Political Science Association for the best article in the journal.
  • “From Racial Democracy to Affirmative Action: Changing State Policy on Race in Brazil.” Latin American Research Review 39, 2004. Abridged version also published in NACLA Report on the Americas 2005.
  • “Learning from Gender Quotas,” in Social Inclusion and Economic Development in Latin America, eds. Mayra Buvinic and Jacqueline Mazza, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
  • “Women and Democracy,” in Constructing Democratic Governance in Latin America, 2nd Edition, eds. Jorge I. Domínguez and Michael Shifter, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003. Also translated into Spanish.
Office Location:
The New School for Social Research
Political Science Department
79 Fifth Ave, Room 723
New York, NY  10011
Phone Number/Extension:
212-229-5747 x3085


Research Interests:
Htun's work focuses on the initiatives and responses that states take with regard to gender, race, and ethnicity. Her first book analyzed how-and whether-gender policy reform is possible in countries with hegemonic religious institutions undergoing major political changes. Through a close examination of the politics of abortion, divorce, and the family in Latin America, she theorized the gendered dimensions of transitions to democracy, religious conflict, and social activism. Her second book explains why governments offer guarantees of political inclusion—through candidate quotas in parties and reserved seats in parliament—to women, ethnic minorities, and subordinate racial groups. Her third book, written in collaboration with Laurel Weldon, will explore when and why governments promote women’s rights through a comparative analysis of the experiences of 70 countries between 1975 and 2005. Research for this project is being funded by the National Science Foundation.
Professional Affiliations:
  • Council on Foreign Relations (term member)
  • American Political Science Association
  • Latin American Studies Association
  • Midwest Political Science Association
Awards and Honors:
  • National Science Foundation award number SES-0550284, “Collaborative Research. States and Sex Equality: Why do Governments Promote Women’s Rights?” in the amount of $123,643 (2006)
  • Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship in Japan, sponsored by Hitachi Ltd (2006)
  • Heinz Eulau Award from the American Political Science Association for the best article in Perspectives on Politics (2005)
  • Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Visiting Fellow, University of Notre Dame (2004)
  • Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Bunting Fellow, Harvard University (2002-03)
  • Prize for the Best Dissertation on Women and Politics, Women and Politics Research Section, American Political Science Association (2000)
  • Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Fellowship (1997)
  • National Security Education Program Dissertation Fellowship (1997)
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow (1994 -1999)

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