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Malini Ranganathan

Assistant Professor
School of International Service

  • Additional Positions at AU

    Faculty Fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Center, School of Public Affairs
  • Dr Ranganathan is an interdisciplinary geographer with a special interest in postcolonial cities. Her scholarship is broadly concerned with the political economy of the urban environment and sits at the intersection of urban political ecology, critical urban studies, and development. Most of her research to date has focused on water and land governance in Bangalore/Bengaluru in India. Her historic and ethnographic research here argues that new water pricing policy is central to struggles over the right to tenure security given widespread urban informality. A related project delves into the political economy of wetland redevelopment, showing how Bangalore’s wetlands have become sites for land grabbing, accumulation, and state-corporate corruption. The resulting heightened flood risk has fueled demands for a more sustainable and democratic city. Finally, she brings insights from postcolonial cities to bear on urban space and inequality in the US. To that end, she has just launched a newly funded project, “Tackling Urban Vulnerability: Lessons for Building Community Resilience and Climate Justice in Washington, DC”, which aims to document and address the racial inequities and ecological risks faced by communities on either side of the Anacostia.

    Her research is published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Geography, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, and Water Alternatives among other leading journals, as well as several edited books on the South Asian city. Previously, Dr Ranganathan was a post-doctoral fellow based out of the Department of Geography at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has also worked at TERI, New Delhi; ENDA-Tiers Monde, Dakar; and the Asian Development Bank, Manila. At SIS, Dr Ranganathan teaches SISU 250 (Environmental Sustainability and Global Health), SISU 349 (Global Cities, Justice, and the Environment), and SIS 620 (Urban Political Ecology).

  • Degrees

    PhD, University of California, Berkeley

    MS, University of California, Berkeley

    BA, Bard College, NY

  • Book Currently Reading:

    "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Languages Spoken:

    French (fluent)

  • SIS-School of Intl Service
  • SIS - 301
  • Fall 2015: Tues 11am-1pm (Sign-up), Thurs 1-2pm (Drop-in), or kindly email for an appointment. To sign up, please use the SignUp Genius link below under "See Also".

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Partnerships & Affiliations


  • Spring 2015

    • SIS-620 Stds in Global Envirn Politics: Urban Political Ecology
    • Description

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Political economy of development, urban inequality and environmental justice, citizen-state relations, water and land politics, flood risk, climate change vulnerability, discourse analysis, ethnography, archival research, geographic information systems (GIS), Indian cities, Washington, DC, theorizing from the global South

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • 2015. Metropolitan Policy Center Faculty Research Grant with Dr. Eve Bratman  "Tackling Urban Vulnerability: Lessons for Building Community Resilience and Climate Justice in Washington, DC".
  • 2007-2009. National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, Geography and Spatial Sciences Program, Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences: "Seeing Like a Citizen: Technologies of Governance and Urban Service Delivery in Bangalore".

Professional Presentations

Selected Invited Talks

 Selected Conference Presentations and Panels

  • 2015. “Conjuring Land from Water: Law, Materiality, and Discursive Politics in Urban Wetland Redevelopment” at Land Fictions: The Commodification of Land in City and Country conference, Rutgers University, May 1-2.
  • 2015. "Storm Flows and Capital Fixes: Rematerializing Flood Risk in the Informal City" at session on STS and Urban Infrastructure in the South, Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Chicago, April 21-25.
  • 2014. “The Ethical City? Critical Geographies of Corruption and Accountability in Urban India”. Panel co-organizer and co-presenter (with Sapana Doshi) at session on Critical Geographies of Corruption and Accountability, Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Tampa, April 8-12, 2014.
  • 2014. “Pluralizing ‘the State’ in Urban Political Ecology: State Formation and Water Politics in Bangalore, India”, Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference, University of Kentucky, Lexington, February 27-29, 2014.
  • “Mafias in the Waterscape: Public Authority and Informality in Bangalore”. UNESCO-IHE Conference Informal Space in the Urban Waterscape, Delft, December 4-6, 2012.


Selected Publications


Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • 2011-2013. Post-Doctoral Fellow, Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy (SDEP), Department of Geography and Beckman Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
  • 2009-2010. Chancellor’s Dissertation-Year Fellowship in the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of California, Berkeley.
  • 2007-2008. John L. Simpson Memorial Research Fellowship in International and Comparative Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
  • 2007-2008. American Institute of Indian Studies (headquartered at the University of Chicago) Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.
  • 2006. Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, University of California, Berkeley.
  • 2006. Center for South Asian Studies Summer Research Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley.
  • 2005. Center for Human Rights Summer Research Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley.

Media Appearances

Professional Services

  • 2015-2017. Board Member, Urban Geography Specialty Group (UGSG), Association of American Geographers (AAG).
  • 2015-2017. At-Large Councilor, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group (CAPE), Association of American Geographers (AAG).