- Additional Positions at AU
- Faculty Affiliate, Antiracist Research and Policy Center
- Faculty Fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Center, School of Public Affairs
- Faculty Affiliate, Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies
- Book Currently Reading
- Khal Torabully's "Cargohold of Stars: Coolitude"
Malini Ranganathan is Associate Professor in the School of International Service at American University and a political ecologist and geographer by training. Most broadly, she is a scholar of urban environmental justice interested in the political economy of land, labor, and ecology in the capitalist city. She researches environmental casteism and environmental racism in urban contexts, what she refers to as "environmental unfreedoms." Specifically, she studies how caste and racial histories shape segregated housing and property relations, water and sanitation access, and flood and climate vulnerability. She works on both India and the U.S. She is currently working on a book, The Urbanization of Caste Power: Land, Labor, and Environmental Politics in Bengaluru. The book re-examines Bengaluru through the analytic of caste power, tracing the historical and contemporary production of housing, labor, and flooding and other ecological inequities. It considers how slum, legal, and union activism disrupts injustices perpetuated by caste and class power. She is co-author of Corruption Plots: Stories, Ethics, and Publics of the Late Capitalist City (Cornell Press, 2023). The monograph weaves together ethnographic and literary analysis to argue that corruption politics lie at the heart of, rather than being a deviation from, (neo)liberal capitalism and its 21st century authoritarian guises. Not merely a synonym for bribery or illegality, "corruption talk" is deployed by various caste, racial, and class formations to make sense of elite abuses of power and deepening ecological, economic, and spatial inequality in cities. Finally, Dr. Ranganathan investigates environmental racism and climate justice in American cities. Her work on abolitionist climate justice in Washington, DC was featured on NPR. Most recently, she is part of a team that was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for RECIPES, a project that promotes equitable and sustainable urban and regional food systems. For an overview of her transnational approach to research and teaching, stream this podcast. In 2023, Dr Ranganathan was recognized with the Harold M. Rose Award for Antiracism Research and Practice from the American Association of Geographers. In 2020 and 2021 she won the SIS and university-wide awards respectively for Outstanding Contributions to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In 2022 she won the AU Morton-Bender Prize for achievements at the associate professor level. She won an American Council of Learned Societies-Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant in 2017-2019. Please visit her website to learn more about her research.
Her research is published in EP:D (Society and Space), Environmental Justice, Ethnic and Racial Studies, The Lancet - Global Health, The Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Progress in Human Geography, Environment and Planning: A (Economy and Society), Capitalism Nature Socialism, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Geography, and Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, among other journals. Her scholarship also appears in public venues such as e-Flux Architecture, Society and Space, and Black Perspectives. She serves on the editorial boards of Antipode, The Annals of the American Association of Geographers, and Environment and Planning: D (Society and Space). Previously, Dr Ranganathan was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Geography at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and has had research positions at TERI in New Delhi, ENDA-Tiers Monde in Dakar, and the Asian Development Bank in Manila. At SIS, Dr Ranganathan teaches SISU 250 (Environmental Sustainability and Global Health), SISU 349 (Global Cities, Justice, and the Environment), and SIS 620 (Environmental Justice).
- See Also
- 2022 Washington Post article on flooding and real estate corruption
- 2022 DOPE Keynote "Political Ecologies of Caste and Racial Capitalism: Remapping a Planetary Humanism"
- 2021 Keynote "Abolitionist and Emancipatory Futures: Anti-Racist Struggles and Climate Justice" at UCLA
- 2020 Panel "Confronting Caste I: Caste and the City" at King's College London
- For the Media
- To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
SIS-620 Stds in Global Envirn Politics: Environmental Justice
SIS-899 Doctoral Dissertation
SISU-250 Env Sustainblty/Global Health
SIS-899 Doctoral Dissertation
Metropolitan Policy Center
Antiracist Research and Policy Center
Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies
- 2023. Corruption Plots: Stories, Ethics, and Publics of the Late Capitalist City. Cornell University Press (with D Pike and S Doshi).
- 2022. Rethinking Difference in India Through Racialization: Caste, Tribe, and Hindu Nationalism in Transnational Perspective. Routledge (with JF Cháirez-Garza, MD Gergan, and P Vasudevan (Eds)).
Selected Journal Publications
- 2023. "Urban Climates: Towards Pluralistic Narratives and Expanded Lexicons."International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Published online April 20, 2023 (with N Rahman and others).
- 2022. "Coda: The Racial Ecologies of Wetlands," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Published online August 25, 2022.
- 2022. "Racial Regimes of Property: An Introduction," Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 40 (2): 197-207 (with A Bonds).
- 2022. "Towards a Political Ecology of Caste and the City", Journal of Urban Technology 29 (1): 135-143.
- 2022. "Rethinking Difference in India Through Racialization: An Introduction", Ethnic and Racial Studies 45 (2): 193-215 (with JF Cháirez-Garza, MD Gergan, and P Vasudevan).
- 2022. "Caste, Racialization, and the Making of Environmental Unfreedoms in Urban India," Ethnic and Racial Studies 45 (2): 257-277.
- 2022. "Decolonizing the Green City: From Environmental Privilege to Emancipatory Green Justice", Environmental Justice 15 (1): 1-11 (with I Anguelovski, A Brand, and D Hyra).
- 2021. "The Racial Inequalities of Green Gentrification in Washington, DC" (with I Anguelovski and D Hyra) in I Anguelovski and J Connolly (eds) The Green City and Social Injustice: 21 Tales from North America and Europe. New York: Routledge.
- 2021. "Time to take Critical Race Theory seriously: Moving Beyond a Colorblind Gender Lens in Global Health", The Lancet - Global Health (with E Yam, M Silva, J White, T Hope, C Ford).
- 2021. "From Urban Resilience to Abolitionist Climate Justice in Washington, DC" (with E Bratman). Antipode 53 (1): 115-137.
- 2020. "Empire’s Infrastructures: Racial Finance Capitalism and Liberal Necropolitics", Urban Geography 41 (4): 492-496.
- 2019. "Towards a Critical Geography of Corruption and Power in Late Capitalism" (with S Doshi). Progress in Human Geography 43 (3) 436-457.
- 2018. "Beyond Third World Comparisons: America's Geography of Water, Race, and Poverty". International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Spotlight Series on Parched Cities.
- 2018. "Rule By Difference: Empire, Liberalism, and the Legacies of Urban 'Improvement'". Environment and Planning: A (Economy and Space) 50 (7): 1386–1406. See media coverage "Legacies of Colonial Urban Planning in Bangalore"
- 2017. "The Environment as Freedom: A Decolonial Reimagining. Social Science Research Council Items, reprinted in Black Perspectives, African American Intellectual History Society blog.
- 2017. "The Color of Corruption: Whiteness and Populist Narratives" (with S Doshi). Society and Space, the blog for the journal Environment and Planning: D.
- 2017. "Contesting the Unethical City: Land Dispossession and Corruption Narratives in Urban India" (with S Doshi). Annals of the American Association of Geographers 107 (1): 183-199.
- 2016. "Thinking with Flint: Racial Liberalism and the Roots of an American Water Tragedy". Capitalism Nature Socialism 27 (3): 17-33.
INVITED KEYNOTES (only recent)
- 2022. "Political Ecologies of Caste and Racial Capitalism: Remapping a Planetary Humanism." Invited to give the 2022 Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference Keynote.
- 2021. "Abolition and Climate Justice in Transnational Perspective." Invited to the "Abolitionist and Emancipatory Futures: Antiracist Struggles and Climate Justice" panel, part of the Global Black Lives Matter Series at the University of California, Los Angeles.
- 2019. "Towards an Anticaste and Abolitionist Epistemology for Environmental Justice in Urban India". Invited to give the keynote lecture at the "Urban Climates: Power, Development, and Environment in South Asia" conference, Dartmouth College.
- 2019. "The Environment as Freedom: Racial Capitalism and Environmental Justice". Invited to speak at the Mellon Research Initiative in Racial Capitalism at the University of California, Davis.
- 2019. "The Environment as Freedom: Decolonizing Urban Property, Reimagining Justice". Invited to give the annual honorary John Treacy Memorial Lecture (voted on as a "renowned pre-tenure scholar" by Geography graduate students) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
CONFERENCE PAPERS AND PANELS (only recent)
- 2020. "Confronting Caste I: Caste and the City," organized by King's College London
- 2020. "Anticaste Ecological Politics", organized by Suraj Yengde for Dialogics
- 2019. "An Ethics of Antiracism, Abolitionism, and Care in Urban Climate Justice", Urban Affairs Association Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, April 26.
- 2022. "Theorizing City, Capital, and Caste from the Ground Up," Society and Space.
- 2022. "Urban flooding has everything to do with real estate corruption," Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog.
- 2022. "Contract workers in PSUs–marginalised castes, women, main victims of discrimination," Citizen Matters.
- 2021. "At Indian Telephone Industries in Bengaluru, Workers Fight a Battle Seen Across the Public Sector," The Wire.
- 2020. "Caste and the City," King's College London's Series Confronting Caste.
- 2020. "Climate Justice," SIS Local to Global.
- 2020. "Anticaste Ecological Politics," Dialogics.
- 2020. "What it Means to be Antiracist", Vox.com.
- 2019. "Climate Change Won't Affect All Washingtonians Equally." DCist, September 19, 2019.
- 2019. "Marginalized Communities In D.C. Are Already Struggling. Climate Change Will Make That Worse". Kojo Nnamdi Show, WAMU 88.5, September 17, 2019.
- 2019. "Decolonizing Infrastructure in India and the United States: An Interview with Malini Ranganathan", EDGE Effects, Center for Culture, History, and the Environment, University of Wisconsin, Madison, June 4, 2019.
- 2019. "Climate Justice in Washington, DC", SIS Breaks it Down.
Grants and Sponsored Research
- 2021-2026. National Science Foundation Grant, RECIPES, focused on sustainable and equitable food systems (part of a team led by AU faculty S Siddiqui)
- 2018-2019. Antipode Foundation International Workshop Award for "Rethinking Difference in India: Racialization in Transnational Perspective" (with J Cháirez-Garza, M Gergan, and P Vasudevan).
- 2017-2019. American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)-Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Collaborative Research Grant "Corruption Plots, Imagined Publics: The Ethics of Space in the Millennial City" (with S Doshi and D Pike).
- 2016-2017. Faculty Research Support Grant "Urban Revolution? Anti-Corruption and Environmental Justice in India".
- 2015-2016. Metropolitan Policy Center Faculty Research Grant "Tackling Urban Vulnerability: Lessons for Building Community Resilience and Climate Justice in Washington, DC" (with E Bratman).
Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
- 2023. American Association of Geographers Harold M. Rose Award for Antiracism Research and Practice
- 2022. American University Morton-Bender Prize, recognizing "professional achievement since attainment of the rank of associate professor and to facilitate the faculty member's progress towards the rank of full professor"
- 2021. American University Faculty Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- 2020. SIS Outstanding Contributions to Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award
- 2018. SIS Scholar-Teacher of the Year Award (co-recipient)
- 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
Environmental justice and urban political ecology in India and the U.S., labour and property studies, critical development studies, Ambedkarite and anticaste theory, Black Marxism, decolonial and postcolonial theory, critical race theory.
Area of Expertise
Environmental racism in the U.S., antiracism, climate justice, environmental justice, segregation, environmental politics in India
Malini Ranganathan is an urban geographer and political ecologist whose research focuses on environmental justice, land and real estate politics, and climate change vulnerability in India and the U.S. She is a co-author of the book Corruption Plots: Stories, Ethics, and Publics of the Late Capitalist City published by Cornell University Press and co-editor of Rethinking Difference in in India through Racialization published by Routledge Press. She has also authored several academic journal articles and is currently working on two book manuscripts related to caste, race, and urban environmental and social justice. Her work appears in media and scholarly outlets such as the Washington Post, WAMU, Vox, Black Perspectives, and Society and Space. She is the winner of the 2023 American Association of Geographers Harold M. Rose Award for Antiracist Research and Practice and the 2022 American University Morton-Bender Prize for outstanding achievement at the associate professor level.