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Malini Ranganathan Associate Professor School of International Service

Send email to Malini Ranganathan
SIS - School of International Service
SIS - 301
Office hours in Spring 2021: 230-430pm on Wed and 1-2pm on Thurs. Sign up on Calendly here.
Additional Positions at AU
Interim Faculty Director, Antiracist Research and Policy Center
Faculty Fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Center, School of Public Affairs

PhD, University of California, Berkeley

MS, University of California, Berkeley

BA, Bard College, NY


Dr Ranganathan serves as the Interim Faculty Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center and is an associate professor at American University. An urban geographer by training, her scholarship focuses on critical approaches to, and contrapuntal readings of, environmental justice in India and the U.S. She draws on history, ethnography, and critical mapping to study water and sanitation, land and housing, and flooding and climate change vulnerability. She is especially interested in the relationship between histories of racialized and casteized segregation and property law, and contemporary environmental injustices. She is currently working on a book project, Outcaste City, focused on the making of property, ecology, and subaltern "others" in colonial and contemporary Bengaluru/Bangalore, India. In it she argues for an environmental ethics centered on anticaste humanism. She is also a recipient of an American Council of Learned Societies-Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant for a collaborative book project that weaves together literary criticism and critical geography, Corruption Plots: Stories, Ethics, and Publics of the Late Capitalist City. Finally, Dr Ranganathan investigates environmental racism in America and has studied and spoken on NPR on climate justice in Washington, DC. For an overview of her transnational approach to research and teaching, stream this podcast. In her research and pedagogy more generally, she draws on Marxist geography, critical race theory, postcolonial and decolonial theory, anticaste traditions, and feminist theory, among other strands. Dr Ranganathan was recognized with the "SIS Scholar Teacher of the Year" award in 2018 and the "SIS Outstanding Contribution to Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" award in 2020.

Her research is published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Progress in Human Geography, Environment and Planning: A (Economy and Society), Journal of Planning Education and Research, Capitalism Nature Socialism, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Geography, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, and Water Alternatives among other journals. Her scholarship also appears in public venues such as e-Flux Architecture, The North Star, Society and Space, and Black Perspectives. She serves on the editorial boards of 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).


Fall 2020

  • SIS-899 Doctoral Dissertation

  • SISU-349 Topics Glb Ineq,Dev,Env,Hlth: Global Cities, Justice & Envir

Spring 2021

  • SIS-620 Stds in Global Envirn Politics: Environmental Justice

  • SIS-899 Doctoral Dissertation

Partnerships & Affiliations

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

Selected Recent Publications Only

Professional Presentations

INVITED TALKS (only recent)

  • 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. "Racial Liberalism and Environmental Racism in Flint, MI". Invited to speak at the University of Michigan RacismLab.
  • 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.
  • 2018. "Unauthorized Urbanism: Empire and Property in the Ecological Present". Invited to speak at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


  • 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.
  • 2019. "Organizing in Chocolate City: Race, Planning, and Social Justice in Washington, DC", Panelist, American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, April 7.
  • 2019. "Methodologies for Studying Racial Capitalism", Panelist, American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington, DC April 7.
  • 2019. "Author Meets Comrades: Rosalind Fredericks' Garbage Citizenship", Panelist American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, April 6
  • 2019. Discussant, Urban Geography keynote lecture (given by Deborah Cowen), April 5.
  • 2019. "Racial Regimes of Property I, II, III, and IV" (Organizer with Anne Bonds and Introducer), American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, April 4.


Professional Services

Grants and Sponsored Research

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • 2020. Recipient, SIS Outstanding Contributions to Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  Award
  • 2018. Co-recipient, SIS Scholar-Teacher of the Year Award
  • 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.

Research Interests

Environmental justice, political ecology, antiracism, development, postcolonial and decolonial theory, anticaste theory, critical race theory, feminist theory, the Black radical tradition, discourse analysis, ethnography, critical mapping and GIS.

AU Experts

Area of Expertise

Environmental racism in the U.S., antiracism, climate justice, environmental justice, segregation, environmental politics in India

Additional Information

Malini Ranganathan is an urban geographer and a scholar of environmental racism, environmental justice, and climate justice. Her research focuses on how the history of segregation and property law shapes environmental inequalities related to water, housing, and climate change vulnerability in India and the U.S. She is the author of several academic journal articles and she is currently working on two books related to urban inequality, environmental justice and real estate politics. Her work appears in media and scholarly outlets such as WAMU, Vox, Black Perspectives, and Society and Space.

For the Media

To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

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