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Malini Ranganathan Assistant Professor School of International Service

Send email to Malini Ranganathan
(202) 885-6901 (Office)
SIS-School of Intl Service
SIS - 301
Additional Positions at AU
Faculty Fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Center, School of Public Affairs
Co-Organizer, Urban Studies Working Group, Humanities Lab

PhD, University of California, Berkeley

MS, University of California, Berkeley

BA, Bard College, NY

Languages Spoken
French (fluent)
Favorite Spot on Campus
My sunny office, SIS 301, and the Woods-Brown Amphitheater @ AU!

Dr Ranganathan is a critical geographer and political ecologist with an interest in urban environmental justice in both the South and North. Her research focuses on water, flooding, and land in the city of Bangalore/Bengaluru in India. Specifically, she uses ethnographic and archival research to show how historical housing inequalities, widespread informality, and new patterns of development aid and global investment have provided the context for citizen mobilizations around infrastructure, ecology, and space. Recently, she was awarded a 2017-2019 American Council of Learned Societies-Andrew W. Mellon Foundation humanities grant to co-write a book, tentatively titled Corruption Plots, Imagined Publics: The Ethics of Space in the Millennial City, on the stories and imaginaries exposing real estate “corruption”, land grabs, and widening social and environmental inequality in global cities. Dr Ranganathan also investigates urban inequality in America. To that end, she is researching racism in the built environment and the prospects for climate justice in Washington, DC, and has written on US urban and environmental history through an intesectional feminist, decolonial, and anti-racist lens. In her research and teaching, she draws on urban, postcolonial/decolonial, assemblage, and critical race theory.

Her research is published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 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 writing also appears on academic blogs such as Society and Space and Black Perspectives, and in numerous edited books. 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 (Urban Political Ecology).

See Also
Dr Ranganathan's academic website
Dr Ranganathan's Google Scholar profile
Follow Dr Ranganathan on Twitter
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Partnerships & Affiliations

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications


Professional Presentations

Recent Invited Talks

  • 2018. "Decolonial Ecologies: Climate Justice in the Anthropocene". Invited to speak at Mellon-Sawyer Seminar on the Anthropocene, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.
  • 2017. "Racial Liberalism and the Coloniality of Urban Ecologies". Invited to speak at the Ecologies of Social Difference/Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice Institute's "Noted Scholar Series", University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
  • 2017. "Qualitative GIS for Critical Urban Geography". Invited to speak at the Conference for High-Impact Research, American University.
  • 2017. "Thinking with Flint: Structural Racism in Planning, Pipes, and Politics". Invited to speak at Boston University.
  • 2016. "Water, Property, and the Politics of Urban Belonging". Invited to speak at Earth Day Symposium on Water and Class Struggle, State University of New York, Purchase College.
  • 2016. "Race, Class, and the Legacies of Colonial Urban ‘Improvement’". Invited to speak at Symposium on Critical Approaches to Race, Class, and Gender, American University.
  • 2015. "The Performativity of Urban Anti-Corruption Politics". Invited to speak at Rupturing the Anthro-obscene! The Political Promises of Planetary Urban Ecologies workshop, KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Sweden.
  • 2015. "Registering Agency". Invited to speak at Urban Beyond Measure: Registering Urban Environments in the Global South, Stanford University. For a summary of the conference by researchers at Yale University see here.
  • 2014. “Drains of Labor: Filth, Commodification, and Risk in Bangalore’s Wetland Assemblage”. Invited to speak at Infrastructures of Labor panel, New York University.
  • 2014. “Emancipatory Urban Politics Through the Everyday Sate: Improvisations and Translations at the Frontlines”. Invited to speak at Radical Incrementalism: Theories/Practices of Emancipatory Change, African Center for Cities, University of Cape Town.
  • 2014. “Stormwater Drains, (Wet)land Grabs, and the Assembling of Flood Risk in Bangalore”. Invited to speak at the School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute for Social Sciences, Mumbai.
  • 2014. “Beyond the ‘Slum’: Urban Informality as the New Normal in Millennial Capitalism“. Invited to speak at Cities at the Center of the World conference, George Mason University and Woodrow Wilson Center.

 Recent Conference Presentations and Panels

  • 2017. An Authors Meets Critics Panel for Ananya Roy et al.'s "Encountering Poverty: Thinking and Acting in an Unequal World" (UC Press, 2016), American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, April 7.
  • 2017. An Authors Meets Critics Panel for Nikhil Anand's "Hydraulic City" (Duke U Press, 2017) and Austin Zeiderman's "Endangered City" (Duke U Press, 2016), American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, April 5.
  • 2016. "Radical Crosscurrents: EJ, Political Ecology, and Traveling Theory", American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, April 1.
  • 2015. "Contesting Wetland Grabs: The Politics of 'Elite' Informality and Anti-Corruption Discourse in Bangalore" at the Madison Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 22-23.
  • 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. “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.

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.

Professional Services

  • Peer reviewer for Geoforum, Antipode, Environment and Planning: A, & Urban Geography
  • 2016-present. Editorial Board Member, Annals of the American Association of Geographers (People, Place, & Region section)
  • 2015-present. Editorial Board Member, Geography Compass (Urban Section).
  • 2015-2017. Board Member, Urban Geography Specialty Group (UGSG), American Association of Geographers (AAG)
  • 2015-2017. At-Large Councilor, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group (CAPE), American Association of Geographers (AAG)

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • 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 Sapana Doshi and David 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 Eve Bratman).
  • 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".

Media Appearances

Research Interests

Political economy of development, urban inequality and environmental justice, postcolonial theory, critical race theory, feminist theory, the black radical tradition, discourse analysis, ethnography, history