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Malini Ranganathan Assoc Professor SIS - Env Dev Health

Malini Ranganathan
SIS - School of International Service
SIS - 301
Please email for office hours appointments.
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).


Spring 2023

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

  • SIS-899 Doctoral Dissertation

  • SISU-250 Env Sustainblty/Global Health

Fall 2023

  • SIS-899 Doctoral Dissertation

Partnerships & Affiliations

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications


Selected Journal Publications

Professional Presentations

INVITED KEYNOTES (only recent)



Professional Services

Grants and Sponsored Research

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

Research Interests

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.

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 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.

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