Welcome to my website and thanks for visiting! I am an associate professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC, where I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on global urban politics and environmental justice through the lenses of Marxian geography, anticaste theory, and decolonial and critical race theory. I am also a faculty affiliate of AU’s Metropolitan Policy Center in the School of Public Affairs, the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies, and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center.
Most broadly, I am a scholar of urban social and environmental justice. I am interested in the political economy of land, infrastructure, and labor. As a critical urban geographer and political ecologist trained in qualitative and spatial methodology, I am motivated by three central questions: (1) What are the root causes of urban spatial and environmental injustices? (2) How do dominant/oppressor groups reproduce and defend privileges based on caste, race, and class? (3) How and why do marginalized groups contest spatial, ecological, and labor injustices and to what ends? Empirically, I study urban political-ecological struggles in India (largely Bengaluru) and the U.S. (largely Washington, DC). In the U.S., I have been conducting research in Washington, DC’s Ward 7 on climate injustice, housing segregation, and deep histories of environmental toxicity. My recent work has called for an abolitionist approach to climate justice. This work was featured on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5 on NPR in September 2019. For a summary of how I approach environmental justice theoretically, please see my essay “The Environment as Freedom: A Decolonial Reimagining.” To learn more about my research ethics and positionality, please click on the “Research” tab.
I am currently working on three book projects. The first is a collaborative book with Isaac Arul Selva and Siddharth K.J, both scholar-activists in Bengaluru, Casteing the City: Land, Labor, and Social Justice in Bengaluru. The book traces histories of caste in the city, and studies how the interlocking of caste and class power reproduces exclusionary and extractive property and labor regimes. In it, we consider the potential for legal, union, and anticaste activism to disrupt injustices perpetuated by economic and caste power. For a recent article published in Ethnic and Racial Studies as part of a special issue titled Rethinking Difference in India Through Racialization, please click here.
The second book, nearing completion, is also a collaborative project: Corruption Plots: Stories, Ethics, and Publics of the Late Capitalist City. Coauthored with David Pike and Sapana Doshi and weaving together literary criticism and critical geography, the book is an outcome of an American Council of Learned Societies grant (2017-19). It is forthcoming with Cornell University Press’ Land series.
Finally, I am working on a theoretically oriented monograph tentatively titled The Environment as Freedom: Rehumanizing Urban Political Ecologies Across Race and Caste. The book underscores how racial and caste oppression work fundamentally by dehumanizing certain forms of political-ecological labor necessary for capitalist transformation and survival. It brings anticaste and antracist frameworks on humanism and freedom to bear on political ecology. View the 2022 Dimensions of Political Ecology Keynote lecture I gave on this book project in progress titled “Political Ecologies of Caste and Racial Capitalism: Remapping a Planetary Humanism.”
Prior to coming to American University, I was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy initiative at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, based out of the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science. I received a Master’s and PhD from the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies.
Please browse my research and publications to learn more.
***Credit for the banner art on my home page goes to the incredible feminist artist, Vidushi Yadav.***