- Additional Positions at AU
- Faculty Advisor and 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
- PhD, University of California, Berkeley
A critical geographer by training, Dr. Ranganathan researches environmental casteism and environmental racism in urban contexts, what she refers to as "environmental unfreedoms." Specifically, she studies the effects of caste supremacy and racialization on segregated housing, water and sanitation access, and flood and climate change vulnerability. She works on both India and the U.S. She is currently working on a collaborative book project with activists based in Bengaluru/Bangalore, India, Anticaste Urban Ecologies: Land, Labor, and Environmental Justice in Bengaluru. The book studies how the interlocking of brahminism, corporate power, and Hindutva neoliberalism reproduce caste-based segregation and environmental unfreedoms. In it, they consider the potential for legal and anticaste activism to disrupt injustices perpetuated by caste and capitalist power. She is also a recipient of an American Council of Learned Societies-Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant for a collaborative book forthcoming with Cornell University Press's Land Series, Corruption Plots: Stories, Ethics, and Publics of the Late Capitalist City. The book weaves together literary analysis and critical geography to argue that rather than being a fixed set of practices relating to graft and bribery, "corruption" is a slippery narrative used by different caste, class, and racial groups to call attention to the ethics of rapid urban change under late capitalism. While typically used by the middle classes to denigrate poorer groups and political leaders, "corruption talk" is also used by slum residents and activists to name systemic inequality, "land grabs," and nefarious collusions between the state and private spheres, regardless of their legality.
Finally, Dr. Ranganathan investigates environmental racism, climate justice, and the imperatives of abolition and an ethics of care in American cities. Her collaborative work on abolitionist climate justice in Washington, DC was featured on NPR. Most recently, she is part of a team that was awarded a $15 million National Science Foundation grant for RECIPES, a new project that promotes racially equitable urban and regional food systems, and investigates the causes of food surplus and waste in the U.S. Dr. Ranganathan previously directed AU's Antiracist Research and Policy Center and stays on as a faculty advisor for the Center, leading initiatives related to environmental and racial equity. For an overview of her transnational approach to research and teaching, stream this podcast. 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. In 2021, she won the American University "Faculty Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion." Please visit her website to learn more about her research ethics, methodology, and positionality.
Her research is published in 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
- March 2021 "Environmental and Racial Justice: Deepening Intersections at a Historic Moment" Lecture at Mount Mary University
- Jan 2021 "Abolitionist and Emancipatory Futures: Anti-Racist Struggles and Climate Justice" Event at UCLA
- Nov 2020 "Confronting Caste I: Caste and the City", King's College London
- May 2020: "Anti-Caste Ecological Politics" Dialogics Panel Hosted by Suraj Yengde
- For the Media
- To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
SIS-899 Doctoral Dissertation
SIS-899 Doctoral Dissertation
Metropolitan Policy Center
Antiracist Research and Policy Center
Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies
Selected Recent Publications Only
- 2022 (Forthcoming). "Rethinking Difference as Racialization in India: An Introduction," Ethnic and Racial Studies, part of the special issue "Racialization in India" (with M Gergan, J Chairez-Garza, and P Vasudevan).
- 2022 (Forthcoming). "Racial Regimes of Property: An Introduction," Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (with A Bonds).
- 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. "Caste, Racialization, and the Making of Environmental Unfreedoms in Urban India", Ethnic and Racial Studies, part of the special issue "Racialization in India," republished online with citational corrections on August 22, 2021.
- 2021. "Decolonizing the Green City: From Environmental Privilege to Emancipatory Green Justice", Environmental Justice (with I Anguelovski, A Brand, and D Hyra), published online June 3, 2021.
- 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 Eve Bratman). Antipode 53 (1): 115-137.
- 2021 (Forthcoming). "Towards a Political Ecology of Caste and the City," Journal of Urban Technology, part of the special issue on "Splintering Urbanism +20."
- Under review. "Confronting Bengaluru’s Eco-Casteism and Climate Apartheid ", Commentary as part of "Urban Climates in South Asia" International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.
- 2020. "Empire’s Infrastructures: Racial Finance Capitalism and Liberal Necropolitics", Urban Geography 41 (4): 492-496.
- 2019. "On 'The City in the Age of Trumpism': A Conversation between Ananya Roy, Naomi Paik and Malini Ranganathan", Society and Space, the blog for the journal Environment and Planning: D.
- 2019. "Property, Pipes, and Improvement", e-flux Architecture, Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University, July 16.
- 2019. "A Legacy of Abolition and Love in the Work of a Washington, DC Organizer", The North Star, June 2.
- 2019. "Towards a Critical Geography of Corruption and Power in Late Capitalism" (with Sapana 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 Sapana 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 Sapana 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 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.
CONFERENCE PAPERS AND PANELS (only recent)
- 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.
- 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.
- 2017. "The Past, Present, and Future of Antiracist Struggle" in Teach, Organize, Resist. Institute for Inequality and Democracy.
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 Sauleh Siddiqui)
- 2018-2019. Antipode Foundation International Workshop Award for "Rethinking Difference in India: Racialization in Transnational Perspective" (with Jesús F. Cháirez-Garza, Mabel Gergan, and Pavithra 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 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).
Ambedkarism, Periyarism, anticaste theory, environmental justice, political ecology, critical development studies, decolonial theory, critical race theory, feminist theory, the Black radical tradition, discourse analysis, ethnography, critical mapping and GIS.
Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
- 2021. Recipient, American University Faculty Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- 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.
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 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.