My areas of interdisciplinary research fall into three broad interlinked themes:
I am a broadly trained interdisciplinary scholar with research interests that generally fall under scholarships in nature-society relationships, political ecology, post-colonial development, urban studies, citizenship studies, feminist theories, water governance, climate change, natural hazards, human rights, and social justice.
My research projects are critical, interdisciplinary, and intersectional, where I investigate complex multi-scalar, multi-process issues, combining my insights and background in the natural and social sciences as well as in the policy world. In exploring the socio-ecological dynamics of international discourses and policies, I am particularly focused on how these are articulated, negotiated, and lived in everyday lives on the ground. My research thus sits at the confluence of a range of theoretical and epistemological framings, with the goal to inform and encourage social justice across a range of scales. I have written extensively on these issues for a variety of interdisciplinary audiences inside and outside of academia. I am keenly interested in research that pushes the boundaries of existing scholarship, in order to enrich conceptualizations and theorizations in Geography and beyond.
I work to decolonize the academy and pedagogy, introduce non-Eurocentric scholarship in Anglo academia, and thereby transform academic scholarship and knowledge production. I collaborate with policymakers, practitioners, civil society, community groups, and scholars from around the world in research and dissemination. I am the recipient of the 2019 Glenda Laws Award from the American Association of Geographers for “outstanding contributions to geographic research on social issues.” My award-winning research has been funded by a variety of international sources, such as: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Department for International Development (DFID) UK, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), International Water Management Institute, International Development Research Center (IDRC) Canada, Government of Sweden, Syracuse University, Princeton University, University of Minnesota, King’s College London, Minnesota Human Rights Center, Association of American Geographers, and the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation.
In general terms, I have had long been interested in issues of the political ecologies of development and social justice as conceptualized and enacted by variously-situated actors, and the ways by which such conceptualizations interact with local understandings of issues such as ‘environmental management’, ‘resource governance’, ‘climate justice’, ‘development’, ‘social justice’ and ‘citizenship’. In this respect, I am interested in environmental governance and the politics of knowledge production, whereby discursive and material realities co-produce and challenge policies, projects, practices, and realities on the ground. I explore the complex ways that processes of development and globalization come to impact poverty, well-being, and socio-ecological change across sites and scales intersectionally, and what this means to broader issues of development, democracy, citizenship, and social justice. With interests and experiences in the developing world, especially South Asia, I investigate issues critically, paying particular attention to the complexities of both contemporary social transformations as well as historical dispossessions.
My research engages with and makes contributions to different bodies of interdisciplinary scholarship and is grounded in critical, feminist, and anti-colonial epistemologies and methodologies. Methodologically, I engage with both a range of methods, with a particular interest in issues of feminist fieldwork, positionality, power relations, decolonizing academia, and research ethics.
Politics of climate change adaptation and scalar climate justice
My second research interest engages with climate change, socio-ecological impacts, and social justice. This research focuses on the coastal areas of South Asia and the US, and explores the ways that climate change adaptation politics play out in the context of uneven development, intersectional gender/class/race inequalities, and social practices in places with long histories of floods, sea-level rise, and tropical cyclones/hurricanes. Water thus continues to be an important factor in this research, as cross-scalar climate justice is imbricated in water-society relationships.
My research underscores how climate change adaptation is differently understood, implemented, challenged, and circumvented, and the various ways it affects different groups of people, especially in frontline and marginalized communities, but in entirely intersectional ways across scales. Such efforts bring power relations, which occur intersectionally across gender, race, class, and other contextual social axes of difference, to the conversations more carefully and meaningfully as they are often ignored or tokenized in national and international discourses. Thereby, the dynamics of vulnerabilities, resilience, and livelihood strategies to deal with climate change are better comprehended and cross-scalar climate justice is further clarified.
I have been a Visiting Fellow at the International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University of Bangladesh since 2017 for my field research and collaborations. My research on climate adaptation won the 2015 faculty Moynihan Challenge grant from the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, for the project “Building Community Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change across Sites, Groups and Scales“. I am also the lead PI in the successful Maxwell 10th Decade Project entitled ‘Citizenship and Climate Change‘, which investigates the complex ways notions and practices of citizenship are imbricated in climate change impacts. This research project attempts to understand the relationship between climate change and citizenship practices in a comparative way across developing and developed/industrialized countries.
Decolonizing institutions and systems
As a public intellectual, I am also interested in issues related to academic freedom in higher education, preserving academic integrity and scholarly rigor, as well as addressing issues of marginalization and discrimination in the academy and beyond. Stemming from my long-standing interests in post-colonial and decolonial studies, critical development studies, and transnational feminism, I work on decolonization and transformation of inequitable power structures, epistemologies, and politics. My focus decolonizing institutions, processes, and academia more broadly are particularly timely given the rise of white supremacy, colonial nostalgia, and anti-intellectualism globally. The theorizations and interventions draw from commitments to fostering inclusive and just academic futures and to advance decolonial justice in both theory and practice, and embed equity practices within institutions and systems. Given the increasing polarization and neoliberalization of the worlds that we inhabit and what is at stake, attention to these issues are critical.
Beyond academic research, I participate in numerous pro-bono activities and endeavors with various organizations and networks, building community and solidarity both locally and across the globe. I am involved in several professional and academic bodies, such as the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the Institute of British Geographer with the Royal Geographical Society (RGS/IBG), the Gender and Water Alliance (GWA), Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), Gender and Disasters Network (GDN), etc. I am a founding member of the Participatory Geographies Research Group (PyGyRG) of the RGS/IBG, and past Chair of the Development Geographies Specialty Group (DGSG) of the AAG. Given my interdisciplinary interests and expertise, I regularly carry out reviews of grant proposals, research proposals, peer-reviewing of academic and policy papers, and participate in a wide array of activities with academics, activists, policy-makers and practitioners across the globe. I frequently delivers invited lectures and keynote addresses across disciplines at universities and institutions. My vision is to integrate teaching, research and service/outreach in meaningful and impactful ways for transformational changes.
Details of my various engagements and contributions to and beyond academia are via publications, lectures and speeches, conferences and workshops, media and public engagements, service and outreach, teaching and advising.
See also my curriculum vitae.