Public: Decolonizing Infrastructure in India and the US: A Conversation with Malini Ranganathan

Recently, many scholars in the humanistic social sciences have begun to focus on the more-than-human agency of nonhuman natures, things, objects, and materials. Within this posthuman turn, objects are not simply inert backdrops for the ordering of social life but are actively involved in creating new sociopolitical orders. Infrastructure has emerged as a useful analytical tool to critique unequal power relations between people, economic systems, and the state, and to challenge conventional frameworks of urban-rural, North-South, and human-nonhuman. Moreover, thinking about infrastructure can add a much needed postcolonial and decolonial impetus to academic scholarship.

An assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University, Dr. Malini Ranganathan takes a critical look at questions of social and environmental justice through an intersectional and antiracist lens. Malini uses urban water infrastructure as a lens to study processes of neoliberal marketization, speculative urbanism, informality, and the (re)production of caste, class, and gendered othering in Bangalore, southern India. Her recent work has also focused on the issue of urban resilience and abolitionist climate justice in Washington, DC.

On March 15, 2019, I sat down with Malini on the occasion of her visit to the University of Wisconsin–Madison Geography Department to give the 2019 Treacy Lecture. We discuss decolonization as theory and practice, analytical frameworks for our current ecological crisis, her research in urban India and Washington, DC, and the potential for North-South collaborations and solidarity movements within academia and beyond.

To read/listen more, please visit

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