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Niranjana Ramesh PhD

Niranjana Ramesh PhD

Research Associate working with Prof Matthew Gandy

Having reported widely on urban governance, politics and culture in south Indian cities for over four years, I applied to study cities at University College London, where I was awarded a scholarship by the Institute for Sustainable Resources to conduct PhD research on urban water infrastructures. I am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the ERC-funded project Rethinking Urban Nature.



  • 2015 Visiting Assistant in Research, Macmillan Centre South Asian Studies Council, Yale University
  • 2012 Editor, The Hindu City & Neighbourhood, Bengaluru
  • 2008-12 Reporter/Staff Writer, Various Publications (The Economic Times, Mint, Down to Earth)


  • 2018 PhD in Geography, University College London
  • 2013 MSc Urban Studies, University College London
  • 2008 PG Diploma in Journalism, Asian College of Journalism, Chennai
  • 2007 Bachelor of Technology, National Institute of Technology Calicut


My research in urban geography originates from the city of Chennai on the south eastern coast of India, where I have done extensive ethnographic research. Drawing on this experience as well as a wide range of textual and multimedia sources, my research explores the entanglement of technology, politics and nature in cities. My PhD thesis used the notion of urban infrastructures as a set of materials and practices mediating socio-natural relations, to excavate the contingent ways in which multiple urban imaginations, techno-environmental knowledges and political claims come together in an arc of urbanisation. It framed the Chennai case comparatively against similar developments in water infrastructure building in London, attending to practices of worlding and relationality of technical expertise in urban development. Methodologically, the thesis adapted its ethnography of infrastructure to the possibilities and limitations of conducting research in the two cities, reflecting on how cities shaped the kind of knowledges produced on them.

For my postdoctoral project, I aim to delve further into the question of urban nature, partly drawing on the infrastructure framework to explore the work of constituting it materially and as an imaginary, while also using media methods to engage with more-than-human geographies further.


Conference papers and guest talks

  • Infrastructural Urbanism: assembling the techno-political city, Monsoon Assemblages Lecture Series, University of Westminster, 2016
  • Desalination as infrastructural space: urban spatialisation of an amorphous techno-political state, Workshop on ‘Water, Technology and the Nation State’, University of Manchester, 2016
  • Sustainable infrastructure and fluid states: a nexus produced in friction, Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) Annual Conference 2016
  • Infrastructural Articulations of the Technopolitical State, Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference 2016
  • Seawater & techno-urbanism: how a state re-invents itself, British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS) Annual Conference 2016
  • Chennai’s experiments with the sea & the politics of water infrastructure, South Asia Brown Bag, Macmillan Center for International & Area Studies, Yale University, 2015
  • Local Waterscapes & Global Technologies: Micropolitics of Sustainability in Chennai, Working Paper Series, South Asia Institute, School of Oriental & African Studies, 2015
  • Churning the Ocean, Sustainably, Workshop on 'Epistemologies of Water in Asia', Cluster of Excellence - Asia & Europe in a Global Context, University of Heidelberg, 2014
  • A tank half full: Water in the socio-ecological imagination of Chennai, White Rose Hydropolitics Network, University of York, 2013


  • 2015-16, UCL Geography: Urban Geography, London: a Geographical Introduction (TA)
  • 2016-17, UCL Geography: Asian Cities (TA)
  • 2016-17, UCL BASc (Bachelor of Arts & Science): Approaches to Knowledge: Introduction to Interdisciplinarity (TA)
  • 2016-18, UCL Writing Lab Tutor

External activities

  • Steering committee member in Stadtkolloquium, a postgraduate forum of urban researchers based in London
  • Student Representative at UCL Urban Lab till September 2015
  • Committee Member and Book Reviews Editor for the Urban Geography Research Group (UGRG) of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS)