Priya Sangameswaran

Associate Professor in Development Studies
Ph.D. (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
R–1, Baishnabghata Patuli Township, Kolkata – 700 094, India

Tel : +91 (0)33 2462 7252 / 5794 / 5795 / 2436 8313 / 7794 / 95 / 97
Room Extn. : 309   Fax : +91 (0)33 2462 6183
Email : priya@cssscal.org

With an academic training in different schools of economics, Priya now works at the intersection of development studies and environment studies, drawing on debates from heterodox economics, political ecology, post-development theory, and critical geography,. A large part of her research to date has focused on the (re)distributive potential of water and the link between discourses of water and of development. This started with her PhD dissertation, where she studied the question of equity in community-based water projects in Western Maharashtra. The relation between three different kinds of equity – equity in content, in processes, and in outcomes – was discussed along with a critical analysis of the concept of ‘community’ at work in these projects. The dissertation research was followed by a review of the concept of ‘right to water’ as well as a short, joint study of a water privatization project in Karnataka. The last major research project on water that Priya completed (and which resulted in the book Neoliberalism and Water) focused on understanding different processes involved in the ‘reforms’ in the water sector and how they link to larger debates about neoliberalization, rights, commodification of natural resources, and democratization. In addition, she has also recently undertaken a short study of different legal regimes at work in international investment arbitration (particularly in the domain of water); here the focus is on the tension between the values underlying different legal regimes and how this results in the privileging of contract law as against human rights.

Priya’s current research combines a long-standing interest in the political economy of land with a relatively newer interest in urban studies. She is studying how changes in land use and economic activities are related to transformations in the space of the city and to discourses of urban development. This is done by focusing on a contemporary history of selected industrial areas in Thane city (in the state of Maharashtra). A side-project that has emerged in the course of this work is the study of the historical development (from the 19th century onwards) of cities such as Thane which have usually been thought of in relation to larger metropolises such as Bombay/Mumbai. Priya also has another broad area of interest in urban studies – ideas of nature in cities and how these are connected to discourses of urbanization and development.

Apart from her research work, Priya teaches in the MPhil programme at CSSSC and has taught courses/modules related to development, land, nature, cities, and ethnography. Some of the courses (co-)taught in the past include Debating Development: Perspectives and Practice, The Land Question in Development, Envisioning the City, Vocabulary of the Social Sciences, and Research Methods in Social Sciences. In addition, Priya also supervises MPhil and PhD students.