Dr Niranjana Ramesh, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, has recently given a UPD seminar talk entitled ‘Vernacular natures: Ecological politics along the urban shoreline’, showcasing her on-going work in Chennai as part of her postdoctoral project. The abstract of her talk can be found below:

Environmental politics in India today is frequently slotted within a spectrum ranging from ‘new traditionalism’ to ‘bourgeois environmentalism’; the former a romanticisation of pre-colonial or rural harmony between nature and society, and the latter an impulse to rid cities of what may be considered dirty or polluting from a middle class aesthetic of urban nature. It is in this context that this paper situates its account of an emerging vernacular politics of nature in the city of Chennai on the south eastern coast of India. It is vernacular because it isn’t attached to a particular grammar of ecological thought but is rooted within an experience of local socio-natures and its spatialisation of alterity. The paper illustrates how the city’s contested geographies of water have been important to mobilising this ecological politics and calls for attention to the social life of urban natures beyond processes of urbanisation and environmental degradation. 

Niranjana Ramesh

You can also read Dr Ramesh’s recent blog on caste in Chennai here.