Presidential Professor of Anthropology; Associate Faculty Director, Center for the Advanced Study of India School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

Nikhil Anand is an environmental anthropologist whose research focuses on cities, infrastructure, state power and climate change. He addresses these questions by studying the political ecology of cities, read through the different lives of water.  His award-winning first book, Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Politics in Mumbai (Duke University Press 2017), examines the everyday ways in which cities and citizens are made through the everyday management of water infrastructure. His new book project, Urban Seas, is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Penn Global Inquiries Fellowship. Based on field research with fishers, scientists and planners as they work in the sea, the book decenters the colonial grounds of urban planning by drawing attention to the ways in which climate-changed seas are remaking coastal cities today.

Nikhil’s ongoing research draws together urbanization, design and the environment, and participates in three collaborative research initiatives. Rising Waters (2018-2021, with Bethany Wiggin, co-PI), explores how climate change and urban redevelopment recapitulated classed and raced vulnerabilities of marginalized residents in Philadelphia and Mumbai.  Inhabited Sea (2019-2022, with Anuradha Mathur, Co-PI) is a transdisciplinary research collaboration with architects, artists, citizen-scientists, oceanographers, social scientists, and urban planners working in Mumbai. The project attends to the ways in which built forms and more-than-human life inhabit wet terrain. Stories of Climate Action (2022-2024, with Lalitha Kamath, TISS and Rohit Mujumdar, School of Environment and Architecture), intervenes in ongoing projects of urban climate planning in Mumbai, by drawing on and thinking with the stories and climate expertise of indigenous residents that have navigated the terrain of the city since before it was a city.