Maya Ratnam joined the Social Sciences division of the School of Arts and Sciences as Assistant Professor in 2019. Her training is in Social Anthropology, and her academic areas of focus are the environmental history and anthropology of India, with particular reference to indigenous and resource-dependent communities.
Professor Ratnam’s dissertation, titled Dwelling in the Forest: Nature, Power, and Society in Tribal Central India are presently being revised for publication. The dissertation explored the poetics and politics of everyday living in a ‘tribal’ or ‘Adivasi’ landscape in eastern Madhya Pradesh, in the context of the enactment of the Forest Rights Act. Her continuing and expanding areas of interest include human-non human relationships, ecological futures in an era of climate change, and the relationship between politics and aesthetics. Professor Ratnam specialises in ethnographic and field-based research methods, bringing her understanding of the lived experience of communities to bear on wider conversations about environmental justice, state power and development.
A graduate of Delhi University, Professor Ratnam received her PhD in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University in the US in 2017. Her doctoral research was funded by prestigious grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the American Institute of Indian Studies. She has previously held teaching positions at Ashoka University and the Delhi School of Economics and has taught both undergraduate and postgraduate students.