The potential for and politics of urban sustainability transitions
My academic, intellectual and advocacy interests lie in the domain of sustainability transitions. I define these as the policy transformations and changed social practices required to achieve the political, social, economic, and value systems that can provision both social justice and ecosystem health.
As an activist-scholar with interdisciplinary training and expertise in environmental politics, consumption studies, urban geography, and cultural sociology, I tackle this research agenda by studying the cultural and environmental politics of public policies and community initiatives that seek to 'green' urban environments, particularly in the mega-cities of emerging economies. Much of my research to date has been located in the city of Bangalore, India, where I conducted a community-engaged ethnographic study of bicycling and zero-waste movements.
I try to produce community-engaged scholarship that contributes towards a systemic transition to a more sustainable and just world for more people. As part of my ethnographic research in Bangalore, I worked with Hasirudala, a waste picker cooperative, and a number of neighborhood associations. While in the field, I cultivated enduring relationships with these communities and continue to collaborate with them on grant-writing, media, and outreach.
On Lifestyle Leapfrogging in Emerging economies
In this paper my co-author Patrick Schroeder of IDS and I develop Causal Loop Diagrams, a systems-thinking tool, to understand how market, policy and behavioral interventions can be combined to help urban consumers in India and China shift to more sustainable consumption practices from the out-set. We hope that this paper can highlight the importance of systems thinking and planning in sustainability, especially when combined with a focus on embedded power relations.
Schroeder, P. and Anantharaman, M. (2016) "Lifestyle leapfrogging" in emerging economies: Enabling systemic shifts to sustainable consumption. Journal of Consumer Policy. Online First. http://doi:10.1007/s10603-016-9339-3
On the cultural politics of sustainable consumption in Bangalore, India
These papers have emerged out of my dissertation research studying the cultural and environmental politics of middle class environmental movements in Bangalore, India. I am particularly interested in the Relational Politics of sustainability in urban India, and both these pieces interrogate the cross-class interactions and relations mediated in hitherto understudied places like bicycle lanes and recycling centers.