Chandana Anusha

2021-2022 Princeton Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow

Princeton Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow

Chandana Anusha’s fellowship was made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India, and the Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies.

Anusha is a scholar of social and environmental dynamics in India, with a special interest in coastal regions. Her research focuses on how ecological and infrastructural processes intersect in an era defined by climate change and global trade.

Her dissertation, “The Living Coast: Port Development and Ecological Transformations in the Gulf of Kutch, Western India,” analyzes the region surrounding one of India's largest ports. Since 1991, a web of farmers, fishworkers, graziers, seafarers, as well as mangroves, goats, and other species, have coexisted and contended with port-led efforts to reengineer the coast into a global hub of trade through no-go zones, extractions, reclamations, and highways. Through ethnographic and archival research, Anusha reconceptualizes this coast from a narrow strip of land and water into a meshwork of freshwater, seawater, sediment, organisms, and emotion. Calling this diverse and dynamic ecology a “Living Coast,” she explores how people both take up new opportunities and strive to live meaningful lives with others as they adapt to intensified infrastructural activity.

To carry out this research, Anusha utilized participant observation, attendance at public meetings, oral histories, visual analysis, and the study of archival documents in private collections and government offices. She examined land-water use across rural and urban landscapes, as well as forestlands, private farms, and riverbeds along the coastal belt. Challenging accounts of both inexorable progress and apocalyptic decline, her research shows the diverse opportunities and threats produced by ecological shocks.

Anusha completed her Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology at Yale University in June 2021. In Spring 2022, she taught, “Coastal Worlds: Ecologies, Societies, and Infrastructures,” a course on coastal urbanisms framed through an environmental humanities perspective.