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Dr Megnaa Mehtta
Wilkins Building South Wing
Gower Street
Dr Megnaa Mehtta profile picture
  • Lecturer (Teaching) in Social Anthropology
  • Inst for Risk & Disaster Reduction
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Megnaa Mehtta is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Social Anthropology at the Institute of Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR) at UCL. She received her PhD in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2020 which is also where she did her MSc. in Social Anthropology in 2014. Mehtta received a B.A in Anthropology from Yale University in 2010 and has studied at Delhi University and the University of Cape Town. Before joining UCL, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Global Sustainable Development at the University of Sheffield and at the International Centre for Advanced Studies: Metamorphoses of the Political (ICAS:MP) in New Delhi. While her current research is based out of the Sundarbans forests located in the Bay of Bengal Delta that straddle India and Bangladesh, she has lived and worked in several different parts of India, in South Africa and in Argentina. Her first job teaching anthropology was at a community college (Bachillerato Popular) in Buenos Aires. 

Research Summary

I am a social and environmental anthropologist interested in ideas of well-being, moral economy, kinship, gender, and nonhuman governance as these themes intersect with debates in political ecology and global conservation in a climate altered world. My research is based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, a global conservation hotspot emblematic also of the ongoing climate emergency, located on the borders of India and Bangladesh. My research offers new conceptions of conservation that are not solely concerned with the preservation of biodiversity but instead encompass broader life-projects that interrogate notions of sufficiency, human and nonhuman sovereignty, and account for the importance of kinship and care as well as the disruptive forces that accompany gendered forms of care.

My future research project, funded by the AXA research grant, tentatively titled “Centring the Household in a Global Climate Crisis” will be an exploration of women’s mobility and immobility vis-à-vis their roles in both social reproduction and the market. I pay attention to marriage, as well as sex trafficking (which often takes place under the euphemism of marriage) as well as women’s elopement and abandonment, with climate-induced displacement, coastal erosion, and migration as the backdrop to these shifts within families and households. What is often misidentified as migration due to climate change and eroding coastlines is in fact also women’s desires to escape abusive households, play out amorous relationships, and find ways of securing a better future for their children’s lives. Building on my long-term fieldwork in the Bay of Bengal delta, my future research moves towards new directions by complicating the reductive relationship between ongoing agrarian and climate migration to proposing alternative discourses of displacement, mobility and migration that foreground pre-existing socio-environmental vulnerabilities.

I welcome being approached by PhD students for supervision on the following themes: political ecology; mythology; conservation; the politics of care; gendered vulnerability; migration and ecological refugees; the social life of climate change; consumption, aspirations and degrowth; longstanding vulnerabilities; the moral economies of risk and disaster; everyday governance. 


Teaching Summary

I teach Social Anthropology on the BSc. in Global Humanitarianism. I teach the two following modules:


Anthropological Theory (IRDR0031)

Kinship, Ethnicity and Gender (IRDR0031)


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