Medha Mukherjee

Matric Year: 2022 – Subject: DPhil in Geography and the Environment – Scholarship: Oxford-Indira Gandhi Scholar

Medha’s research examines how the low-income, the marginalised, and the most excluded in rural India, can have reliable access to safe drinking water. She is interested in how inclusive outcomes can be reached through national, state and individual choices that impact, and are impacted by, inequalities. Studying such choices and inequalities through the prism of Intersectionality, she identifies markers of identity that shape everyday experiences in limiting, or enabling, access to drinking water. Gathering empirical evidence is a critical component of her work: she grounds her academic research in lived experiences of the people, to inform both theory and practice. Her research lies at the intersection of human geography and anthropology, as she further draws upon the natural sciences, development economics, politics, sociology and history.

Medha is pursuing her doctoral research as an Oxford Indira Gandhi Scholar under the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development. She is also a recipient of the Catherine Hughes Grant awarded by Somerville College for her doctoral fieldwork. Previously, Medha was awarded the Felix Scholarship for her MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management at the University of Oxford. Her MSc dissertation focused on inequalities of water access faced by the urban poor in the megacity of Kolkata, India. She conducted extensive empirical research, amidst COVID-19 restrictions, documenting quotidian challenges of the inhabitants of informal settlements, to inform public policy. She graduated with a Distinction and went on to become a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS).

Growing up in India, Medha has been sensitized to the juxtaposition of excess and inadequacy, in both rural and urban settings. Travelling across India’s diverse landscape since childhood, particularly the Himalaya, has shaped her perception of the delicate balance that exists between humans, and the natural world. Her study of Ethics and the Classics, as an English Literature undergraduate at Jadavpur University, has been pivotal in informing her current research interests. Her five-year background as a writer for the film industry, particularly, documentaries, contributes to her diverse research approach, with a focus on ethnography and visual methods. She remains a strong advocate of transcending disciplinary boundaries, and is happy to engage in any discussion, academic and beyond, to further inclusivity.


Previous Qualifications:

Master of Science in Water Science, Policy and Management, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

Bachelor of Arts in English with Honours, Department of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India

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