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Mitul Baruah

Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Environmental Studies, Ashoka University

Ph.D. Syracuse University

Mitul Baruah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Ashoka University. His research interests include political ecology, environmental justice, water governance, hazards and disasters, rural livelihoods, agrarian studies, development and sustainability, climate change, and island studies. His current research focuses on the Brahmaputra valley in northeast India. 

Prof. Baruah holds a PhD in Geography from Syracuse University. He graduated with distinction from Syracuse, and his doctoral dissertation received the Geography Department’s Best Dissertation Award for 2016. He also holds an MS in Environmental Studies from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York; an MA in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; and a BA (Hons) in History from Ramjas College, Delhi University. Prior to joining Ashoka University, he taught undergraduate courses at Syracuse University as a Part-Time Instructor. 

Between 2002-2008, Mitul worked with Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), the erstwhile National Tree Growers’ Cooperative Federation (NTGCF), in Udaipur, Rajasthan. At FES, he was deeply involved in various initiatives on common property resources (CPR) governance, sustainable rural livelihoods, and strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions. As a Team Leader at FES, he was responsible for coordinating several large projects as well as forging collaborations with researchers, government agencies, NGOs and donors. These experiences helped him gain a critical understanding of environment-development issues in theory and practice, and they continue to inform his research and teaching. 

In 2008, he received the Ford Foundation International Fellowship, which helped him return to academia. Prof. Baruah’s scholarship is interdisciplinary, and his pedagogy combines theoretical engagements with field-based learning. He is currently finishing a monograph based on his doctoral research in Assam.  

Born and raised in Majuli river island in the middle of the Brahmaputra River, Mitul is passionate about all things river and river islands. When in Majuli, he loves to spend his time, as much as possible, boating, fishing, and simply watching the might river flow.   

  • Mitul Baruah. 2020. “Interspecies love in a flood-ravaged Assam village.” India Water Portal, August 8. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/interspecies-love-time-disasters
  • Mitul Baruah and Jenia Mukherjee. 2018. “River and Estuarine Islands: Ephemeral Geographies, Adaptive Communities.” In Routledge International Handbook of Island Studies, Godfrey Baldacchino (Ed.), Routledge, UK. 
  • Mitul Baruah. 2017. “(Un)natural Disasters and the Role of the State in the Brahmaputra Valley, Assam,” in A Place of Relations: Northeast India, Yasmin Saikia and Amit Baishya (Eds.), Cambridge University Press: New Delhi.  
  • Mitul Baruah. 2017. ““Namami Brahmaputra”: Worshipping a river, ignoring its materialities.” Entitle blog (A collaborative writing project on political ecology by the European Network of Political Ecology), April 27. https://entitleblogdotorg3.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/namami-brahmaputra-worshipping-a-river-ignoring-its-materialities/
  • Mitul Baruah. 2016. “Flood-control methods deployed in Assam have actually worsened the problem.” Scroll.in, August 2. https://scroll.in/article/812992/assam-floods-are-a-reminder-that-embankments-are-no-solution-they-are-a-big-part-of-the-problem
  • Mitul Baruah. 2014. “Forest management in Rajasthan: Tribals, NGOs, and the State,” in South Asia in the World, Susan S. Wadley (Ed.), M.E. Sharpe Publications: New York.     
  • Mitul Baruah and Sharon Moran. 2010. “Ecological Economics,” in Green Politics (Sage Reference Series on Green Society), Dustin Mulvaney (Ed.), Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.  
  • Best Dissertation Award, Department of Geography, Syracuse University, 2016. 
  • Summer Research Grant, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 2015.   
  • Roscoe Martin Research Grant, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 2012-2015.  
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “Rivers for Life” Photo Contest Award, 2013.  
  • Shin-Yi Hsu Fellowship, Department of Geography, Syracuse University, 2013. 
  • Taraknath Das Foundation Grant, South Asia Center, Columbia University, 2012. 
  • Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, Syracuse University. 2012. 
  • Goekjian Fellowship, Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, Syracuse University, 2011.  
  • Bharati Memorial Summer Research Grant, South Asia Center, Syracuse University, 2011. 
  • David Sopher Award, Department of Geography, Syracuse University, 2010.      
  • International Student Excellence Award, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, 2010. 
  • Ford Foundation International Fellowship, 2008-2010.
  • 2021, “Political ecologies of the everyday in the in-between geographies of chars (riverine islands) in the Brahmaputra River, Assam,” Paper presented at the panel, “Fuzzy boundaries: Threshold between water and land,” at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Online, Sep 1. 
  • 2021, “Political ecology of a disaster and the methodological issues,” Guest Lecture at a post-graduate course on Wildlife Biology and Conservation at the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, July 23.  
  • 2021, “Interdisciplinary Pedagogy: Integrating History and Geography,” Workshop conducted for class IX and X teachers at Delhi Public School (from its 220 branches across India, Nepal and UAE) as part of the Delhi Public School Society (DPSS) workshop series, June 4. 
  • 2020, “The vanishing wetlands and livelihood transformations in the postcolonial geographies of Majuli river island, Assam,” Paper presented at the 1st Global Island Studies Webinar organized by the International Small Island Studies Association (ISISA), June 24.   
  • 2019, “When the ‘field’ is your ‘home’: Negotiating insider/outsider dilemma in fieldwork,” Guest Lecture at the Winter School on Social Science Research Methods for Conservation Biologists at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar, Oct 12. 
  • 2019, ““… Before, the floodwater used to come in gracefully and recede faster”: Political ecology of the Brahmaputra Valley hazardscape and rethinking the postcolonial state,” Paper presented at the Water Future International Conference, Bengaluru, Sep 26.  
  • 2019, “(Re)theorizing livelihoods: Lessons from island geographies/communities in India’s northeast,” Paper presented at the 8th Nordic Geographers Meeting, Trondheim, Norway, June 17. 
  • 2019, “Whose city is it anyway: The political ecology of Delhi’s environmental crisis,” Invited speaker at the Smart City Accelerator, Cohort 2018-2019, Center for Entrepreneurship, Ashoka University, March 28. 
  • 2018, “The significance of river island geographies: The Brahmaputra river system in India” Paper presented at the 16th Islands of the World conference, organized by International Small Island Studies Association (ISISA), Leeuwarden and Terschelling, The Netherlands, June 14.
  • 2018, ““They destroyed the river and robbed our land”: A political ecological study of environmental disasters in India’s Northeast,” Invited talk at the Conflict Research Group, Ghent University, Belgium, June 18. 
  •  2018, “A toxic city,” Guest Lecture at the Ashoka-Stanford collaborative course, Mega City: The Many Lives of Delhi, Ashoka University, Aug 8.
  • 2018, “The Brahmaputra Valley hazardscape and the rural livelihood crises,” Invited paper presenter at the workshop on Rural Urban Entanglements in India, co-organized by Ambedkar University, Delhi and the University of Washington, Seattle, New Delhi, April 27.  
  • 2018, “The social life of infrastructures,” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers, New Orleans, April 12.   
  • 2018, “Hazardscape and the rural livelihood crises in the Brahmaputra Valley, Assam: A political ecological study,” Paper presented at the workshop, “Development Corridors and the Sustainability Challenge: Land, Water, Livelihoods” at Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development, Guwahati (Assam), March 6.
  • 2017, Co-organizer of a daylong workshop, “Environment from the Margins,” and paper presentation, “Disastrous geographies and rural livelihood transformations in the Brahmaputra Valley, Assam,” Ashoka University, Nov 18. 
  • 2017, “The Brahmaputra Valley Hazardscape: Flood, Riverbank Erosion and Vulnerabilities,” Guest Lecture in a course, Political Ecology of Water, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, Nov 6. 
  • 2017, “Political Ecology of Disastrous Geographies and Rural Livelihood Transformations in the Brahmaputra Valley, Assam,” Paper presentation at the Preconference on Futures of Northeast Indian Studies in the 46th Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, Oct 26. 
  • 2017, “Disastrous Small Island Geographies in the Brahmaputra Valley (India) and Rural Livelihood Transformations,” Paper presented at the 15th Islands of the World Conference, Kangaroo Island, Australia, July 5.  
  • 2016, Panelist: “So how’s the writing going? A graduate student panel on data, writing, and life at the dissertation stage,” Department of Geography, Syracuse University, Oct 14. 
  • State, Stateless Societies, and Problems of Power (SOA-2101-1)
  • Political Ecology and the Modes of Resistance (SOA-2203/ES-2432-1) 
  • Nature’s Futures (SOA-2106-1)
  • The Right to Water (SOA-312/ES-305-1)
  • Introduction to Environmental Studies (FC-0102-1)
  • Agrarian Sociology: Land, Culture and Power (SOA-319/ES-307/POL-1)
  • Social Movements: Theory and Practice (SOA-304)
  • Society and Social Inequality (SOA-205)
  • Environment and Society (CT-229/ES/SOA-1)
  1. Hiteshi Ajmera (Co-advisor), Undergraduate Senior Thesis, Department of Political Science, Ashoka University, 2020-present. Thesis title: The Silent Epidemic: Female farmer Suicides and a Gendered Understanding of the Agrarian Crisis in India. 
  2. Sakhi Upadhyaya (Advisor), MA in Liberal Studies, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Ashoka University, 2018. Thesis title:“Ramjas Humaara Hai”: An Inquiry into the Phenomenon of ‘Campus Politics’ in Delhi University.  
  3. Labonie Roy (Advisor), Undergraduate Senior Thesis, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Ashoka University, 2018. Thesis title: Understanding Waste: A Socio-Environmental Study of Municipal Solid Waste Management
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