A political ecology of small things

Water, which is the basis of life on this planet, is witnessing significant stress from competing demands, and technologies are now playing a key role in mediating this crisis. I seek to understand how technologies of water production and consumption will shape the discourse of sustainability in the years ahead. My research explores the emergence and rise of reverse osmosis water purifying systems in the state of Gujarat in western India. I attempt to unpack both scientific discourse and everyday practice that leads to the proliferation of such water producing technology in emerging middle class households by bridging Science and Technology Studies (STS) with that of political ecology of water. This research is being supported under the Leverhulme Trust Perfect Storm Scholarships.

Supervisors : Dr Fraser MacDonald & Dr Sam Staddon

Previous Studies

  • MA in Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India (1st Class)
  • MSc in Environment, Culture and Society, University of Edinburgh, U.K (Distinction)
  • PhD in Human Geography, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, U.K (Ongoing)


  • Sir Ratan Tata Trust Scholarship, 2010
  • Leverhulme Trust ‘Perfect Storm’ Scholarship, University of Edinburgh, 2016
  • The Lamb Fund, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, 2018
  • International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Foundation Writing-Up Grants, 2019
  • Konrad Lorenz Institute, Austria, Resident Doctorate Student Writing-Up Fellowship, 2019
  • Geography Endowment Fund, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, 2020
  • Meiklejohn Fund, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, 2021


  • Acharya, A and A. Prakash. (2018). “When the river talks to its people: Local knowledge-based flood forecasting in Gandak River basin, India”, Environmental Development, 31:55-67
  • Acharya, A and A. Ormsby. (2017). “The cultural politics of sacred groves: A case study of devithans in Sikkim, India”, Conservation and Society, 15(2):232-242
  Book Chapters
  • Acharya, A. (2015), The cultural politics of waterscapes’, in R.L. Bryant (ed.), International handbook of political ecology, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 373-386
  • Acharya, A. (2012), ‘Managing water traditions in Uttarakhand, India: lessons learned and steps towards the future’, in: Johnston, B. R., Hiwasaki, L., Klaver, I.J, Castillo, A.R and V. Strang (eds.) Water, Cultural Diversity & Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures? USA, Springer, 411-432
  • Chatterjee, S., Singh, J., Acharya, A., Jha, A.B and R. Prasad. (2010), “Setting Standards for Sustainable Harvest of Wild Medicinal Plants in Uttarakhand: A Case Study of Lichens” in:  Gokhale, Y & A.K Negi (eds.) Community based biodiversity conservation in Uttarakhand Himalaya, TERI, New Delhi, India, 101-123
 Working Papers and Policy briefs
  • Acharya, A and P. Poddar (2016), ‘The River Itself Warns Us: Local Knowledge of Flood Forecasting in the Gandaki River Basin, West Champaran, India’, HI-AWARE Working Paper 5, Kathmandu, Nepal, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
  • Acharya A. (2008), ‘Developing markets for watershed services and improved livelihoods – Conservation of Bhoj Wetlands through Incentive Based Mechanisms’ in: Senaratna Sellamuttu, S., de Silva, S., Nguyen Khoa, S and J. Samarakoon (eds.) Good Practices and Lessons Learned in Integrating Ecosystem Conservation and Poverty Reduction Objectives in Wetlands, Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute; Wageningen, Netherlands: Wetlands International, 86-95
  • Agarwal, C., Tiwari, S., Borgoyary, M., Acharya, A. and E. Morrisson. (2007), ‘Fair deals for watershed services in India’, Natural Resource Issues No.10, London, UK, International Institute for Environment and Development

TEACHING & Tutoring

  • Tutor – Postgraduate Course – Semester I, September – Dec 2018 [PGCE 11244]: Disasters and Development
  • Tutor – Postgraduate Course – Semester II, February – April 2019, [GESC11009]: Energy & Society II
  • Field work demonstrator – Human Geography Undergraduate (4th year) Fieldwork – June 2017, [GEGR10100]: North Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
  • Teaching Assistant – Human Geography Undergraduate (3rd year) Field Work – August 2017, [GEGR09015]: Athens, Greece
  • Teaching Assistant – Human Geography Undergraduate (3rd year) Field Work – August 2018, [GEGR09015]: Athens, Greece
  • Teaching Assistant – Human Geography Undergraduate (3rd year) Field Work – September 2019, [GEGR09008]: Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Field work Tutor – Postgraduate Course – Energy & Society II – April 2019, [GESC11009]: Orkney, Scotland

Guest Lectures/Conference/Seminars

Newspaper and Magazines