Nikhil Anand

Daniel Braun Silvers, W’98, WG’99 and Robert Peter Silvers, C’02 Family Presidential Professor of Anthropology.

Associate Faculty Director, Center for the Advanced Study of India


339 University Museum

3260 South Street

Philadelphia PA 19104


Nikhil Anand is an environmental anthropologist whose research focuses on cities, infrastructure, state power and climate change. He addresses these questions by studying the political ecology of cities, read through the different lives of water.  

His award-winning first book, Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Politics in Mumbai (Duke University Press 2017), examines the everyday ways in which cities and citizens are made through the everyday management of water infrastructure. Articles based on this research have also been published in Antipode, City and Society, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnography and Public Culture. His essay, Leaky States: Water Audits, Ignorance and the Politics of Infrastructure, was awarded the Junior Scholar Prize by the Anthropology and Environment Society in 2014.

Following his interest in infrastructure studies in political anthropology, geography, and science and technology studies, Anand co-edited (with Hannah Appel and Akhil Gupta) The Promise of Infrastructure (Duke University Press 2018). The book shows how infrastructure provides a generative analytic and site to rethink questions of time, development and politics in different parts of the world.

His new book project, Urban Seas, is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Penn Global Inquiries Fellowship. Based on field research with fishers, scientists and planners as they work in the sea, the book decenters the grounds of urban planning by drawing attention to the ways in which climate-changed seas are remaking coastal cities today. 

Urban Seas also contributes to work in two collaborative research initiatives, Rising Waters and Inhabited Sea, for which Dr. Anand is the co-PI. Together with Bethany Wiggin (Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, co-PI), and Lalitha Kamath and Pranjal Deekshit (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), Rising Waters explores how climate change and urban redevelopment are recapitulating classed and raced vulnerabilities of marginalized residents in Philadelphia and Mumbai.  

Inhabited Sea (with Anuradha Mathur, Co-PI) is a transdisciplinary research collaboration with architects, artists, citizen-scientists, oceanographers, social scientists, and urban planners working in Mumbai. The project proposes to reimagine the futures of coastal cities in the climate changed present, by attending to the ways in which built forms and more-than-human life inhabit wet terrain. 

Anand has been a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, a Quadrant Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, and a Mellon Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center.  He has also received external grants from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe.


Ph.D.: Anthropology, Stanford University, 2011; MESc: Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, 2004; BA.: Reed College, 1998.

Office Hours

By appointment

CV (file)

Research Interests

Environmental anthropology, urban anthropology, political ecology, infrastructure, postcolonial urbanism, citizenship, state formation, critical development studies, water, climate change, the politics of environmental knowledge; South Asia

Selected Publications

Anand, Nikhil. 2023. Anthroposea:  Perfect Pollution and Planning in Mumbai's Wetscapes.*  Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. link

Anand, Nikhil, Bethany Wiggin, Lalitha Kamath and Pranjal Deekshit. 2022. Enduring Harm: Unlikely Comparisons, Slow Violence and the Administration of Urban Injustice.  International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. link

Anand, Nikhil, Akhil Gupta and Hannah Appel. 2018. The Promise of Infrastructure. Durham: Duke University Press. link

Anand, Nikhil. 2017. Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai.  Durham: Duke University Press. link

Anand, Nikhil. 2016. Hydraulic Publics. Special issue on Public Infrastructures/ Infrastructural Publics. Limn 7. link

Anand, Nikhil. 2015.  Leaky States: Water Audits, Ignorance and the Politics of Infrastructure.  Public Culture 27(2): 305-330. link

Appel, Hannah, Nikhil Anand & Akhil Gupta. 2015.  The Infrastructure Toolbox. Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology Online. link

Anand, Nikhil. 2012. Municipal Disconnect: On Abject Water and its Urban Infrastructures.  Ethnography 13(4): 487-509. link

Anand, Nikhil. 2011. Pressure: The Polytechnics of Water Supply in Mumbai.  Cultural Anthropology 26(4): 542-563. link

Anand, Nikhil and Anne Rademacher. 2011. Housing in the Urban Age: Inequality and Aspiration in Mumbai.  Antipode 43(5) (2011): 1748-1772. link 

Anand, Nikhil. 2006. Disconnecting Experience: Making World Class Roads in Mumbai.  Economic and Political Weekly 41: 3422-3429. link

Anand, Nikhil. 2006. Planning Networks: Processing India's National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. Conservation and Society 4(3): 471-487. link

Courses Taught

ANTH2940. Global Cities: Urbanization in the Global South

ANTH2970. Nature Culture Environmentalism

ANTH5390. Advanced Readings in Environment and Society

ANTH5770. Everyday States: The Anthropology of Power and Politics

ANTH6010. Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Culture and Society

ANTH6550. Methods and Grantwriting for Anthropological Research

Previous Courses:

ANTH547. Lives of Infrastructure


Director, Envirolab

Graduate Group, City and Regional Planning

Graduate Group, South Asia Studies

Graduate Group, Lauder Institute for International Studies

Faculty Working Group, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities



Faculty Status