Department of Development Studies

Professor Peter P Mollinga

Key information

Centre for Water and Development Director Department of Development Studies Professor of Development Studies Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus Academic Staff SOAS South Asia Institute Academic staff Research Cluster Member Food Studies Centre Member
MSc, PhD (Wageningen NL), PD/Habil (Bonn, Germany)
Russell Square: College Buildings
By email appointment
Email address
Support hours
By email appointment

Research interests

My research focuses on the relationship between water/natural resources and development. It focuses on agricultural water use (irrigation), and its intensifying interlinkage with urban and industrial water use, with a geographical focus in South Asia and Central Asia.

Theoretical emphases are the following:

  1. The cultural political economy of (agricultural) water use, management and governance;
  2. The comparative study of the politics of water/natural resources;
  3. Processes of boundary work in the water/natural resources sector.

Cultural political economy of water

My research explores whether a cultural political economy perspective on (agricultural) water use, management and governance can help to develop new, interdisciplinary approaches to water and development in contemporary capitalism, incorporating insights and perspectives from political economy, political ecology and critical institutionalism.

I have a specific interest in water infrastructure and landscapes as forms of ‘logistical power’. Field research in Gujarat, India on the uses and meaning of water (from the Sardar Sarovar Project) is the main research activity under this emphasis.

Comparative water/natural resources politics

My study of the politics of water and natural resources aims to employ and develop qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) through a method called stepwise small/medium-N QCA, grounded in critical realist ontology and epistemology. The research investigates the contextuality of water/natural resources (knowledge) and its implications for theory development and policy design. 

This emphasis will be pursued from February 2019 as the coordinator of the EU H2020 supported collaborative research project AGRUMIG on agriculture and migration in seven countries (Morocco, Moldova, Ethiopia, Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Thailand and China).

Boundary work

I am interested in ‘boundary processes’ and ‘boundary work’ in the science and in the practice of the water/natural resources sector (interdisciplinarity and the science policy interface). I look at the boundary concepts, objects and settings involved in such processes and work.

The research is particularly interested in analysing boundary processes in situations of social differentiation, polarisation and conflict. This emphasis is presently implemented through literature study on inter- and transdiciplinarity.

Please note I am not currently accepting PhD candidates.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Mr Chris Büscher Water and development in a variegated capitalism.
Dutch water aid & trade development reproducing and transforming water access in Mozambique
Yasmine Hafez Lakeview: An Alternative History of Nile Basin Water Politics
Mr Misha Velthuis Selling modernity - An ethnography of the everyday practice of supermarket chains in Mumbai
Mr Aled Williams Shaping Room for Manoeuvre: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation as a Forest Policy Choice in Indonesia (working title)


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