Prof Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Kuntala's research is on people's lives and livelihoods in natural resource sectors such as mining, water and farming.

She teaches courses on Gender and Development (ANTH 8038/39) in the second semester (July-October), and an intensive course on Gender in Resource and Environmental Management in second semester (July-August) every year.

Career highlights

  • Rockefeller Academic Writing Residency, Bellagio Centre, Italy, June-July 2017
  • Senior Visiting Fellowship, Australian Academiy of Sciences, December, 2012
  • Senior Visiting Fellowship, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
  • Career Award, University Grants Commission, India (1999-2002)
  • Panos Institute, Oral Testimony Project of mining-displaced indigenous people in Jharkhand (2002)
  •  NASA Post-Doctoral Fellowship (1987)

Research interests

Women, gender and development; environmental sustainability; women's empowerment in relation to water and mining; communities' roles and livelihoods in natural resources, such as in large-scale and artisanal mining, and the water and sanitation sectors. A theme that is currently being researched is informal mining as part of agrarian transition in Asian countries. This is funded by the Australian Research Council through a Discovery Project (2013-2015), titled 'Beyond the Resource Curse' and an ARC Linkage Project, 'Going for Gold'. For more on this topic, see Other areas of continuing interest includes gender and development, and and community-based natural resource management, including feminisation of agriculture in India funded by an ARC Discovery Project, 'Farmers of the Future'(

Kuntala's research is primarily on South Asia, mainly India, but she has also worked in Bangladesh and Nepal. Earlier, she has undertaken research (funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Project) in Indonesia, and a World Bank Project in Lao PDR. A DFAT-funded project led her to studying informal flurospar mining in the Middle Gobi areas in Mongolia.

Doctoral students currently working with Kuntala are writing theses on the feminisation of agriculture in Nepal, the oppression of women from minority communities in South Asia, and the multiple development discourses in water resources management in South Asia. Her former doctoral students have written theses on gender and development in a mining region and informal mining in Indonesia.

Researcher's projects

My ongoing research is on informal and peasant mining in rural communities that are undergoing rapid change and transition. The project was funded by the Australian Research Council, under its Discovery scheme, titled 'Beyond the Resource Curse'. A related project, also funded by the ARC under its industry 'Linkage' scheme, was 'Going for Gold'. See for details about these projects. 

A related research interest is to explore the social lives of resources and spaces: coal in particular, but also the various 'resource worlds' that are created by different commodities in different spaces.

I put gender at the heart of my research that spans across the length and breadth of natiral resource management: extractive industries, water, agriculture and fishing. 

For example, an action research project in Indonesia attempted to integrate gender in community development in mining - see

A completed research project funded by the ARC under its Discovery scheme: 'Farmers of the Future: Challenges of a feminised agriculture in India'. This project received co-funding by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).

My latest externally-funded project explores women's involvement in pulses value chain in the most marginal of farming lands in Pakistan.

Expertise Areas

  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Anthropology of Development
  • Economic Geography
  • Social and Cultural Geography
  • Economic Development Policy
  • Gender Specific Studies
  • Studies of Asian Society
  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality


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