Professor Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

Resource, Environment and Development Program at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T: +61 409158145

Areas of expertise

  • Natural Resource Management 050209
  • Gender Specific Studies 169901
  • Economic Geography 160401
  • Environmental Impact Assessment 050204
  • Economic Development Policy 160505
  • Anthropology Of Development 160101
  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality 200205
  • Social And Cultural Geography 160403
  • Studies Of Asian Society 169903
  • Human Geography 1604
  • Other Studies In Creative Arts And Writing 1999

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.


Kuntala was trained in Human Geography at the Calcutta University in India and taught in Burdwan University before joining the ANU in 2002. She manages the Environment and Resource Management Graduate Study Field of research at present and convenes the gender specialisation in the Masters in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (MAAPD). In addition, Kuntala teaches courses on Exploring Gender and Development (ANTH 8038/39) in the first semester (February-June) every year. From 2013, she is introducing a new course on Gender, Resources and the Environment to be taught in Semester 2 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)

Researcher's projects

Ongoing research 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 DP 13 scheme, titled 'Beyond the Resource Curse'. Another one was a 'Linkage Project' (also funded by the ARC), titled 'Going for Gold'. See  for details.

A related 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.

Gender across the length and breadth of natiral resource management: extractive industries, water, agriculture and fishing. 

A related action research project integrating gender in community development - see

Another one is ARC DP: 'Farmners of the Future: Challenges of a feminised agriculture in India', co-funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).


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Updated:  15 October 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers