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Luisa Cortesi (Anthropology, FES)
Luisa’s research asks, how do people live in a region periodically destroyed by floods? How do they deal with the scarcity of drinking water while surrounded by vast expanses of water? Focusing on a rural area defined by the rivers flowing from the Himalaya towards the Ganga, she takes an ethnographic approach to wider questions about human adaptation to rapid environmental change and the ways disasters shape knowledge, practice, and technology. Her advisers are Michael Dove and K. Sivaramakrishnan.
Luisa has won multiple grants to fund her dissertation project, “Living in Floods: Knowledge(s) and Technologies of Disastrous Water in North Bihar, India.” She is spending the current year in the field, accompanied by her baby daughter Anise.
Her awards include a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship; grants from the Fulbright-Institute of International Education and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research; and at Yale, from the MacMillan Center, the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, Tropical Research Institute, Agrarian Studies, and South Asian Studies Council. She was offered, but declined, an award from the American Institute for Indian Studies.
A native of Italy, Luisa earned degrees from the Università degli Studi di Torino, the Université de Fribourg/Universität Freiburg, and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Before entering the joint PhD program in Anthropology and FES at Yale, she worked as a water expert for several UN agencies, and as an applied anthropologist for an innovative development program on floods, water quality, and sanitation in Bihar, during which she experienced first-hand the two “worst floods of the millenium” in 2007 and 2008 in Bihar, India, which inspired her to undertake her dissertation research.
At Yale, Luisa has helped coordinate the South Asia Graduate Colloquium in 2010 and 2011. Also in 2011, she organized a roundtable and series of talks on disasters. She is a trained yoga instructor and looks forward to doing community service as a therapeutic yoga teacher once she is back in New Haven.
2014 “Disaster, Degradation, Dystopia” (co-authored with C. A. Claus, S. Osterhoudt, M.R. Dove, L. Baker, C. Hebdon, A. Zhang) in Bryant, R. and K. Soyeun (eds.) Handbook of Political Ecology, Edward Elgar Publisher, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton MA, USA, in press;
2014 “Interpreting social movements around water: issues of power and knowledge in Bihar”, (extensive study) in S. Paranjapas, S. Khulkarni, A. Menon (eds.) Study of Social Movements on Water in India. IWMI-Tata Water Policy Programme for Sage, in press;
2014 “Global News” in Naito, D. et al., To See Once More the Stars: Living in a Post-Fukushima World, The New Pacific Press, Santa Cruz;
2014 “Filtering Dirty Water and Finding Fresh One: Engaging with Tradition in the Dug-well Intervention in North Bihar” in A. Prakash, C. G. Goodrich and S. Singh (eds.) Informing Water Policies: Case Studies from South Asia. Routledge: New Delhi;
2013 “Nature is hard to know: conflicts over floods as struggles of knowledge” Special commentary to the case studies, in Joy, J.K., Prasad, E. (ed.) The Compendium on Floods and Conflicts in India, Routledge: New Delhi;