Mekhala Krishnamurthy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Shiv Nadar University. She is a Non-Resident Visiting Scholar at CASI, and former CASI Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2010-12), having recently completed a Ph.D. in Anthropology from University College London. Based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, her doctoral dissertation spans three decades of rural transformation in the social, economic and political lives of an agricultural market (mandi) town in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The dissertation explores the interconnections of changing agrarian practices, reforming agricultural commodity markets, the dynamics of political participation, and the forces of local, regional and corporate capital as they are experienced and expressed in the everyday lives and relationships of farmers, traders, laborers, state and corporate institutions.
From 2003-2007, Mekhala worked at the Social Initiatives Group at ICICI Bank, the largest private sector bank in India. During this time, she coordinated the Group's Health Practice (now the ICICI Centre for Child Health and Nutrition) which is dedicated to securing sustainable improvements in the health and nutritional status of women and young children in the poorest regions of the country. Here, Mekhala facilitated partnerships between NGOs, governments and research institutions on a range of action-research, resource support and reform initiatives to develop community-based processes and public health systems in rural and urban contexts in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and Mumbai. She has also organized and participated in national and international seminars, consultations and conferences. She serves on a number of bodies located within civil society and independent public institutions.
Through long-term field research and public engagement, Mekhala seeks to contribute to strengthening institutions and public systems in the very regions that present the most difficult challenges and vibrant possibilities for social justice and change in India.
Mekhala graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard University, where she received the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for her thesis on nari adalats, women's courts creatively conducted by and for rural women in the state of Gujarat. She subsequently completed an M.Phil. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, where she was the recipient of a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship. Her doctoral work at University College London has been supported by a Graduate Student Research Scholarship, an Overseas Research Scholarship, and the UCL Global Excellence Scholarship.
Mekhala will be a Non-Resident Visiting Scholar at CASI from October 2015 through October 2016.