Student Spotlight October 2020: Meena Menon

Our monthly spotlight on the work and lives of the next generation of water@leeds researchers.

This month we introduce Meena Menon who is the joint recipient of our 12th S.P.R.I.N.G competition.
PhD title: Social Movements and Local Sovereignty in the Age of Transnational Capital and Ecological Devastation in Postcolonial India.
School of History
Supervisors: Professor William GouldDr Elisabeth Leake  

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I was born in Kolkata, India and grew up in the cities of Hyderabad and Mumbai. My last full-time job was as deputy editor with The Hindu in New Delhi, until 2015. After that I continued to write as a freelance journalist  and columnist for some publications. I  am also an author and have written a book based on my reporting experiences in Pakistan , another (co authored) on the History of Cotton in India  and one on communal violence, called Riots and After in Mumbai.

Why did you choose Leeds University? 

I have been trying to do further studies  for a while, and  a kind person recommended Professor Gould as a potential supervisor. To my delight, he was keen on my project and the school also gave me a scholarship, which was quite nice of them, and unexpected.

What is your research about? 

My research is about two post-colonial social movements in India, one against dams and the other against mining,  in the context of the development model that the country adopted. Large river valley and heavy industry projects have displaced millions and provoked a number of protests. The state’s ‘displace and develop’ policy has led to people questioning the development model and also asserting their rights over natural resources.

What did you wish you knew before starting a PhD? 

While I am used to writing,  academic writing is a different ball game altogether – so that’s something I have had to focus on, as also the nitty-gritty of referencing.  I am also getting used to the fact that there is time to think,  read and develop your arguments and write, very different from my life as a journalist where most of the time things get done in a hurry and under deadline pressure.

Follow Meena on Twitter here.