Trevor Birkenholtz

Trevor Birkenholtz

814 863 1596
Office Address: 
315 Walker Building
Associate Professor
Department of Geography
File Curriculum Vitae (62.97 KB)
  • political ecology
  • development
  • social theory
  • nature-society relations
  • gender-dynamics
  • South Asia
  • water resources

I am a political ecologist and development geographer with regional interests in South Asia and the United States, empirical interests in water development, and methodological expertise in mixed methods field research. I draw primarily on political economy and science and technology studies (STS) frameworks to examine the links between technological and environmental change, the politics of water-supply development, and the livelihoods of farmers and other natural-resource dependent people. In my research, I collaborate with engineers, physical scientists and economists to examine the articulation of these processes with market-based natural resource governance reforms.

Since 2001, I have advanced these concerns by investigating the transformation of groundwater-based irrigation and water use, and the construction of rural and urban water-supply infrastructure in the arid and semi-arid zones of India. I am currently writing a book, tentatively titled, Infrastructures of Dispossession, where I examine India’s National River-Linking Project. I focus on exploring the international dimensions of financing these projects, the consequences of rural to urban transfers of water for irrigated agriculture and agrarian change, and the implications of these transformations for struggles over urban water supplies.

In a second project, funded by a Fulbright-Nehru Flexible Award (2019-2021), I am studying the political ecology of drip irrigation. Here I am focusing on understanding the conditions under which these systems may or may not lead to water savings in agriculture, as well as the gendered dynamics of their labor demands.

Finally, I am working with hydrogeologists and groundwater modelers with the Illinois Water Survey to examine issues of water scarcity, municipal water-supply planning, and groundwater science communication in the US Great Lakes (Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, under review).