Irene Leonardelli

Junior Researcher in the Feminist Political Ecology of Water


Irene Leonardelli is a Junior Researcher and a PhD Fellow in the Department of Water Governance at IHE Delft. She is a Marie Curie fellow of the feminist political ecology network “Well-being, Ecology, Gender and Community - Innovative Training Network” (WEGO-ITN), funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 program.

She is also involved in several projects including the DUPC2 project “Farming in times of crises: experiences, responses and needs of smallholder farmers during the COVID19 pandemic” – with partners in Morocco, India, Algeria; and in the Transformations To Groundwater Sustainability (T2GS) project

She is part of the editorial collective of the blog Undisciplined Environments, particularly curating the blog series “Reimagining, remembering, and reclaiming water: From extractivism to communing” co-hosted by IHE Delft’s FLOWs.

Before joining IHE, she worked for two years for the International Organization for Migration’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (IOM GMDAC) in Berlin, contributing to several projects, including the “Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy” (MECLEP) project. She also collaborated with several NGOs in Sicily, Berlin and Colombia, conducting advocacy work and providing direct support to migrants, refugees and communities at risk of displacement.

She holds a Joint European MsC in Social Sciences from the University of Amsterdam, University of Deusto and University College Dublin, and a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Bologna.

Research Summary

In her research, Irene focuses on processes of rural agrarian transformation and water re-allocation in Maharashtra, India, from a critical feminist perspective. More specifically, she is studying how changes in water quantity and quality and the shift from subsistence to commercial farming are modifying tenure and labour relations, consumption and migration patterns as well as people’s experiences of and relations to their environment. 

She is interested in experimenting with different ways of theorizing and of doing research-activism, co-imagining and co-enacting more equitable and sustainable human-water relations.




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