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 Integrated Water Systems and 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.

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

Her research focuses on how farmers in the rural areas of Maharashtra, in India, are responding to, experiencing or even escaping processes of agrarian restructuring and water re-allocation provoked by the intensification of agriculture. More specifically, she is studying how the shift from subsistence to commercial farming is modifying tenure and labour relations, consumption and migration patterns as well as people’s experiences of and relations to their environment. Moreover, she is interested in analysing, from a feminist critical perspective, how far-away people, places and natures become connected through (physical and virtual) flows of water implied in the commodity chain of high-value crops. In her research, tracing these connections means assessing their implications for modalities and scales of water governance, but also reflecting on potential transnational feminist collaborations that can contribute to more equitable and sustainable socionatural futures.



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