School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Elizabeth Chatterjee, MA, DPhil (Oxford)


Lecturer in Regional and Comparative Politics

Room Number: Arts One, 2.07
Office Hours: Thursday 1-2pm & Friday 4-5pm


Before joining Queen Mary in 2018, Liz was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Her research examines the political economy of energy and environmental governance, with a focus on India alongside comparative work. Liz holds a doctorate in international development from the University of Oxford, where she was a Fellow of All Souls College. She has also held visiting fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, and the University of California, Irvine.

Twitter: @natterjee



POL242 Global Governance

POL319 Politics of South Asia

POL320 Politics of South Asia – Independent Research


Research Interests:

Liz works on energy politics and state capacity in the age of climate change. Her publications have explored aspects of contemporary Indian politics from blame games to the relationship between electoral competition and public service delivery. She is currently preparing a book manuscript on electricity and the transformations of the Indian state in the economic reform era, alongside articles on solar energy, sanitation, and subnational developmentalism under Narendra Modi.

While at the University of Chicago, Liz was also part of an international collaboration on “The Limits of the Numerical”. A second strand of her research examines the political deployment of numbers and the current crisis of technocratic expertise. The two strands of her research are fused in her ongoing work on the postcolonial Anthropocene, drawing on Asian histories of electrification.

Examples of research funding:

Liz’s postdoctoral research on climate change and the limits of quantification was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her doctoral research was supported by All Souls College, Oxford, and through a predoctoral fellowship from the UK-India Education and Research Initiative.


Journal Articles

“The Politics of Electricity Reform: Evidence from West Bengal, India,” World Development 104: 128–139 (2018).

“Reinventing State Capitalism in India: A View from the Energy Sector,” Contemporary South Asia 25(1): 85–100 (2017) [Winner, best graduate paper, British Association of South Asian Studies]

“Feeling Modern: The History of Emotions in Urban South Asia,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 27(4): 539–557 (2017), with Sneha Krishnan and Megan Robb

“Dissipated Energy: Indian Electric Power and the Politics of Blame,” Contemporary South Asia 20(1): 91–103 (2012)

Edited Collections

Class and Conflict: Rethinking the Political Economy of India (Oxford University Press, under contract), edited with Matthew McCartney)

“Urban Emotions in South Asia,” special issue of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 27 no. 4 (2017), edited with Sneha Krishnan and Megan Robb

Book Chapters

“Distinctively Dysfunctional: State Capitalism 2.0 and the Indian Power Sector,” in Anthony D’Costa and Achin Chakraborty, Changing Contexts and Shifting Roles: New Perspectives on the Indian State (Springer, forthcoming)

“State and Bureaucracy Redux,” in Elizabeth Chatterjee and Matthew McCartney (eds.), Class and Conflict: Rethinking the Political Economy of India (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

“Revisiting the Political Economy of Development in India,” in Elizabeth Chatterjee and Matthew McCartney (eds.), Class and Conflict: Rethinking the Political Economy of India (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), with Matthew McCartney

“A Climate of Scarcity: Electricity in India, 1899–2016,” in John Brewer, Neil Fromer, Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, and Frank Trentmann (eds.), Scales of Scarcity in the Modern World, 1800–2075 (Bloomsbury Academic, in press)

“Insulated Wires: The Precarious Rise of West Bengal’s Power Sector,” in Navroz Dubash, Sunila Kale, and Ranjit Bharvirkar (eds.), Mapping Power: The Political Economy of Electricity in India’s States, pp. 319–339 (Oxford University Press, in press)

“The Limits of Liberalization: The Power Sector,” in R. Nagaraj and Sripad Motiram (eds.), India’s Political Economy, pp. 52–74 (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

“Power Hungry: The State and the Troubled Transition in Indian Electricity,” in Barbara Harriss-White and Judith Heyer (eds.), Indian Capitalism in Development, pp. 208–225 (Routledge, 2014)

“Diaspora,” in Roger D. Long and Arnold Kaminsky (eds.), India Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic, vol. 2, pp. 170–176 (ABC-CLIO, 2011)

Public Engagement

Based on her fieldwork in India’s capital, Liz was invited to write Delhi: Mostly Harmless (Random House, 2013), a travel book for a popular audience. She has also worked as a consultant for the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), Oxfam GB, and Oxford Analytica on topics ranging from urban poverty to solar energy. A recent summary of her work with RAP on the politics of Indian electricity can be found on the University of Pennsylvania’s India in Transition blog, and was reprinted in two Indian newspapers, The Hindu: Business Line and Amar Ujala (in Hindi).

As an intern Liz worked for Unicef, evaluating a sanitation programme in Karnataka, India. Her findings can be found on The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog. Liz has been invited to speak about her research in the United States, India, Britain, Australia, Germany, and Canada.