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School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Elizabeth Chatterjee, MSc, DPhil (Oxford)


Lecturer in Regional and Comparative Politics

Room Number: Arts One, 2.07
Office Hours: Wednesday 11am–12pm, and Thursday 4–5pm


Liz joined Queen Mary in 2018. Her research spans political economy, energy history, and comparative environmental politics, with a particular focus on India. She is also a “£50” Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, an associate editor of the journal Politics, and a Fellow of the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Liz holds a doctorate in international development from the University of Oxford. Before joining Queen Mary in 2018, she was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Political Science and Franke Institute for the Humanities at the University of Chicago. 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 Humanities Research Institute.


POL242 Global Governance

POL304 Environmental Politics

POL319 Politics of South Asia

Postgraduate Teaching

I welcome applications from prospective PhD students in the following areas:

  • colonial and contemporary South Asia
  • global and comparative environmental politics
  • energy and infrastructure studies
  • states in the Global South.

I am happy to discuss ideas with prospective students: please email me with a short (2,000-word) research proposal and your CV. For procedural information on how to apply for doctoral studies at Queen Mary, please see the School’s webpage.


Research Interests:

Liz’s research explores the history and political economy of energy in the age of climate change, with a particular focus on South Asia. Her publications have explored diverse aspects of contemporary Indian politics, from blame games to the relationship between electoral competition and public service delivery. She is currently completing a book manuscript on electricity and India’s transforming political economy in the liberalization era, providing a new interpretation of the Indian development model and its limits.

Alongside this, Liz also works more broadly on environmental politics and history. Her ongoing projects explore solar energy targets, green nationalism, and energy histories of the Anthropocene. While at the University of Chicago, Liz was also part of an international collaboration on “The Limits of the Numerical”. A further strand of her research examines the everyday politics of metrics and the relationship between quantification and expertise. She has also published on the history of emotions, and has a longstanding interest in the history of travel writing.

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 Asian Anthropocene: Electricity and Fossil Developmentalism”, Journal of Asian Studies (online first view).

“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).


Books and Edited Collections

Class and Conflict: Rethinking the Political Economy of India (Oxford University Press, 2020), 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.

Delhi: Mostly Harmless (Random House India, 2013).


Book Chapters

“State Capitalism in India” with Rohit Chandra, in Mike Wright, Geoffrey Wood, Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, Pei Sun, Ilya Okhmatovskiy, and Anna Grosman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on State Capitalism and the Firm (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

“Rethinking the Political Economy of Development in India” with Matthew McCartney, in Elizabeth Chatterjee and Matthew McCartney (eds.), Class and Conflict: Rethinking the Political Economy of India, pp. 1–27 (Oxford University Press, 2020).

“All Shook Up? State Professionals in the Reform Era”, in Elizabeth Chatterjee and Matthew McCartney (eds.), Class and Conflict: Rethinking the Political Economy of India, pp. 157–173 (Oxford University Press, 2020).

“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, pp. 211–228 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019).

“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, pp. 155–171 (Springer, 2019).

“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, 2019).

“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, Liz was invited to write Delhi: Mostly Harmless (Random House, 2013), a travel book on India’s capital. Her writing has also appeared on The Guardian and London Review of Books blogs, as well as in Indian newspapers such as the Hindustan Times and The Hindu: Business Line. She is a regular commentator on South Asian politics for ABC News (United States).

Liz has also worked as a consultant for Oxfam GB, the Regulatory Assistance Project, and Oxford Analytica on topics ranging from women’s livelihoods to solar energy. As an intern, she worked for Unicef on sanitation in India.  Liz has been invited to speak about her research in the United States, India, Britain, Australia, Germany, Canada, and Finland.