I am a geographer interested in the way plants have been moved around by people and how these activities transform landscapes over time. My research usually focuses on ordinary people and tries to understand what motivates them to move plants to new places, how they manage these in their farms, pastures and gardens, and gradually change the larger landscapes of their everyday life. This kind of analysis brings together a wide range of methods from history, political economy and ecology, biogeography and regional development. 

I am one of many people inspired by Fernand Braudel and his approach to writing geographical history that is not limited by national boundaries, and which looks at mountains, seas, and oceans as spaces of human movement and interaction. The Indian Ocean is the geographical and historical frame for my research.

Over the past decade, I’ve worked with colleagues on the transfer of acacia species between Australia, India, South Africa, and Madagascar; and the precolonial arrival of baobabs and mimosa bush across the Indian Ocean to Australia. We are currently working on a comparative project that looks at how indigenous communities in parts of northern Australia, western India, eastern South Africa, and eastern Madagascar think about weeds in their landscapes. All of these projects have been funded by the Australian Research Council.


1993                 Ph.D. Urban Planning, University of California-Los Angeles, USA
1987                 MA Architecture and Urban Planning, University of California-Los Angeles, USA
1983                 M. Dip. Urban and Regional Planning, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad, India
1981                 B. Architecture, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, India

Academic Appointments

2016-                 Director, Research and Academic Programs, Australia India Institute, Melbourne
2015-2018         Principal Fellow, School of Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia
2015-2017         Adjunct Associate Professor, Monash Indigenous Centre, Monash University, Australia
2009-2015         Associate Professor, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Australia
2002-2008         Senior Lecturer, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Australia
1999-2001         Lecturer, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Australia
1997-99             Lecturer, School of Social Sciences and Planning, RMIT, Australia.
1995-97             Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Kentucky
1994                  Visiting Lecturer, Social Policy Programme, University of Durban-Westville, South Africa
1994                  Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of California-Berkeley, USA
1991-93            Graduate Teaching Associate, Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of California-Los Angeles, USA
1987-90            Graduate Teaching Assistant, Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning,   University of California-Los Angeles, USA

Administrative Roles at Monash University

2013-2014         Head, School of Geography and Environmental Science (SGES)
2013-2014         Director, Doctoral Program in Geography, Environment, Sustainability
2011-2012         Deputy Associate Dean Graduate Research, Faculty of Arts
2010-2012         Deputy Head and Education Director, SGES
2007-2008         Deputy Head, SGES
2005-2007         Graduate Research Coordinator, SGES
2003-2004         Graduate Research Coordinator, SGES
2001-2003         Graduate program design and development, Master of International Development and Environmental Analysis (M. IDEA), Faculty of Arts and SGES

Professional Service

Editorial Board, Professional Geographer, 2008 –
Associate Director, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne, 2002 –
Editorial Board, IPCS Writing Past Colonialism Book Series, University of Hawaii Press, 2001 –
Editorial Board, South Asia Journal, 2001 –
Editorial Board, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 2001-2006
External Assessor, ESRC-UK; SSHRC-Canada; NSF-USA; ISF-Israel

Professional Memberships

Association of American Geographers
African Studies Association of Australasia and Pacific
International Association for the Study of Commons
Institute of Australian Geographers
Institute of Postcolonial Studies
Royal Society of Victoria
South Asian Studies Association of Australia
Bombay Natural History Society