Camelia Dewan

Postdoctoral Fellow - Department of Social Anthropology
Image of Camelia Dewan
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Phone +47 22855123
Visiting address Moltke Moes vei 31 Eilert Sundts hus blokk A 0851 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 1091 Blindern 0317 OSLO
Other affiliations Department of Education (Student)

Academic interests

Politics of Knowledge Production, environmental anthropology and political ecology, the anthropology of development, South Asia, gender, the anthropology of climate change, food studies, agriculture, aquaculture, rural livelihoods and human-nonhuman relations.


Camelia is an environmental anthropologist focusing on the anthropology of development. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow on the Norwegian Research Council-funded project (Dis)Assembling the Life Cycle of Containerships where she will examine the final stage of containerships through shipbreaking.

Bangladesh exhibits one of the largest and competitive shipbreaking industries in the world and her project seeks to deconstruct the current discourses surrounding the shipbreaking and recycling industries where Bangladeshi workers are cast as exploited victims. It will ethnographically explore the everyday lives of workers in the end-cycle of containerships - from those breaking the ships to those employed in re-rolling mills - to gain a greater understanding of how they negotiate opportunities and constraints in a context of structural precarity and un(der)employment. The study will engage with wider discussions of increasingly precarious forms of labour in the current economic system. It will examine how global capitalist interests in shipbreaking interact/co-exist with local modes of economic production and labour (recycling, national steel for construction) and look at the political, economic and social relations embedded in these interactions. This includes identifying the relations, tensions and commonalities between migrant shipbreaking workers, yard owners, re-rolling mills and local residents. Departing from the latest environmental ethnographies on ‘biosocial becomings’ (Ingold and Pálsson 2013), the study also seeks to explore how the precarious livelihoods of residents and labourers are entangled with the environment and the multiple species contained within its waters and soils that may have been affected by shipbreaking (fishing, cultivation, health). Such a holistic perspective looking at both power relations and the interdependence between humans and their lived environment may help bridge the gap between political ecology and multispecies ethnography (see Karlsson, 2018).

Prior to joining SAI, Camelia lectured in Environmental Anthropology and Political Ecology as well as Development studies at Stockholm University. She obtained her PhD in Social Anthropology and Environment from the University of London in 2017. Her doctoral work consisted of intercollegiate and interdisciplinary collaboration between the Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies (Birkbeck College) and the Department of Social Anthropology (SOAS). Her thesis “Crisis Beyond Climate Change: An ethnography of development interventions, environmental degradation and gendered livelihoods in coastal Bangladesh” was awarded the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Sutasoma award. It demonstrates how a simplified climate change narrative fails to comprehend the multitude of interlinked processes affecting livelihoods in Bangladesh’s coastal zone. It combines archival research with ethnography to create a historically informed conceptualisation of economic development, its environmental impact and how local populations experience such changes. The study deconstructs the notion of Bangladesh as a climate change ‘victim’ and discusses the way in which climate change as a development discourse may ignore processes of anthropogenic environmental degradation and increase vulnerability to climate risk. 




Dewan, Camelia (Forthcoming) Misreading Climate Change: How Development Simplifications have failed environment and society in coastal Bangladesh, University of Washington Press: Seattle, USA. 

Dewan, Camelia (Forthcoming) ‘Embanking the Sundarbans: The Obfuscating Discourse of Climate Change’ in P. Sillitoe (ed) Anthropology, Weather and Climate Change, Berghahn Books: London, UK.

Dewan, Camelia (2020) "'Climate Change as a Spice': Brokering Environmental Knowledge in Bangladesh's development industry". Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. 

Dewan, Camelia (2019) ‘Impure Foods: Entanglements of Soil, Food and Human Health in Bangladesh’ Gastronomica 19(1).

Dewan, Camelia, Aditi Mukherji, and Marie-Charlotte Buisson (2015) ‘Evolution of Water Management in Coastal Bangladesh: From Temporary Earthen Embankments to Depoliticized Community-Managed Polders’. Water International 40 (3): 401–16.

Dewan, Camelia, Marie-Charlotte Buisson, and Aditi Mukherji (2014) ‘The Imposition of Participation? The Case of Participatory Water Management in Coastal Bangladesh’ in Humphreys, E., T.P. Tuong, M-C. Buisson, I. Pkinskis and M. Phillips (eds) Revitalizing the Ganges Coastal Zone: Turning Science into Policy and Practices: Conference Proceedings. Colombo, Sri Lanka: CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food.

Dewan, Camelia, Marie-Charlotte Buisson, and Aditi Mukherji (2014) ‘The Imposition of Participation? The Case of Participatory Water Management in Coastal Bangladesh’. Water Alternatives 7 (2): 342–66.

Anger, J, Kiwanga, F and C. Dewan (2013) ‘Mid-term Review of the Institutional Strengthening Support to the Association of Local Authorities of Tanzania’, Sida Decentralised Evaluation 2013:4, Sida: Stockholm.

Tropp H. and C. Dewan (2012) “Changing International Perceptions of Public–Private Partnerships in Water Services” in Gunawansa and Bhullar (eds) Water Governance: An Evaluation of Alternative Architectures, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited: Cheltenham, UK.


  • The Royal Anthropological Institute’s Sutasoma award


Tags: Environmental Anthropology, Development, Climate change, Food, rural transformations, maritime, South Asia, Bangladesh, Political ecology


Environmental Anthropology, Development, climate change, food, rural transformations, maritime, South Asia, Bangladesh, Political ecology, 

  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Caring for Dying Rivers: Stories of hope and survival in an embanked floodplain of coastal Bangladesh’.
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Climate Change as a ‘Spice’: Brokering Environmental Knowledge in Bangladeshi Development Industry.
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Climate Change as a ‘Spice’: Brokering Environmental Knowledge in Bangladeshi Development aid projects.
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Climate Change as a ‘Spice’: Brokering Environmental Knowledge in the Bangladeshi Development Industry.
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Climate Change as a ‘Spice’: Performing ignorance in the translation of development projects in coastal Bangladesh (working title).
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Cultivating Development: Misreading Climate Change.
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Embanking the Sundarbans: The Obfuscating Discourse of Climate Change.
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Klimatflyktingar i Bangladesh - redan en realitet?.
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Precarious Livelihoods: Labour & Environment in the Shipbreaking Beaches of Chittagong.
  • Dewan, Camelia (2019). Precarious Livelihoods: Labour and Environment on the Shipbreaking Beaches of Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Published Nov. 3, 2018 9:30 AM - Last modified Aug. 7, 2020 10:09 AM