Carly Nichols

Assistant Professor
PhD, University of Arizona
312 Jessup Hall
Office Hours: 
Tuesdays from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Research Interests: 
Political ecology, global health, gender issues in development, agriculture and food systems, politics of food and nutrition policy, feminist methods, disability studies, geographies of health and wellbeing, regional focus on South Asia

Personal Website:

Educational Background:

PhD in Geography- 2019, University of Arizona

MA in Geography- 2014, University of Arizona

BA in Economics and International Studies- 2010, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee


Potential Graduate Students: I am currently recruiting graduate students (PhD or Masters) for the 2020-21 academic year. People with research interests that broadly align with my work are encouraged to contact me with a brief statement of their interests and a current CV.  There are opportunities for support through departmental funding. 

I am a broadly trained human-environment geographer with specializations in feminist, health, and agro-food geographies. I have over 7 years of research experience across northern, eastern, and central India investigating agriculture, health, gender, and food and nutrition security. ​

My research examines the complex interplay among processes of human health and wellbeing, ecological change, and everyday social relations, particularly in relation to food and agriculture. In considering human-environment-health relationships, I have a particular interest in using qualitative, ethnographic, and feminist methods to understand how health and social inequities are produced, reproduced, and experienced by different stakeholders. To these ends my research parses apart the political-economic and socio-cultural logics that underwrite certain development and global health policies. I then qualitatively trace these policies across multiple sites to see how they are understood, enacted, and come to matter in the everyday lives of all sorts of human and nonhuman bodies.

My most recent project, entitled, Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture, Global Nutrition Policy, and the Gendered and Affective Politics of Health in India, examines the changing political context of global health and nutrition policy in the context of agrarian India. Using an ethnographic approach, I examine how a large non-governmental organization (NGO) in India has begun to use women’s self-help groups (SHGs) as village level delivery platforms for health outreach programs. The NGO has further retrofitted its agriculture development model from one focused on productivity and income to one that is “nutrition-sensitive.” This is a re-imagination of agriculture development that focuses on farmers’ health and wellbeing by combining climate-smart agronomic practices, a diversification of crops, and a focus on female empowerment.

I also have long-standing interest in the politics of food and nutrition policy in the context of India, especially in an era of revamped enthusiasm around nutrition within global health and development forums. You can find a recent publication on this topic in the journal Geoforum here.

In addition to my India work, I have done research in collaboration with BARA at University of Arizona that used community-based participatory methods with the Southern Arizona Community Food Bank (CFB) to better understand food insecurity experiences across Southern Arizona.

Selected Publications: 

Nichols, C. E. (2019). Geographic contingency, affective facts, and the politics of global nutrition policy. Geoforum. In Press.

Nichols, C (2017). Millets, Milk and Maggi: Contested processes of the nutrition transition in rural India. Agriculture and Human Values 34(4) 871-885.

Nichols, C. E. (2016). Time Ni Hota Hai: time poverty and food security in the Kumaon hills, India. Gender, Place & Culture 23(10): 1404-1419.

Nichols, C E. (2015). Shifting production/shifting consumption: a political ecology of health perceptions in Kumaon, India. Geoforum 64: 182-191.

I also have an active interest in publishing in non-scholarly venues. You can see some of my work below. 

We farmers eat fat rice!: the environmental and cultural politics of agricultural change in central India. 2017 A Journal of Natural and Built Environments.  Available at:

Hari hari bhaji khao, kodo-kutki khao, bina-khad wallah sabse original cheez khao! Eat fresh greens! Eat millets! Eat fertilizer-free, original things!. Pacifica: Newsletter of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers. Fall 2017. Available at:

Mid Day Meal: Look Beyond the Food'. India Together. August 27, 2013. (re-published on the Public Political Ecology Blog)



Equity Concerns in Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture: A Case from Central India. Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) Academy Week. Hyderabad, India. June 23-28, 2019.

You can see a A4NH blog post that features my work here: Digging Deeper Into Gender and Equity at ANH Academy Week

The Body-Mass-Index as a shifting technology of responsibilization. Annual Meeting of American Association of Geographers. Washington DC. April 6, 2019.