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Katie Meehan

Katie Meehan profile picture
  • Title: Associate Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-4521
  • Office: 107C Condon Hall
  • Office Hours: Fall 2017 Tuesdays 4:00-5:00pm
  • Affiliated Departments: Latin American Studies
  • Interests: Water policy and governance; infrastructure and cities; climate change knowledge; urban political ecology; Latin American science and technology studies


My expertise lies in water policy and governance, urban infrastructure and informal development, social justice and cities, transdisciplinary knowledge regimes, and the politics of climate and environmental knowledge mobilization, especially at the science-policy interface. I draw on approaches in political ecology and science and technology studies (STS), especially feminist science studies, to frame my research in Latin America.

I have two parallel lines of research. My first project examines how grassroots organizations have emerged to mediate new kinds of infrastructural relationships between people, water, and the city in Mexico. Based on a five-year ethnographic study of rainwater innovation in Mexico City, I examine how water supply experiments in the global South--such as urban rainwater harvesting and infrastructural coexistence in Mexico City--might 'plumb' cities in more equitable, resilient, and sustainable ways. My research examines the sociotechnical and spatial planning challenges associated with institutionalizing rainwater harvesting, and draws on urban political ecology and science and technology studies (STS) to understand the promise and challenges of urban infrastructures that are built from 'below' by non-elite actors and knowledge systems. This work is taking shape as a book manuscript, now under contract with the University of Minnesota Press. Past research, set in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, examined why urban dwellers create informal water supply, and how these technologies produced diverse economies, institutions, and hydrologic flows.

A second research interest is in environmental knowledge integration and mobilization at the science/policy interface. Based on a three-year collaborative project with scholars from Canada and Latin America, funded by a Fulbright grant (2014-2017), we explored new modes of stakeholder engagement in transdisciplinary research, how 'local knowledge' is unevenly understood in climate adaptation studies, the ontological and political challenges of knowledge integration, and the geopolitics of transdisciplinary knowledge mobilization across the hemisphere. Our team's work on how research models are evolving to include stakeholders was published in Science in November 2015, among other outlets. In 2017, I started a new NSF-sponsored research project that explores interdisciplinary environmental science and knowledge integration "from microbes to landscape" in the Brazilian Amazon, a place of intense scientific collaboration and longstanding geopolitical unease regarding issues of resource extraction and knowledge production.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, I am not taking on new graduate students in the area of water governance. However, I am seeking a Portuguese-speaking doctoral student, with interests in science studies and political ecology, to help me in the NSF project--details coming soon.



  • GEOG 142: Introduction to Human Geography
  • GEOG 214: Geography of Latin America
  • GEOG 442/542: Urban Geography: The Wire
  • GEOG 467/567: International Water Policy
  • GEOG 607: Graduate seminars in Urban Political Ecology, Science & Technology Studies
  • GEOG 610: Qualitative Methods in Geography


Ph.D., University of Arizona, Geography (2010)

Graduate Certificate in Water Policy, University of Arizona (2010)

M.S. (with Distinction), University of Oxford (2005)

B.A., University of Oregon, Environmental Studies, Political Science (1999)


For a full list of publications, please see Google Scholar. Selected publications include:



  • 2015. Klenk, Nicole L., Katie Meehan, Sandra Lee Pinel, Fabian Mendez, Pablo Torres Lima, and Daniel M. Kammen. "Stakeholders in climate science: beyond lip service?" Science 250(6262): 743-744.
  • 2015. Klenk, Nicole, and Katie Meehan. "Climate change and transdisciplinary science: problematizing the integration imperative." Environmental Science & Policy 54(1): 160-167.
  • 2014. Meehan, Katie M. "Tool-power: water infrastructure as wellsprings of state power." Geoforum 57(1): 215-224.
  • 2014. Meehan, Katie M. and Anna W. Moore. "Downspout politics, upstream conflict: formalizaing rainwater harvesting in the United States." Water International 39(4): 417-430. (Runner-Up for Best Paper Award, International Water Resources Association)
  • 2013. Meehan, Katharine. "Disciplining de facto development: water theft and hydrosocial order in Tijuana." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31(2): 319-336.
  • 2013. Shaw, Ian G.R., and Katharine Meehan. "Force-full: power, politics and object-oriented philsophy." Area 45(2): 216-222. (Awarded the Virigine Mamadouh Outstanding Research Award)
  • 2013. Meehan, Katharine, Ian G.R. Shaw, and Sallie A. Marston. "Political geographies of the object." Political Geography 33(1): 1-10.
  • 2013. Meehan, Katharine, Kerri Jean Ormerod, and Sarah A. Moore. "Remaking waste as water: the governance of recycled effluent for potable water supply." Water Alternatives 6(1): 67-85.