Rahul Muralidharan

Rahul Muralidharan's picture
Rahul Muralidharan
PhD Candidate
Real name: 

My thesis broadly examines the discursive and material implications of conservation practice in marine spaces and its outcomes on people and wildlife. My research draws upon the framework of political economy/ecology of conservation practice and fisheries. The motivation behind this study is that the artisanal fishers are framed as a threat to wildlife and conservation in general due to population growth, unsustainable fishing practice and degradation of the ecosystem as a result of poverty. Such discursive framing of artisanal fisheries has clear material implications on the day to day lives of the people. My thesis takes a position that the artisanal fisheries are located within the larger political economy of conservation, development and security of the state. I conducted fieldwork in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar areas, adjoining Ramanathapuram District of Tamil Nadu in India. 


Muralidharan, R and Rai, N.D. (2020) Violent maritime spaces: Conservation and security in Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, India. Political Geography, 80(6). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102160

Muralidharan, R. (2018). Entangled lives of dolphins and fishers. Seminar (Vol. 702, pp. 62-65). https://goo.gl/xJ3hdd

Muralidharan, R. and Ramesh, M. (2017). Marine protected areas in India: Protection for whom? In: Occupation of the Coast: Blue Economy in India. Programme for Social Action, New Delhi. 102-104. https://goo.gl/8YdaxL

Sutaria D., Panicker D., Jog K., Sule M., Muralidharan R., Bopardikar I., (2015). Humpback Dolphins (Genus Sousa) in India: An Overview of Status and Conservation Issues. In: Thomas A. Jefferson and Barbara E. Curry, editors, Advances in Marine Biology, Vol. 72, Oxford: Academic Press, pp. 229-256

Muralidharan, R. (2013). Sightings and behavioral observations of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins Sousa chinensis (Osbeck, 1765) along Chennai coast, Bay of Bengal. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 5(15), 5002-5006. https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3454.5002-6

Research film 

Ongi [18 min]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q3aoWQ8TkI 

Ongi, shot in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, traces the conflict between humpback dolphins and artisanal fisheries. It journeys into the lives of artisanal fishers, who share a common narrative of displacement and loss of fishing livelihoods, to reveal how and why this conflict occurs.  

Selected popular writing

Living with humpback dolphins and fishers: A photo story [Link: https://goo.gl/t3NqYV | AYRN blog, March 2017]

What the 45-Day Annual Fishing Ban in Tamil Nadu Means for Fisheries Conservation [Link: https://goo.gl/R8mXD3 | The Wire, April 2017]

Open Letter: Why Is Tamil Nadu Neglecting Its Artisanal Fishers? [Link: https://goo.gl/ydDX13 | The Wire, July 2017]

Why eating seafood responsibly is a not a solution to the fisheries crisis [Link: https://goo.gl/v835Yp | The News Minute, December 2017]


Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation (2016), The Rufford Foundation, UK | Project title: Conservation on a contested coast: Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and fisheries interactions in Tamil Nadu, India.

Mini-Grants in Marine Conservation (2016), Duke University Marine Lab, USA | Project title: Exploring data-collection methods for cetacean stranding in Chennai coast, Tamil Nadu, India

Small grants in aid of research (2014), Society for Marine Mammology, USA | Project title: Assessing the presence and movements of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in the south-east coast of India

Global Fellowships in Marine Conservation (2014) at Duke University Marine Lab, Beaufort, NC, USA





Date of Graduation: 
13.04.2022, Wednesday
Graduation Batch: 

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