Kelly D. Alley

Kelly Alley Alma Holladay Professor of Anthropology
7058 Haley Center
(334) 844-7040

Office Hours

  • By appointment


Kelly D. Alley is Alma Holladay Professor of Anthropology. She received her B.S. from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990.

Dr. Alley has carried out research in northern India for over twenty years, focusing on public culture and environmental issues. Her book titled, On the Banks of the Ganga: When Wastewater Meets a Sacred River (University of Michigan press 2002), explores Hindu interpretations of the sacred river Ganga in light of current environmental problems. Her recent publications include Visualizing Hydropower Across the Himalayas: Mapping in a Time of Regulatory Decline” Himalaya (with Ryan Hile and Chandana Mitra),  "Water Wealth and Energy in the Indian Himalayas" in the Silk Road Journal, "The Developments, Policies and Assessments of Hydropower in the Ganga River Basin" in Our National River Ganga: Lifeline of Millions (Rashmi Sanghi, ed. Springer and Sponsored by Gangapedia), "The Paradigm Shift in India's River Policies: From Sacred to Transferable Waters" in Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change, "The Disappearing Rivers of India" in Asia Pacific Memo and the new online bibliography, "Ganga" with Oxford Bibliographies. She is the author of "Legal Activism and River Pollution in India" The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (summer 2009), "Anthropology and Environmental Debate: Reflections on Science, Resource Nationalism and News Reporting" India Review (2006 special edition on Public Anthropology), "The American Anthropology of India" India Review (2006), "The Making of a River Linking Plan in India: Suppressed Science and Spheres of Expert Debate" India Review (2004), "Separate Domains: Hinduism, Politics and Environmental Pollution" in Hinduism and Ecology, edited by Christopher Chapple and Mary E. Tucker (Harvard U Press 2000 and reprinted in An Anthology of Writings on the Ganga, Assa Doron et al, eds.), "Images of Waste and Purification on the Banks of the Ganga" City and Society (1998), and "Idioms of Degeneracy: Assessing Ganga's Purity and Pollution" in Purifying the Earthly Body of God, edited by Lance Nelson (SUNY Press 1998). The "Idioms" article was reprinted in Worldviews, Religion and the Environment (Thomson Wadsworth 2002), edited by Richard Foltz. She has also published, "Gandhiji on the Central Vista: A Postcolonial Refiguring" Modern Asian Studies (1997), "Ganga and Gandagi: Interpretations of Pollution and Waste in Benaras" Ethnology (1994), and "Urban Institutions at the Crossroads: Judicial Activism and Pollution Prevention in Kanpur" Urban Anthropology (1996) among others.

Dr. Alley has worked with the World Water Forum and UNESCO to incorporate understanding of cultural diversity into water management. She is now working on water governance in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin and with colleagues and students has produced an interactive website featuring hydropower projects and wastewater management infrastructure.  This research has been supported by the Center for Forest Sustainability and the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn. In 2011, she was awarded the President's Outstanding Collaborative Units award with members of the Center for Forest Sustainability at Auburn.

Dr. Alley worked with Julian Crandall Hollick, National Public Radio producer, on the "Ganga Radio Series," a series of features and documentaries about the culture and ecology of the river Ganges in India and Bangladesh. The series aired on NPR in the fall of 2007.

For more information on that project, see:

For three years, Dr. Alley and M C Mehta, an environmental lawyer from Delhi, directed a project to facilitate professional exchanges between environmental lawyers,scientists and NGOs to solve river pollution problems in India. Her web based instructional program on environmental public interest litigation can be read at:

Dr. Alley is Past-President of the Anthropology and Environment Section ( of the American Anthropological Association.

Last Updated: August 13, 2015