Heather O'Leary

Heather O'Leary

Assistant Professor


Office: Davis 239
St. Petersburg Campus, Davis Hall
(SW stairwell through Reception 287 doors)
Phone: 727-873-4156


Dr. Heather O’Leary champions citizen engagement for sustainable urban development. Her research interests include transnational disparities related to women’s rights, water politics, urbanization and the environment. She regularly presents on these topics at national and international anthropology conferences and works with governance institutions like the OECD to find social-science solutions.

O’Leary was a Wenner-Gren and a Fulbright Fellow in India, where she has traveled and performed ethnographic research in Hindi for more than a decade. She speaks Hindi and Urdu, having received a Foreign Language and Area Studies Award from United States Department of Education. She researches how sustainable development plans in coastal cities can be more inclusive. She is an active leader member of many respected anthropology organizations, including presently serving on the executive committee for the International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences and the steering committee of the World Anthropological Union.


  • M.A., University of Chicago
  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Additional Roles


Undergraduate courses in anthropology and interdisciplinary social sciences, including courses on gender in the cross-cultural perspective, environmental movements methodologies and a senior capstone course. She directs the EcoFem Lab, where interdisciplinary colleagues join O'Leay's graduate and undergraduate students to analyze the changing representations of environmental justice in popular culture and rigorous scholarly works


  • Fulbright
  • Wenner-Gren
  • Case Studies in the Environment Best Article Award
  • The Burge and Field Outstanding Article Award “for innovative and meaningful contributions and great promise to be influential over time”


  • Under contract: Conduits of Purity: Reproducing Class in a Developing Waterscape.   Book Manuscript. University of Arizona Press.
  •  2019: “Conspicuous reserves: Ideologies of water consumption and the performance of class” In Economic Anthropology, “Water and Economy” 6: 195–207.
  • 2018: “Pluralizing Science for Inclusive Water Governance: An engaged ethnographic approach to WaSH data collection in Delhi, India” In Case Studies in the Environment.
  • 2017: “Epistemological Undercurrents: Delhi’s Water Crisis and the Role of the Urban Water Poor” In Water, Knowledge and the Environment in Asia: Epistemologies, practices and locales, Ravi Baghel, Lea Stepan, Joseph    K.W. Hill (eds.).  Routledge Earthscan series.
  • 2016: “Between stagnancy and affluence: Reinterpreting water poverty and domestic flows in Delhi, India.” Society & Natural Resources, 29 (6), 639-653.
  • 2015: (with lead author, Dustin Garrick) “Chapter 4: Pathways to Water Security” Securing Water, Sustaining Growth: Report of the GWP/OECD Task Force on Water Security and Sustainable Growth, Claudia Sadoff (ed.). 114-169. University of Oxford.
  • 2015: “Producing Middle-Class Waterscapes Beyond Middle-Class Thresholds: Domestic Workers and Identity Expression through Water Allocation in Lower-Class Delhi, India” In Averting a Global Environmental Collapse: The Role of Anthropology and Local Knowledge, Thomas Reuter (ed.); Cambridge Scholar Series.