Several long-term projects have occupied me over the last years.

The political ecology of drylands (2012-2017)

This is my PhD thesis, submitted (and defended) at the Technische Universität Braunschweig and recently published as a book by LIT. It deals with the question wether or not climate change in the form of drought creates social conflicts over water and land resources in agrarian societies, and the role of institutions like the state in influencing these conflicts. Preliminary work can be found on Researchgate.

Agrarian change in Sri Lanka (from 2013)

This on-going co-operative work, based on fieldwork and analysis of archival records, investigates the nature of agrarian change in Sri Lanka from a political ecology perspective.

Latest publication:

Sören Köpke, Sisira Saddhamangala Withanachchi, Ruwan Pathiranage, Chandana Rohana Withanachchi, Angelika Ploeger (2018). Social–ecological dynamics in irrigated agriculture in dry zone Sri Lanka: a political ecology
Sustainable Water Resource Management 2018, doi: 10.1007/s40899-018-0220-1

Previous publication:

Sisira Saddhamangala Withanachchi, Sören Köpke,  Chandana Rohana Withanachchi, Ruwan Pathiranage, Angelika Ploeger (2014). Water Resource Management in Dry Zonal Paddy Cultivation in Mahaweli River Basin, Sri Lanka: An Analysis of Spatial and Temporal Climate Change Impacts and Traditional Knowledge. Climate 2014, 2(4), 329-354, doi: 10.3390/cli2040329

The hydropolitics of the Brahmaputra (from 2016)

This project is in its early stages. It seeks to undertake a multiscalar investigation of riverine ecology, hydro/geopolitics, and agrarian change in the Brahmaputra/ Yarlung Tsangpo Basin shared by China, India and Bangladesh. First ideas on the project have been presented at the Undisciplined Commons conference in Stockholm in 2016.


Past projects will be added by and by. For diverse recent work, see here.