Dr. Kelly Alley

Author of “On the Banks of the Ganga: When Wastewater Meets a Sacred River”

Dr. Kelly Alley is a professor of anthropology at Auburn University. She has been with the university since 1991 and has been networking with top thinkers and activists in India since then. Her work has been focused on the Ganga river, a large, sacred river that receives a lot of attention due to the stark contrast between its symbolism and pollution issues.

In addition to her writings, including her book “On the Banks of the Ganga: When Wastewater Meets a Sacred River,” she has created two interactive websites that make typically inaccessible information publicly available. Her most recent website focuses on hydropower in India, with an interactive map that allows users to click to see where dams are planning to be built, in order to communicate water issues to the public. Writing for a website is complicated, she says, because you have to find a balance between writing too much and too little. People want interactivity and pictures, so she modified her past writings to find a balance.

Activities must be communicated to the public in order to put pressure on political leaders to develop policy and make change, Alley stressed. “Getting the word out” through writing is how activists can pressure these leaders and overcome corruption. In order to write for the general public, you have to take out the jargon, think of issues in a cultural sense, and write descriptively. She believes writing is important because, across many fields, there is gap between what is going on and public knowledge. Writing is essential to communicating topics and closing that gap.


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