Personal profile


My work focuses on political ecologies of water and hydroclimatic extremes, critical disaster studies, climate urbanism and experimental political ecologies. Although my research is firmly rooted at the intersection of development studies and environmental geography, I am committed to developing research at the nexus between social and natural sciences to further the fields of political ecology and development studies. I draw on multiple qualitative research methods and have developed novel interdisciplinary and film-based approaches to examine socionatural disasters, scenarios of societal responses to extreme events, and the urban metabolism of water quality inequalities and waterborne diseases. My work is published in high-ranking journals across geography, environmental science, geosciences and water resources.

I have over six years of extensive experience of working in diverse academic settings (UK, The Netherlands, Italy, Namibia and Sweden) and of developing a range of courses for students with different academic backgrounds both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. 


I believe that a strong connection and commitment to a cause comes with inspiring stories. Documentaries can connect people to others through individual and collective stories and are an effective and engaging way to communicate with decision-makers.

I am the founder of Whales That Fly: Documenting for Climate Justice, a media organisation that uses videography, documentary filmmaking, scientific articles and blogs to document the links between climate change, economic development and social-environmental inequalities.

As part of this, I directed and produced two documentaries that tell the stories of women and men living at the margins of the city and their everyday struggles to access water:

Water at the margins, Dir. M. Rusca, IHE Delft with Kings College London, Whales that Fly (WTF): 2019

Lilongwe Water Works?, Dir. M. Rusca, Kings College London, Whales that Fly (WTF): 2017

I am currently working on a documentary on everyday experiences of floods and droughts in rural Malawi and South Africa. The documentary, titled The aftermath of a disaster, is currently in postproduction.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Global Development Institute
  • Creative Manchester


Dive into the research topics where Maria Rusca is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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