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Research interests

I am an economic anthropologist with a particular interest in emerging economic subjectivities in the rapidly changing rainforests of lowland South America. I have conducted long-term research with a Yanomami language group (Sanema) in the Venezuelan Amazon, where I investigated the complexities of their encounters with outside forces, whether raiders, neighbouring groups, non-indigenous people, or the state. The book emerging from this research – Predatory Economies – dwells on these complexities through the idioms of predation that Sanema people deploy. In this context, urban bustling streets, rumours of non-indigenous criminals, state administration, quotas of petrol, and the global desire for gold all coexist in a mosaic of new economies that the Sanema integrate into existing schemas of trickery, seduction and extraction.

My recent research has taken these interests in new directions, from migration of Quechua-speaking highlanders towards lowland riches, to energy access among caboclo forest dwellers, to deforestation and clandestine gold mining. During an EU-funded Marie Curie fellowship entitled ‘Wildcat Economics’, I investigated the intersection of formal and informal economic spheres in Amazon prospector gold mining sites in Peru. I also manage a British Academy-funded project that explores ‘Energy Resilience’ in Brazilian Amazonia with an interdisciplinary team (anthropology, engineering, law, and history) based in both the UK and Brazil. The main objective of these new research initiatives is to develop a broad approach to frontier economies from the perspective of the actors involved.

 

Research interests include:

Capitalism

Deforestation/conservation

Energy

Frontiers

Illegality/informal economies

Infrastructure

Morality

Oil economies

Predation

Resource extraction/mining

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Cabot Institute Low Carbon Energy Research
  • Amazonia
  • Resource Extraction
  • Indigenous peoples

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