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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a social scientist who works at the intersection between political geography and political ecology.  Geographically, my work focuses on transforming rural environments in Latin America, especially Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador.  My research follows how new globalising agendas for sustainability and the rise of new technologies for environmental monitoring (such as drones) transform and affect the contexts within which they are introduced – against historical backdrops of colonial histories, long-term conflict, disputes over land rights and citizenship, and unevenness in terms of access to resources. My work explores how conservation has become a vehicle for the militarisation of conflicted areas – but also how rural communities are using conservation technologies to defend tenure rights and articulate other visions of environmental futures.

Political ecologies of remote sensing: In my most recent work on drone ecologies, I am interested in how the incorporation of remote sensing technologies into conservation alters social and political dynamics.  For example, drones are increasingly important in producing data about forest cover change, but can be implicated in new forms of state control, militarisation, and surveillance. Yet drones are also being used by rural communities and organisations to enact data justice, as they can be used to capture fine grain imagery of illegal mining in indigenous territories, or to document evidence of successful community-led forest governance. We need to develop meaningful accounts of the ways such technologies are changing environmental governance and the meanings of justice.  

I am also working on an alterative history of aerial sensing that places emerging technologies in dialogue with histories of balloon travel and pigeon cameras, as well as Indigenous aerial sensing via plant guides and observation towers.

Interdisciplinary approaches to environmental biodiversity conservation: By combining qualitative approaches with digital and data-driven analyses, more broadly I lead innovative interdisciplinary approaches to solving grand challenges of biodiversity loss that embed complex approaches to participation into knowledge production and policy engagement. Major themes in my work include citizenship rights, legal aspects of tenure and displacement, environmental expertise, and questions of ‘who’ decides in relation to social and political governance.

Histories of enclosure and commons: In parallel with these interests, I pursue archival projects that explore the making and defence of common rights and spaces of common environmental access. I am especially interested in deep understandings of how resistance to dispossession and political disagreement was enacted in contexts where this might not be expected. My recent co-authored book All We Want is the Earth: Land, Labour and Movements Beyond Environmentalism (2023, with Patrick Bresnihan, University of Bristol Press) rethinks histories of environmentalism in these terms. I I am working on a historical geographical project in northwest Scotland (Coigach) where successful protest to the wider Scottish Clearances was enacted 1850-2, and am engaged in collaboration archival work in relation to environmental histories of salt production and environmental change in Colombia, with my colleague Mónica Amador.

Pedagogies: In my teaching and social engagements I am committed to creative practices and critical pedagogy: to taking the university out of the classroom, and removing barriers between those ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the academy.

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Global Political Economy
  • International Development
  • Cabot Institute Food Security Research
  • Cabot Institute Environmental Change Research
  • Migration Mobilities Bristol
  • Citizenship
  • Migration Mobilities Bristol


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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