My research focuses on the everyday politics associated with conservation and development programs, mainly in Latin America. I study the complex social interactions of diverse actors (e.g., agrarian communities, state agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and multi-lateral donors) over time mainly within the context of neoliberal economic and political reforms.


  • Ph.D., Resource Policy and Behavior, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan (2003)
  • M.F.S., Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (1996) 
  • B.A. with Honors, Environmental Studies Program (Environmental Law and Policy), University of Vermont (1990)

Research Interests

  • political ecology
  • environment and development
  • social theory and environment
  • environmental governance
  • common property
  • neoliberalism and environment
  • biodiversity conservation
  • Latin America (esp. Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia)
  • applied policy studies (policy sciences) 

From a theoretical standpoint, I am interested in exploring both actor-centered and structural understandings of power drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice and related work. From an applied standpoint, I examine how everyday politics (political cultures) shape conservation planning outcomes. Since 1998, I have been conducting ethnographic research on the everyday politics associated with community forestry in Quintana Roo (Yucatan Peninsula), Mexico. In addition, I have written extensively about the politics of biodiversity conservation and protected areas. Besides Mexico, I have also carried out research and consulting in Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, Uruguay, Morocco, and Equatorial Guinea, among others. Although multi-disciplinary by design, my research activities are most closely aligned with human geography, cultural anthropology, and cultural/historical sociology. 

Program Development and Administration

As co-director of the Bucknell Center for Sustainability & the Environment (2005-09), I developed and administered programs designed to create bridges across the university and with a range of partner organizations. The Center has grown rapidly since early 2005 and includes three main initiatives that span all four of the University's divisions (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering): the Watershed Sciences and Engineering Program, the Sustainable Design Program and the Place Studies Program. Each area of programming emphasizes student-centered research, experiential learning, and community outreach. Beyond overall administrative responsibilities, I have been most heavily involved in the Sustainable Design Program. The Center has received significant grant support including: the Henry Luce Foundation ($450,000), federal government appropriations ($191,000), and the Charles B. Degenstein Foundation ($125,000). For more information please visit the Center's website


  • ENST 201: Environmental Problems--Sustainable Futures
  • ENST/GEOG 215: Environmental Planning
  • ENST 240: Sustainable Resource Management
  • ENST/GEOG 325: Nature, Wealth, and Power--Seminar in Political Ecology

Selected Publications

2010. The Receiving End of Reform: Everyday Responses to Neoliberalization in Southeastern Mexico. Antipode 42(3):767-799. [View article]

2010. Beyond Exclusion: Alternative Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation in the Developing Tropics. Current Opinions in Environmental Sustainability 2(1-2): 94-100 (with S. Lele, D. Brockington, R. Seidler, and K.S. Bawa). [View article]

2009. Shades of Social Capital: Elite Persistence and the Everyday Politics of Community Forestry in Southeastern Mexico. Environment and Planning A 41(2):389-406 . [View article]

2009. Social Process as Everyday Practice: The Micro Politics of Conservation and Development in Southeastern Mexico. Policy Sciences 42(2):137-162. [View article]

2003. Contested Nature: Promoting International Biodiversity with Social Justice in the Twenty-first Century . Albany: SUNY Press (Co-edited with Steve Brechin, Crystal Fortwangler, and Pat West).

2005. Community Adaptation or Collective Breakdown? The Formation of "Work Groups" in Two Ejidos in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Pp. 151-179 In Bray et al. The Community Forests of Mexico: Managing for Sustainable Landscapes . Austin: University of Texas Press.

2002. Reinventing a Square Wheel: Critique of a Resurgent 'Protection Paradigm' in International Biodiversity Conservation. Society and Natural Resources 15:17-40. (with Steve Brechin, Crystal Fortwangler, and Pat West).


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