I am an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I am also affiliate faculty in the Environmental Studies Program, Geography, and Latin American and Iberian Studies at UCSB. My research focuses broadly on understanding the role of cultural beliefs and practices in human-environment relations, and particularly in practices that result in negative environmental outcomes. I conduct research in the Amazon, primarily in the western State of Acre, Brazil.
Office: HSSB 2073
Lab: HSSB 2075
Tel: (805) 893-4244
(on sabbatical, 2021-2022)
My research in the Brazilian Amazon examines cattle raising--the leading driver of Amazonian deforestation. In Rainforest Cowboys I examined the logic of cattle raising among different groups in western Amazonia, and expand the discussion to include the social and cultural meanings associated with cattle raising. I have also worked on collaborative research on gold mining, frontier governance, and indigenous land struggles.
My current work aims to expand the scope of explanations of environmental destruction through ethnographic research and collaborative projects. I am working on a second book based on practices and aesthetics of cultivation along the Amazonian frontier. This project draws on my research in settled or anthropogenic places that were once forested, from rural pastures, fields, and homesteads landscaped lawns in the city and public parks. I also remain interested in the cultural, environmental, and economic dimensions of cattle raising across cultures, as well as the cultural logics of meat consumption. Finally, I am working with colleagues in other disciplines to integrate social and cultural factors into theories and explanations of deforestation and land use-land cover change.
At UCSB, I also work closely with undergraduate students through the IV Ethnobotany Project. The IV Ethnobotany Project aims to engage students with the local environment through mapping and documentation of useful and edible plants and the cultural landscape around the UCSB campus.
During the 2021-2022 Academic Year, I will be on sabbatical at the University of Oxford, as a visiting professor in the Latin American Centre/ Brazilian Studies Programme and the School of Environment and Geography. During this time, I will not be teaching or available for office hours at UCSB, but I am still checking my email if you would like to get in touch.