Letter to prospective students

So, you are looking for a graduate supervisor? When you are a graduate student, after all is said and done, after the ideas and the coursework and the reading and the research, your task is to put down words on the page for your thesis, for research articles, for grant applications, and for job applications. It is the words we write as scholars that makes the research we do visible. Words are the tricky part, I think. As a supervisor, I work hard to mentor graduate students with their writing. I am always interested in students interested in learning the craft of ethnography and ethnographic writing.

My research focuses on writing fine-grained ethnographic accounts of resource extraction, the impacts of war on nature, and the impacts of resource extraction on communities in Colombia and the Canadian Maritimes. My theoretical expertise is in environmental anthropology, economic anthropology, political economy, and the anthropology of resource extraction. I have written about a gold rush of artisanal and small-scale gold mining in the Chocó in northwest Colombia, on the impacts of the buzz phase of resource extraction, on citizenship and violence, on alternative futures in New Brunswick, on what I am calling nature’s war, which describes the emergence of the rights of nature in Colombia, and on the internal conflict from the perspective of nature. I am especially interested in rural lives and livelihoods and agrarian change. My geographic areas of expertise are Colombia, particularly the Magdalena River and the Chocó regions, and the Canadian Maritimes, in particular New Brunswick and the Saint John River valley.

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Brunswick, and I am an Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University in Ottawa. I am part of the International Development Studies program at the University of New Brunswick, I coordinate the Rural Issues Workshop with Tom Beckley, I run a Post-Extractivism Workshop with Donald Kingsbury, and I am the English book reviews editor for Anthropologica.

If you’re interested in pursuing graduate studies with me, I can supervise M.A. students in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton and M IDST and Ph.D. IDST students in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at the University of New Brunswick; I can also co-supervise M.A. or Ph.D. students in the Anthropology program at Carleton University

I sometimes hire undergraduate and graduate research assistants to help with my work, to write articles, and to support ongoing research. I am open to collaborative writing and research projects as a supervisor. I am also open to students pursuing their own independent research and working with in a supervisory capacity.

Questions that I am interested:
  • How does one write ethnography? What are ways to develop the art and craft of writing as a way to build analysis, advance argument, and tell stories?
  • How does resource extraction reshape places and the people living there?
  • How do natural resource projects create social impacts long before operations begin, during what Marieka Sax and I call the buzz phase?
  • How do rural Black communities in the Colombian Pacific pursue place-based rural lives and livelihoods?
  • What are the histories of agrarian change and rural livelihoods on the Magdalena region of Colombia?
  • What are the impacts of war on nature, and how has the armed conflict in Colombia reshaped its rivers, crops, landscape, ecologies and people, and lead to the emerge of the rights of nature?
  • What are the ways that people live on and find a livelihood in the rural places that they live and work in?
  • How can we build alternative narratives for the future?
  • How do people make a living using informal livelihood strategies in Colombia?
  • How do people find a living alongside rivers?