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My research is broadly concerned with the politics of human relationships with the living environment. Following earlier work on indigenous ownership and leadership in Amazonia, my current projects deal with the globalisation of tropical forest conservation and aspects of the ‘green economy’.
I am currently developing three new research projects:
1) ‘The Human Economy of Forest Carbon’, focuses on the financialisation of rainforests based on the value ascribed to them as ‘natural capital’. It involves the ethnographic study of investors and traders in the voluntary carbon market, and of the local impact of forest carbon projects.
2) ‘Cosmographies: Landscape Imagery, Science and Indigenous Knowledge’, explores the role of images in conservation at a variety of scales, from the use of sketch maps and GIS images in local interactions between scientists and indigenous peoples, to the use and interpretation of large scale satellite images at a national or regional scale for consumption by policy makers.
3) My newest project is concerned with moral economies of food production in Italy and Brazil.
My doctoral work at Cambridge University (2003-7) was based on field research among Carib-speaking hunter gatherers and swidden horticulturalists (Trio, Wayana and Akuriyo) of north-eastern Amazonia, and took as its principal focus indigenous Amazonian leadership in relation to native ideas of wealth.
During research fellowships at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (2007-8), Oxford Brookes (2008-9) and Oxford University (2009-10), I explored comparative and theoretical dimensions of native Amazonian property relations.
In my work at the Graduate Institute, Geneva (2010-12) I studied the globalization of conservation and the ‘greening’ of development, focusing on the UN-REDD ‘readiness’ programme underway in Suriname.
(forthcoming) The Imbalance of Power: Leadership, Masculinity and Wealth in Amazonia. New York/Oxford: Berghahn.
(forthcoming) (with V. Grotti and C. Fausto) Ownership and Nurture: Studies in Native Amazonian Property Relations. New York/Oxford: Berghahn.
2012 (with V. Grotti & O. Ulturgasheva) Animism in Rainforest and Tundra: Personhood, Animals and Non-Humans in Contemporary Amazonia and Siberia. New York/Oxford: Berghahn.
2012 ‘Maps and Clocks in Amazonia: the Things of Conversion and Conservation’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(3): 554-71.
2010 (with V. Grotti) ‘The Other’s Other: Nurturing the Bodies of ‘Wild’ People Among the Trio of Southern Suriname’. Etnofoor 22(2): 51-70.
2010 ‘Creativity and Control: Property in Guianese Amazonia’. Journal de la Société des Américanistes 96(1): 135-167.
2010 (with V. Grotti and O. Ulturgasheva) ‘Personhood and “Frontier” in contemporary Amazonia and Siberia’. Laboratorium. Russian Review of Social Research 2(3): 348-65.
2008 ‘Strategic Ethnicity on the Global Stage: Perspectives on the Indigenous Peoples Movement from the Central Guianas to the United Nations.’ Bulletin de la Société Suisse des Américanistes 70: 21-29.
(forthcoming) (with V. Grotti) ‘Ownership through nurture: First contacts, slavery and kinship relations in native Amazonia’, in M. Brightman, V. Grotti and C. Fausto (eds) Ownership and Nurture: Studies in Native Amazonian Property Relations. New York/Oxford: Berghahn.
(forthcoming) ‘Savage Values: Conservation and Personhood in Southern Suriname’. In C. Hill, N. Priston and A. Webber (eds) Social Understandings and Local Constructions of Human Wildlife Conflict. Oxford: Berghahn.
2012 (with V. Grotti) ‘Humanity, Personhood and Transformability’, in M. Brightman, V. Grotti & O. Ulturgasheva (eds) Animism in Rainforest and Tundra: Personhood, Animals and Non-Humans in Contemporary Amazonia and Siberia. New York/ Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 162-74.
2012 ‘Creazione e Controllo: La Proprietà nell’Amazzonia Guianese’, in D. Schmidt and F. Spagna (eds) Etnografie Collaborative e Questioni Ambientali: Ricerche nell’America Indigena Contemporanea. Padova: CLEUP, pp. 193-214.
2012 ‘Proprietà e Commercio di Persone e Piante nella Guyana Amazzonica’. In P. Bollettin and U. Mondini (eds) Etnografie Amazzoniche 2. Padova: CLEUP, pp. 17-24.
2011 ‘Archetypal Agents of Affinity - ‘Sacred’ Musical Instruments in the Guianas?’, in J-P. Chaumeil & J. Hill (eds) Burst of Breath: New Research on Indigenous Ritual Flutes in Lowland South America. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 158-172.
2008 ‘Plants, Property and Trade among the Trio and Wayana of Southern Suriname’, in M. Lenaerts & A-M. Spadafora (eds) Pueblos Indigenas, Plantas y Mercados, Amazonia y Gran Chaco. Bucharest: Zeta, pp. 153-168.