UCL Anthropology

Dr Marc Brightman

Dr Marc Brightman

Honorary Associate Professor

Dept of Anthropology

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2013

Research summary

My main interests relate to questions of sustainability at different scales. As co-director of UCL's Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability I am especially concerned with using ethnography and anthropological theory to rethink established ideas and approaches towards sustainability. My work is grounded in my research in Amazonian indigenous ethnology, global forest governance, conservation and environmentalism, and the (cosmo-)politics of human relationships with the living environment.

Teaching summary

I convene a Masters course in Anthropology of Development, and co-teach Resource Use and Impacts, which is the core course in the Masters in Anthropology of Environment and Development.

I also contribute teaching in other areas, including anthropology of religion and the ethnography of forest peoples.


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2007


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 (Suriname and French Guiana), 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, and I carried out further research on indigenous perspectives on environmental conservation.

In my work at the Graduate Institute, Geneva (2010-12) I studied the globalization of forest governance and conservation and the ‘greening’ of development, focusing on the UN-REDD ‘readiness’ programme underway in Suriname.

I have worked on several projects in partnership with my wife, the anthropologist Vanessa Grotti, starting with my doctoral fieldwork in Amazonia. We have published three edited volumes together: Rethinking the Frontier in Amazonia and Siberia; Animism in Rainforest and Tundra (both with Olga Ulturgasheva); and Ownership and Nurture (with Carlos Fausto). My monograph, The Imbalance of Power (2016) is the companion volume to Vanessa's forthcoming book, Living with the Enemy.