My research examines human-environment relations following a critical political ecology approach, with a focus on conservation, development and agrarian change. Ethnographic in nature, my research examines how regional political economic processes shape resource access and use, exchange relations and environmental change at different societal scales in Southeast Asia. Since 1999, I have examined the historical origins and contemporary consequences of changing conservation practices on the livelihoods and landscapes of rural, resource-reliant peoples in insular Southeast Asia, and particularly on the frontier island of Palawan, the Philippines. I use this frame to critically examine the spread, impact and outcomes of neoliberalism on conservation, livelihoods, and landscapes in the context of protected areas, market-based governance (REDD, PES etc) and resource commodity chains.
My recently completed ARC Future Fellowship (2014-2018) examined indigenous social responses to the convergence of transnational governance, resource extraction (i.e., palm oil, rubber plantations) and climate change in the Philippines and Indonesia. I examined the process and outcomes of indigenous social movements engaging boom crop production and carbon governance in the context of agrarian political economies in southern Palawan and East Kalimantan. This work was in collaboration with the indigenous NGO, NATRIPAL, Palawan State University, and the University of the Philippines Los Banos.
Related research interests include maritime transitions, fisheries decline and oceans governance, as well as social responses to and movements against varied enclosures and changing identity politics, knowledge and ethnicity during resource use struggles and violence in borderland areas.
I am available to supervise post-graduate students in the broader field of environment and development, but am particularly interested in working with students who have an interdisciplinary background in anthropology, human geography and development studies. While the geographical focus is somewhat open, most of my work has been with students engaged in the political ecology of conservation and development in frontier Southeast Asia.