Current Projects

Labor Migration in Indonesia’s Rural Industrial Agriculture and Forest Landscapes

Collaborators: Nancy Peluso, Kim Carlson and Suraya Afiff
Funding: National Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Sciences

Migrant labor to and from agrarian regions of the Global South has grown significantly over the last 10 years, driving an estimated $515 billion in remittance investments in 2015. Simultaneously, agrarian environments have been transformed by large-scale land acquisitions for industrial agriculture and forestry. In this project, we are interested in how labor migration and large-scale land enclosures are combining to shape gendered and generational shifts in agrarian labor relations and resource investments, and in how these dynamics may be shaping new patterns of landscape change. Our research is beginning in four sites in Indonesia this summer and combines ethnographic research methods with long-term and fine-grained analyses of land use and cover change.

Coping with Food and Water Insecurity: Producing Vulnerability or Resilient Responses to the Coffee Leaf Rust Outbreak and Mesoamerican Drought?

Collaborators: Chris Bacon, William Sundstrom, Iris Stewart-Frey, Ed Maurer, ASDENIC
Funding: National Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Sciences

This participatory research project explores hydro-climatic change and variability in relation to food and water access and smallholder livelihoods in northern Nicaragua. Through collaborative work, we have explored the role of local water committees and cooperatives in mediating access to food and water during a particularly severe recent drought (2014-2016). I have also been leading work to explore the linkages between climate adaptation, vulnerability and land use change in the coffee-producing highlands. This research examines shifting patterns of resource control, investment and landscape change in the context of overlapping stressors, including drought, Coffee Leaf Rust and growing levels of rural debt.

Politics and Policy along an Indonesian Commodity Frontier: Landscape and Livelihood Transformations in Southeast Sulawesi’s Smallholder Cacao Sector

This project reconstructs five decades of policies and politics in Indonesia’s smallholder cacao sector and associated shifts in agrarian livelihoods and environments. In past and ongoing work, I have drawn on remotely sensed datasets and Google Earth Engine to document the role of the smallholder tree crop economy in driving widespread “woodland resurgence” from the 1970s onward. I have also drawn on long-term ethnographic research in four villages in Southeast Sulawesi to explore how recent market-based efforts to promote sustainable cacao intersect with earlier regimes of resource use, access and governance. Here my research has focused on the imbrications between contemporary policies and earlier patterns of development in state-controlled forests and “political forests.”