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Roderick P. Neumann

Professor of Geography

Global and Sociocultural Studies

Office: SIPA 329

Phone: 305.348.2936



My research is centrally concerned with the study of culture and nature in Western thought. In framing my inquiries, I draw from a wide range of critical social theory, including the Marxist, feminist, critical race, and postcolonialist literatures and from the ecological sciences. My methods are predominantly ethnographic and historical. I have conducted fieldwork primarily at rural sites in and around protected areas, particularly national parks and forests. I have completed studies in Tanzania, Western Europe, and California. My research has been funded by NSF, NEH, SSRC and Fulbright and published in a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary journals including The Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Antipode, Cultural Geographies, Political Geography, and Development and Change. Much of my work falls under political ecology's big, interdisciplinary tent. In my 2005 book, Making Political Ecology, I illustrated how the interdisciplinary field links ecology and critical social theory to explain the relationships of environmental degradation and social conflict.

Most of my work develops three variably intersecting themes; the tensions between social justice and biodiversity conservation, political economy of natural resources, and the co-constitution of identity, nature, and landscape. My earliest research in Tanzania, documented in my book, Imposing Wilderness, examines the cultural politics of biodiversity conservation, focusing on conflict and violence surrounding the creation of conservation territories in colonial and postcolonial Africa. Some of this and related research in Africa, examines how international conservation discourse and practice are inflected by unexamined racial hierarchies and stereotypes. In another study, published in my 2000 book, Research in NTFP Commercialisation, I conducted a critical analysis of the so-called "Rainforest Crunch hypothesis"—that non-timber forest product commodification can simultaneously promote tropical forest conservation and economic development for rural communities. I have conducted and continue to conduct extensive historical work on the co-construction of nature and racial and national identities within British and American imperialism and colonialism. My latest research agenda incorporates insights from science and technology studies and the so-called nonhuman turn in the humanities and social sciences. My central goal is to engage nonhuman perspectives for a fresh conceptualization of human-wildlife interactions in protected areas.

Selected Publications

  • Neumann, R.P. (In Press). Life Zones: The Rise and Decline of a Theory of the Geographic Distribution of Species. In de Bont, Raf and Jens Lachmund (eds). Spatializing the History of Ecology: Sites, Journeys, Mappings. New York: Routledge.
  • Neumann, R.P. (In Press). Commoditization, Primitive Accumulation, and the Spaces of Biodiversity Conservation. In Chari, Sharad et al. (eds) Another Geography is Possible: The Influences of Michael Watts. New York: Wiley-Blackwell (In Press).
  • Neumann, R.P. 2014. Stories of Nature's Hybridity in Europe: Implications for Forest Science and Policy in the Global South. In Padoch, C., S. Hecht, and K. Morrison (eds) The Social Lives of Forests: The Past, Present, and Future of Woodland Resurgence. Chicago: University of Chicago, 31-44.
  • Neumann, R.P. 2013. Churchill and Roosevelt in Africa: Performing and Writing Landscapes of Race, Empire and Nation. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 103(6): 1371-1388.
  • Neumann, R.P. 2004. Moral and Discursive Geographies in the War for Biodiversity in Africa. Political Geography 23(7): 813-837.
  • Neumann, R.P. 2005. Making Political Ecology. London and New York: Hodder Arnold.
  • Neumann, R.P. 2000. Research in NTFP Commercialisation: Review and Analysis. Rome: UN Food and Agricultural Organization. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (with Eric Hirsch).
  • Neumann, R.P. 1998. Imposing Wilderness: Struggles over Livelihood and Nature Preservation in Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Neumann, R.P. 1997. Primitive Ideas: Protected Area Buffer Zones and the Politics of Land in Africa. Development and Change 28(3): 559-582.

Areas of Expertise

Political Ecology, Cultural Geography, Social Theory, Conservation and Development, Landscape Studies, Environmental History, Africa, U.S. West, Europe


PhD, University of California-Berkeley, 1992