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Many of our faculty and graduate students’ research agendas are driven by a desire to work against injustice and disparity, and to tackle critical issues of local, national, and global significance. This includes a broad array of research furthering our knowledge of how power and difference are experienced, from mixed method and GIScience approaches critical theoretical understandings of gender, race, and injustice. This work includes theorizations of race and difference, as well as analysis of how gender, race, class, sexual orientation and other forms of difference operate in daily life. Select and recent published highlights from this research appear below.


On racial and ethnic difference in everyday life:

Lyall, A. & G. Valdivia. (2019). The entanglements of oil extraction and sustainability in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In: Environment and Sustainability in a Globalizing World, A.J. Nightingale, T. Böhler, B. Campbell (eds). Routledge. ISBN 9780765646446.

Valdivia, G. (2018 ). At the margins of citizenship: Uneven development and the revolución ciudadana in Esmeraldas, Ecuador. In: Race and Rurality in the Global Political Economy, M. Critchlow, ed., Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations and SUNY Press.

Bledsoe, A., L. E. Eaves & B. Williams (2017) Introduction: Black Geographies in and of the United States South. Southeastern Geographer, 57, 6-11.

Valdivia, G. (2017). Between sacrifice and compensation: Collective action after oil disaster in Esmeraldas, Ecuador. In: Grassroots Environmental Governance: Community Engagements with Industrial Development, L.S. Horowitz and M.J. Watts (eds). Routledge, pp: 126-145.

Smith, S. and P. Vasudevan (2017) Race, biopolitics, and the future: Introduction to the special section. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35, 210-221.

Wright, W. J. (2017) Memorial for Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2016. Southeastern Geographer, 57, 1-3.

Valdivia, G. (2017). “Wagering life” in the petro-city: Embodied ecologies of oil flow, capitalism, and justice in Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 108(2): 549-557.

Sellwood, S. and G. Valdivia. (2017). Interrupting green capital at the frontiers of wind power in southern Mexico. Latin American Perspectives. DOI: 10.1177/0094582X17719040

Olson, E., and S. Reddy. (2016). Geographies of youth religiosity and spirituality. In: Establishing Geographies of Children and Young People.  T. Skelton and S. Aitken (eds). Springer, pp: 1-23.

Wright, W. J. (2016) Spatializing Blackness: Architectures of Confinement and Black Masculinity in Chicago by Rashad Shabazz (review). Southeastern Geographer, 56, 374-376.

Cravey, A. Palis, J., and Valdivia, G. (2015). Imagining the future from the margins: Cyborg labor in Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer. Geojournal. 80(6): 867-880.

Smith, S., and M. Gergan (2015) The diaspora within: Himalayan youth, education-driven migration, and future aspirations in India. Environment and Planning D 33(1): 119-135.

Vasudevan, P., and W. Kearney (2015) Remembering Kearneytown: Race, place and collective memory in collaborative filmmaking. Area. DOI: 10.1111/area.12238

Bledsoe, A. (2015) The negation and reassertion of black geographies in Brazil. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 14(1): 324-343.


On indigeneity:

Curley, A. (2019). Unsettling Indian Water Settlements: The Little Colorado River, the San Juan River, and Colonial Enclosures. Antipode

Curley, A. (2019). T’áá hwó ají t’éego and the moral economy of Navajo coal workers. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 109(1), 71-86.

Curley, A. (2018). A failed green future: Navajo Green Jobs and energy “transition” in the Navajo Nation. Geoforum, 88, 57-65.

Cravey, A. J., & M. Petit. (2018). Indigenous Moves: Collaborative Multimedia and Decolonial Aesthetics. GeoHumanities4(2), 360-379.

Valdivia, G. (2018). Translations of indigeneity: Knowledge, intimacy, and performing difference in Ecuador. Development and Change. DOI: 10.1111/dech.12446.

Lu, F., G. Valdivia & N. L. Silva. (2017). Oil, Revolution, and Indigenous Citizenship in Ecuadorian Amazonia. Springer.

Maxwell, W. (2017) The Back Swamp drainage project, Robeson County, North Carolina: Biopolitical intervention in the lives of Indian farmers. Water History, 1-20.

Bozigar, M., C. Gray, and R. Bilsborrow. (2016). Oil extraction and indigenous livelihoods in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon. World Development 78: 125–135.

Davis, J., S. Sellers, C. Gray & R. Bilsborrow (2016) Indigenous migration dynamics in the Ecuadorian Amazon: A longitudinal and hierarchical analysis. The Journal of Development Studies, 1-16.

Gergan, M. D. (2016) Living with earthquakes and angry deities at the Himalayan borderlands. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 1-9.

Davis, J., R. Bilsborrow & C. Gray (2015) Delayed fertility transition among indigenous women in the Ecuadorian Amazon. International Perspectives on Sexual And Reproductive Health, 41, 1.

Gray, C. L., M. Bozigar & R. E. Bilsborrow (2015) Declining use of wild resources by indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Biological Conservation, 182, 270-277.

Reyes, A. (2015) Zapatismo: other geographies circa “the end of the world”. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 33, 408-424.

Smith, S. H. & M. Gergan (2015) The diaspora within: Himalayan youth, education-driven migration, and future aspirations in India. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 33, 119-135.


On gender:

Gökarıksel, B. (2017) Making gender dynamics visible in the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 13, 173-174.

Gökarıksel, B. & A. J. Secor (2017) Devout Muslim masculinities: the moral geographies and everyday practices of being men in Turkey. Gender, Place & Culture, 1-22.

Robbins, P., & S. Smith. (2017). Baby bust: Towards political demography. Progress in Human Geography41(2), 199-219.

Smith, S. (2017). Gendered and embodied geopolitics of borders, marginalization, and contingent solidarity. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 13(3), 350-353.

Gökarıksel, B. & A. Secor (2016) The post-Islamist problematic: questions of religion and difference in everyday life. Social & Cultural Geography, 1-20.

Smith, S. (2016) Intimacy and angst in the field. Gender, Place & Culture, 23, 134-146.


Public Engagement

In addition to academic publishing, our graduate students and faculty are also engaging with these issues in the public sphere:

Elizabeth Olson and community collaborator Twanna Monds on the experiences of youth who are family caregivers:

Gabriela Valdivia was interviewed by UNC’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies for their series Conversations at Hickerson House:

Danielle Purifoy wrote an essay about Silent Sam for Scalawag Magazine:

Darius Scott and Elizabeth Olson were interviewed for the podcast ‘Backways: understanding segregation in the rural south’:

Adam Bledsoe has written on the student movement to rename our building: