Maxwell School

Tom Perreault

Professor, Geography


Contact Information

529 Eggers Hall
(315) 443-9467

Curriculum Vitae
Tom Perreault CV

Director of Graduate Studies, Geography


Ph.D., University of Colorado, 2000


Political ecology, environment and development, environmental governance, environmental politics, rural livelihoods, indigenous and campesino social movements, Latin America

Personal Website


AMERICA AND THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT (GEO 103) This course provides an introduction to environmental geography. It focuses on the social aspects of resource use practices and environmental policy, with special focus on issues of energy use, water resources, and agricultural systems.   click here for syllabus  

GEOGRAPHIES OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE (GEO 353) This course examines issues of environmental racism and classism, and the political ecology of environmentally-based social movements in the US and Third World.  Special attention is paid to conceptual and legal problems of environmental justice, and struggles over environmental quality.    click here for syllabus

GEOGRAPHY OF MOUNTAIN ENVIRONMENTS (GEO 317) This course examines geoecological and socio-economic processes associated mountain regions and environments. Topics covered include plate tectonics, geomorphology, biogeography, resource use systems, political conflict, socio-economic change, conservation and development.  click here for syllabus  

FOOD: A CRITICAL GEOGRAPHY (GEO 415) This course examines the geographies of agro-food systems, from farm to processing plant to grocery store to dinner plate.  It considers contemporary agricultural systems (including industrial, peasant, and organic farming systems), examines the meat and food processing industries, and explores questions of access, hunger and food justice.  click here for syllabus

THEORIES OF DEVELOPMENT (GEO 705) This graduate seminar takes an in-depth look at development theory, and traces the historical debates between various currents of thought.  Topics include modernization theory, dependency theory, poststructural anti-development critiques, gender and development, grassroots development, sustainability, and neoliberalism.  click here for syllabus

SEMINAR IN POLITICAL ECOLOGY (GEO 755) This graduate seminar examines the political and economic context of environmental change and conflict. Theoretical readings and case studies highlight the social production and politicization of nature through struggles over landscapes and livelihoods, and explore ways in which understandings of nature are bound up with relations of power and constructions of identity.   click here for syllabus



Principal Publications

Forthcoming  (2015) The Handbook of Political Ecology, (co-edited with Gavin Bridge and James McCarthy), London: Routledge (scheduled for publication in 2015)

Forthcoming  (2015) “Introduction” (with Gavin Bridge and James McCarthy), in The Handbook of Political Ecology, (co-edited with Gavin Bridge and James McCarthy), London: Routledge (scheduled for publication in 2015)

Forthcoming Tom Perreault, “Prólogo.” In  Ecología Política en Chile: Naturaleza, Conocimiento, Propiedad y Poder, Beatriz Bustos (ed.), Santiago: Universidad de Chile.

In press “Performing participation: Mining, power, and the limits of consultation in Bolivia.” Journal of Latin American and CaribbeanAnthropology.

In press “Beyond the watershed: Decision making at what scale?”  In Negotiating Water Governance: Why the Politics of Scale Matter, Emma Norman, Christina Cook, Kathryn Furlong (eds.)

2014 “Participación y poder: la consulta previa y sus descontentos en el sector minero de Bolivia” enExtractivismo minero en Colombia y América Latina, eds. B. Göbel y A. Ulloa, Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia -Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut. pp. 107- 136.

2014  Minería, Agua y Justicia Social en los Andes: Experiencias Comparativas de Perú y Bolivia. Cusco: Centro Bartolomé de las Casas.

2014  “Introducción: Minería, agua y justicia Social en los Andes,” in Minería, Agua y Justicia Social en los Andes: Experiencias Comparativas de Perú y Bolivia.  Cusco: Centro Bartolomé de las Casas, pp. 13-40.

2014  “Agua, minería, modos de vida y justicia social en el altiplano boliviano,” in  Minería, Agua y Justicia Social en los Andes: Experiencias Comparativas de Perú y Bolivia.  Cusco: Centro Bartolomé de las Casas, pp. 101-124.

2014 “What kind of governance for what kind of equity? Toward a theorization of justice in water governance.” Water International, 39(2): 233-245.

2013 “Dispossession by accumulation? Mining, water and the nature of enclosure on the Bolivian Altiplano” accepted for publication in Antipode, 45(5): 1050-1069.

2013 “Reworking the spaces of indigeneity: the Bolivian ayllu and lowland autonomy movements compared” (with Barbara Green), Environment and Planning D:Society and Space, 31: 43-60.  

2013 “Nature and nation: the territorial logics of hydrocarbon governance in  Bolivia,” in Subterranean Struggles: New Geographies of Extractive Industries in Latin America, Anthony Bebbington, Jeffrey Bury, and Kenneth Young (eds.), Austin: University of Texas Press.  

2012 “Environmental injustice in the Onondaga Lake waterscape, New York State, USA”    (with Sarah Wraight and Meredith Perreault), Water Alternatives,  5(2): 485-506.

2012 “Extracting justice: Natural gas, indigenous mobilization and the Bolivian state.”  In Transnational governmentality and resource extraction: Indigenous peoples, mutlinational corporations, multinational institutions and the state, Terence Gomez and Suzana Sawyer (eds.), London: Palgrave.  

2011 "Las contradicciones estructurales y sus implicaciones para la justicia hídrica:Pensamientos incompletos,” in Justicia Hídrica: Acumulación, Conflicto y Acción Social, Rutgerd Boelens, Leontien Cremers and Margreet Zwarteveen (eds.), Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos/PUCP, pp. 67-77.

2010 “Conflictos del gas y su gobernanza: El caso de los Guaraní de Bolivia”  Anthropologica, 28 (suplemento 1): 139-162. 

2010 “Michael Watts” In P. Hubbard, R. Kitchen, and G. Valentine (eds.), Key Contemporary Thinkers on Space and Place 2nd Edition, London: Sage, pp. 454-460.  

2010 “Hydrocarbons, popular protest and national imaginaries: Ecuador and Bolivia  in comparative context.” with Gabriela Valdivia, Geoforum, 41(5): 689-699. 

2010 “El capitalismo, la naturaleza y la identidad social: Una teorización incompleta.”  In H. Vélez Galeano (ed.), Justicia Hídrica: 7 Ensayos Como Aportes para Articular las Luchas, Bogotá, Colombia: CENSAT Agua Vida, Amigos de la Tierra Colombia, pp. 67-79.  

2010 “Networking strategies and struggles for water control: from water wars to mobilizations for day-to-day water rights defense” (with Rutgerd Boelens and Rocio Bustamante), In Out of the Mainstream Water Rights, Politics and Identity, Rutgerd Boelens, David Getches and Armando Guevera Gil (eds.), (London and Washington, DC: Earthscan), pp. 281-306.

2009 “Environment and development,” In The Companion to Environmental Geography. Noel Castree, David Demeritt, Diana Liverman and Bruce Rhoads (eds.), Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 442-460. 

2009 “Environmental governance” (co-authored with Gavin Bridge), In The Companion to Environmental Geography. Noel Castree, David Demeritt, Diana Liverman and Bruce Rhoads (eds.), Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 475-497. 

2009 “Assessing the limits of neoliberal environmental governance in Bolivia,” In Beyond Neoliberalism? John Burdick, Philip Oxhorn and Ken Roberts (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 135-156. 

2008 “Custom and contradiction: Rural water governance and the politics of usos y costumbres in Bolivia's irrigators' movement.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 98(4): 834-854. 

2008 “Natural Gas, Indigenous Mobilization, and the Bolivian State,” Identities, Conflict and Cohesion Programme Paper No. 12, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), 27pp. 

2008 “Geographical perspectives on Latin American social movements: a review and critique,” Geography Compass, 2(5): 1363-1385. 

2008 “Popular protest and unpopular policies: state restructuring, resource conflict and social justice in Bolivia” In Environmental Justice in Latin America. David Carruthers (ed.), MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 239-262. 

2007 “De la guerra del agua a la guerra del gas: gobernabilidad de recursos, neoliberalismo, y protesta popular en Bolivia,” In Depsués de las Guerras del Agua en Bolivia, Carlos Crespo and Susan Spronk, (eds.), La Paz, Plural Editores, pp. 147-182. 

2006 "Reestructuración del estado y las políticas de escala de la gestión de agua rural en bolivia." In Políticas Hídricas y Derechos Campesinos e Indígenas, Rutgerd Boelens (ed.), Lima, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos/ Quito, Abya Yala, pp. 281-315. 

2006 "From the Guerra del Agua to the Guerra del Gas: Resource governance, popular protest and social justice in Bolivia." Antipode, 38(1): 150-172. 

2005 “Why chacras (swidden gardens) persist: Agrobiodiversity, food security, and cultural identity in the Ecuadorian Amazon,” Human Organization, 64(4): 327-339. 

2005 "Geographies of neoliberalism in Latin America," with Patricia Martin (guest editorial and introduction to special issue), Environment and Planning A, 37(2): 191-201. 

2005 “State Restructuring and the Scale Politics of Rural Water in Bolivia,” Environment and Planning A, 37(2): 263-284. 

2003 “Social capital, development, and indigenous politics in Ecuadorian Amazonia.” Geographical Review, 93(3): 328-349. 

2003 “A people with our own identity: toward a cultural politics of development in Ecuadorian Amazonia.”  Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 21(5): 583-606. 

2003 “Changing places: transnational networks, ethnic politics, and community development in the Ecuadorian Amazon.” Political Geography, 22(1): 61-88. 

2003 “Making space: community organization, agrarian change, and the politics of scale in the Ecuadorian Amazon.” Latin American Perspectives, 30(1): 96-121 

2003 “Introduction: Indigenous transformational movements in contemporary Latin America” (introduction to special edited issue) with J. Montgomery Roper and Patrick Wilson. Latin American Perspectives, 30(1): 5-22 

2002 Movilización política e identidad indígena en el Alto Napo. Quito: Ediciones Abya Yala. 

2001 "Vidas rurales y acceso a recursos naturales: El caso Guamote," with Anthony Bebbington. In A. Bebbington, and V.H. Torres (eds.), Capital Social en los Andes, pp. 69-104 (Quito: Abya Yala). 

2001 “Organizaciones de riego y la formación de capital social: El caso Cayambe,” with Anthony Bebbington and Thomas Carroll. In A. Bebbington, and V.H. Torres (eds.), Capital Social en los Andes, pp. 105-139 (Quito: Abya Yala). 

2001 “Developing identities: indigenous mobilization, rural livelihoods, and resource access in Ecuadorian Amazonia.” Ecumene, 8(4): 381-413. 

1999 “Social capital, development and access to resources in highland Ecuador,” with Anthony Bebbington, Economic Geography, 75(4): 395-418. 

1998 “Indigenous irrigation organizations and the formation of social capital in northern highland Ecuador,” with Anthony J. Bebbington, and Thomas F. Carroll, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers Yearbook, 24: 1-15. 

1996 “Nature preserves and community conflict: a case study in highland Ecuador.”  Mountain Research and Development, 16(2): 167-175. 

Guest Editor, Special Journal Issues     

2005 “Geographies of neoliberalism in Latin America,” Environment and Planning A, vol. 37 no. 2, co-edited with Patricia Martin.             

 2003 “Indigenous transformational movements in contemporary Latin America,” Latin American Perspectives, vol. 30 no. 1, co-edited with Patrick Wilson and J. Montgomery Roper. 




I am committed to advising young scholars, and to mentoring the next generation of critical intellectuals.  I welcome inquiries from potential advisees whose research interests include political ecology, environmental justice, environmental governance, social movements, and/or international development, particularly in Latin America.

Current doctoral students 

  • Alejandro Camargo, PhD program, Geography 2010-present (dissertation topic: political ecology of agrarian conflict on Colombia’s Caribbean coast). Dissertation research funded by a COLCIENCIAS Francisco José de Caldas research fellowship (Government of Colombia).
  • Miguel Contreras, PhD program 2013-present (dissertation topic: social movement activism and regionalism in Chile).  Initial work funded by a Fulbright fellowship.

Current Master’s students

  • Manuela Ruíz, MA in Geography, 2013-present (thesis topic: political ecologies of zonas de reserva campesina in Colombia)
  • Marian Turniawan, MA in Geography, 2013-present (thesis topic: production and dissemination of agroecological knowledge in the landless workers’ movement (MST), Brazil)

Former doctoral students

  • Emily Billo, PhD Geography, graduated December 2012 (dissertation title: “Competing sovereignties: Oil extraction, corporate social responsibility, and indigenous peoples in Ecuador”). Dissertation research funded by a National Science Foundation DDRI grant and an Inter-American Foundation fellowship.  Now Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Bucknell University. 
  • Elvin Delgado, PhD, Geography, graduated May 2012 (dissertation title: “Spaces of socio-ecological distress: Fossil fuels, solar salt, and fishing communities in Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela.”)  Dissertation research funded by Fulbright-IIE grant.  Now Assistant Professor, Central Washington University.
  • Keith Lindner, PhD Geography, graduated with distinction, December 2012 (dissertation title: “Returning the Commons: Resource Access and Environmental Governance in San Luis, Colorado”). Dissertation funded by a UC Berkeley Community Forestry and Environmental Research Partnerships Dissertation Fellowship and a National Science Foundation DDRI grant ).   Now postdoctoral researcher, SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, Syracuse, New York.
  • Beatriz Bustos Gallardo, PhD Geography, graduated May 2010 (dissertation title: “Geographies of knowledge production in a neoliberal setting: The case of Los Lagos region, Chile”).  Now Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.  
  • Matthew Himley, PhD Geography, graduated with distinction, May 2010 (dissertation title: “Frontiers of Capital: Mining, Mobilization, and Resource Governance in Andean Peru.” Dissertation research funded by Fulbright-Hays grant); MA Geography, graduated with distinction, August, 2005 (MA thesis title: “The politics of land and forest: nature conservation in highland Ecuador”).  Now Assistant Professor, Illinois State University.

Former Master’s Students

  • Catherine Adams, MA Geography / MPA (Master of Public Administration), graduated May 2003 (thesis title: “Defending our place: protest on the Southside of Syracuse”).
  • Barbara Green, MA Geography, graduated December 2010 (thesis title: “Capitalism in a poncho: social movements, hydrocarbons development, and contested national identities in Bolivia).
  • Mike Kantor, MA program, graduated Geography 2012 (thesis title: “Banking on the impossible: The political life of wetlands in southern Louisana”).
  • Aman Luthra, MA Geography / MPA (Master of Public Administration), graduated December 2004 (thesis title: “Revisiting Shangri-la: landscape representation and the politics of development in Bhutan”).
  • Flavia Rey de Castro, MA program, Geography graduated 2013 (thesis title: Water politics: Governance, conflict and vulnerability in Andean Peru).
  • Sandra Sánchez, MA Geography, graduated December 2007 (thesis title: “Community-based (eco) tourism: indigenous livelihood-development strategies in the Ecuadorian Amazon”)
  • Mauri Stott, MA Geography / MAPA (Master of Arts in Public Administration), graduated December 2003 (thesis title: “Hanging in the balance: sustainable development and politics of scale on the lower Chesapeake Bay, tidewater Virginia”)

Current undergraduate thesis advisees        

  • Rose Tardiff, BA Geography, scheduled graduation May 2015. (Renée Crown University Honors Program. Thesis topic: Community gardens, food security and food justice in Syracuse, New York.
  • Emma Edwards, BA Geography, scheduled graduation May 2015. (Renée Crown University Honors program.  Thesis topic: Sustainable agriculture in central New York.

Former undergraduate thesis advisee

  • Amory Hillengas, BA Geography, graduated May 2010 with University Honors and Departmental Distinction (thesis title:” Accessibility in the Syracuse Food Desert.”)
  • Alexis Sheehan Kinney, BA Geography, graduated May 2010 with University Honors and Departmental Distinction (thesis title: “The Commodification of the Modern Black Man:  Examining the Effect of Drug Laws on the New York State Prison Industrial Complex.”)                       
  • Kristin Novak, BA Geography, graduated May 2008 with University Honors (thesis title: “Overfishing and Environmental Justice in Marine Fisheries,” Awarded Best Honors Thesis in the Social Sciences at Syracuse University, 2007-2008)
  • Dave Oster, BA Geography, graduated May 2014 with departmental distinction (Thesistitle: “Addressing the environmental impact of agriculture: The farm bill and conservation in Central New York.”)
  • Syed Shehtaaz Zaman, BA Geography with Departmental Distinction, graduated May 2010 (thesis title: “The Bangladeshi Miracle: Post-Colonial Bangladesh and the Central Challenges Facing the Political Economy)

Other mentoring

  • Dr. April Baptiste, Environmental Studies Program, Colgate University
  • Dr. Laura Eichelberger, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, San Antonio
  • Dr. Jaime Hoogesteger, Chair Group in Water Resources Management, Wageningen University (The Netherlands) 

Research Interests

Political ecology, environment and development, environmental governance, rural livelihoods, indigenous and campesino social movements,  Latin America

Research Projects

I am interested in the relationships between society and environment in Latin America.  More specifically, my work focuses on three interrelated themes: (1) resource use and environmental governance; (2) the cultural politics of indigenous and campesino environmental struggles; and (3) rural development and questions of livelihood.

My work examines the complex interactions between social movements, environmental politics, and resource governance in Andean South America.  Of particular interest to me is the role of rural peoples’ organizations – regional indigenous federations, irrigators’ associations, grassroots environmental movements, agricultural cooperatives – in mediating resource access and management, as well as national and transnational discourses of development, citizenship and the nation.  In Latin America as throughout the world, rural peoples’ organizations play a crucial role not only in accessing resources and markets – and therefore enhancing their members’ livelihood opportunities – but in advancing political and cultural claims, as well as refracting, resisting, and at times reproducing dominant narratives of development and modernization.  A central focus of my work is the dialectical relationship between rural peoples' social movements and the institutional arrangements, discourses, and material practices involved in the governance of nature and natural resources.


Current Research:
Water, Mining and Rural Livelihoods in the Bolivian Andes 
This project, funded by a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship, examines the social and environmental implications of mine-related water contamination in the Department of Oruro, on the Bolivian Altiplano.  Centuries of mining activity in the watershed has led to severe contamination of the Desaguadero River and Lakes Uru Uru and Poopó, part of the ecologically unique Titicaca-Desaguadero-Poopó-Salares endorheic (closed basin) hydrological system.  This project examines three interrelated phenomena: (1) the ways that severe water contamination shapes the lives and livelihoods of indigenous and campesino populations downstream from mine sites; (2) the structures and processes of environmental governance through which water contamination and mining are managed; and (3) the forms of social mobilization that local populations engage in to seek remediation and compensation from mining companies and the Bolivian state. 

Past Projects:
Hydrocarbons Governance, Indigenous Identity and the Nation
This project, funded by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), was commissioned as part of a broader study entitled, “Identity, power and rights” sponsored by the UNRISD.  It concerned the political ecologies of natural gas extraction in eastern Bolivia, and the ways that gas development has taken on significance for national, and nationalist, politics.  In particular, the project examined the relationship between resource governance, understandings of the nation, and the contentious politics of ethnicity and class in Bolivia. 

Water Resources, Neoliberal Reform and Campesino Mobilization
This project, funded by a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad fellowship, examined questions of rural water governance, state reform, and campesino politics in the Bolivian highlands.  I spent the 2003-04 academic year in Bolivia, researching rural water management (particularly irrigation) in the context of neoliberal state restructuring.  I also examined the material and discursive practices and forms of social organization that irrigators’ associations in the Bolivian highlands employ in order to secure access to and manage water resources.

Indigenous Organizations and the Cultural Politics of Rural Development
My doctoral research, funded by a Fulbright IIE grant and an Inter-American Foundation fellowship, examined the organizational histories, discursive shifts, and political practices of a regional indigenous federation and one of its member community associations in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  This work may be seen as an institutional ethnography, which traced the roles of and relationship between these organizations in the context of nationalist development practices and ethnic cultural politics since the late 1960s. 

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