Matthew T. Huber
Associate Professor, Geography
Ph.D., Clark University, 2009
Political economy, historical geography, energy and capitalism, oil, resource governance and social theory
2013. Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press).
In Press. Resource Geography I: Valuing nature (or not) Progress in Human Geography (Invited
In Press. Reinvigorating Class in Political Ecology:
Nitrogen capital and the means of degradation. Geoforum (special issue on “Political Industrial Ecology”)
In Press. Beyond the subterranean energy regime? Fuel,
land-use, and the production of space Transactions
of the Institute of British Geographers
In Press. “Fossilized liberation: Energy, freedom, and the
‘development of the productive forces’” In, Materialism
and the Critique of Energy, Brent Ryan Bellamy and Jeff Diamanti (editors).
Chicago: MCM’ Press.
2017. “Hidden abodes: Industrializing political ecology” Annals of the Association of American Geographers
2017. “Value, nature and labor: A defense of Marx” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 28(1):
2017. “We can’t be dependent on anybody”: The rhetoric of
“energy independence” and the legitimation of fracking in Pennsylvania. Extractive Industries and Society 4(2):
337-343 (with Carlo Sica)
2017. “Chemical dialectics” in “Chemical Geographies” (special
compendium essay with Adam Romero, Julie Guthman, Ryan Galt, Becky Mansfield,
and Suzana Sawyer) Geohumanities 3(1):
2017. “Petro-capitalism”, Wiley-AAG International Encyclopedia of Geography, edited by Doug
Richardson, et al.
2017. “Political Economy of Environment and Resources” Wiley-AAGInternational Encyclopedia of Geography, edited by Doug Richardson,
2016. “Teaching Energy Geography? It’s Complicated” Journal of Geography and Higher Education,
40(1): 77-83; Special Issue on Teaching Energy Geography.
2016. “Neoliberal energies: Crisis, governance and hegemony”
In, The Handbook of Neoliberalism
Simon Springer, Kean Birch, and Julie MacLeavy (eds). London: Routledge,
2015. “Theorizing energy geographies” Geography Compass 9(6): 27-38.
2015. Author response, “Lifeblood
Book Forum” Cultural Geographies
22 (4): 750-754.
2015. “Energy and Social Power: From Political Ecology to
the Ecology of Politics” In, The
Routledge Handbook of Political Ecology, edited by Tom Perreault, James
McCarthy, and Gavin Bridge (London: Routledge), 481-492.
2015. “Oil for Life: The Bureau of Mines and the Biopolitics
of the Petroleum Market,” Subterranean
Estates: Lifeworlds of Oil and Gas, edited by Hannah Appel, Arthur Mason,
and Michael Watts (Ithaca: Cornell University Press), 31-44.
2013. Fueling Capitalism: Oil, the regulation approach, and
the ecology of capital. Economic Geography 89(2): 171-194.
2013. Apocalypse, the radical
left and the post-political condition. Capitalism, Nature, Socialism (with
Mazen Labban and David Correia)
2013. The urban imaginary of nature: Cities in environmental
politics, Urban Politics: Critical Approaches, edtied by Deborah Martin and
Mark Davidson (Sage), 204-220.
2012. Refined politics: Petroleum products, neoliberalism,
and the ecology of entrepreneurial life. Journal of American Studies 46
(2): 295-312 (special issue on “oil cultures”)
2012. Energy, environment and the geopolitical imagination. Political
Geography 31 (6): 402-403 (invited review essay)
2011. Enforcing scarcity: Oil, violence and the making of the
market. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101 (4):
816-826 (special issue on energy).
2011. Intervention: Gusher in the Gulf and the despotism of
capital. Antipode 43(2): 195-198 (editorial on the 2010 Gulf of Mexico
2011. Oil, life and the fetishism of geopolitics. Capitalism,
Nature, Socialism.22(3): 32-48.
2011. Extracting sovereignty: Capital, territory, and gold
mining in Tanzania. Political Geography 30(2): 70-79 (with Jody Emel and
2011. The richest hole on earth? Labor, nature and the
politics of metabolism at the Bingham Canyon copper mine. In Engineering
Earth: The Impacts of Megaengineering Projects, S.D. Brunn, A. Wood (eds.),
353-366 (with Jody Emel).
2010. Circuits of capital. In B. Warf (ed.) The
Encyclopedia of Geography, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
2010. Human ecology and energy. In B. Warf (ed.) The
Encyclopedia of Geography, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
2010. Hyphenated geographies: The deindustrialization
of nature-society geography. Geographical Review 100 (1): 74-89.
2009. The use of gasoline: Value, oil, and the “American way
of life.” Antipode 41 (3): 465-486.
2009. Energizing historical materialism: Fossil fuels, space
and the capitalist mode of production. Geoforum 40(1): 105-115.
2009. Fixed minerals, scalar politics: The weight of scale
in conflicts over ‘the 1872 Mining Act’ in the United States. Environment
and Planning A 41 (2): 371-88 (with Jody Emel).
2008. From lifeblood to addiction: Oil, space, and the
wage-relation in petro-capitalist USA. Human Geography 1(2):
2008. A risky business: Mining, rent and the
neoliberalization of “risk.” Geoforum 39 (3): 1393-1407 (with Jody
2007. The urbanization of an idea: Imagining nature through
urban growth boundary policy in Portland, OR, USA. Urban Geography
28(8): 705-731 (with Timothy Currie).
2007. Global environmental standards for industry. Annual
Review of Environment and Resources, 32: 295-316 (with David Angel and
I am interested in three areas. (1)
The relationship between oil, capitalism, and the politics of “life” in the
United States. (2) The relationship between industrial capital and ecological
degradation (3) The role of capital investment in shaping governance and
property relations in mining territories.
(1) My dissertation research had led to the publication of the
book, Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom and the Forces of Capital (University of
Minnesota Press, 2013). Looking beyond the usual culprits—Big Oil,
petro-states, and the strategists of empire—the book finds a deeper and more
complex explanation for our ‘oil addiction’ in everyday practices of oil
consumption. I suggest that those practices have in fact been instrumental in
shaping the broader cultural politics of American capitalism. The book traces
the relations between oil and everyday life from the 1930s through the oil
shocks of the 1970s to our present predicament, revealing that oil’s role in
defining popular culture extends far beyond material connections between oil,
suburbia, and automobility. I argue that oil powered a cultural politics of
entrepreneurial life—the very American idea that life itself is a product of
individual entrepreneurial capacities. In so doing, I use oil to retell
American political history from the triumph of New Deal liberalism to the rise
of the New Right; from oil’s celebration as the lifeblood of postwar capitalism
to increasing anxieties over oil addiction.
(2) My new research focuses on making visible the “hidden
abodes” of industrial production -- spaces of intensive material and energy
throughput, emissions, and waste production. I suggest political ecology in
general and the politics of climate change in particular have not paid
sufficient attention to such the industrial core of our nature-society
metabolism. My empirical entry point to this topic is a long-term research
project into the history and political economy of the nitrogen fertilizer industry.
Specifically, I am interested in understanding nitrogen’s “industrial
metabolism” -- the deployment of tremendous amounts of natural gas (both as
energy and feedstock) in the chemical “fixing” of nitrogen in large-scale
factories. I am concerned with the carbon emissions from this metabolism, the
ecological implications of the mass application of synthetic nitrogen in
agriculture (involving significant disruptions to the ‘nitrogen cycle’ and
water pollution), and the wider dependence of our food system on carbon-intensive
(3) I remain interested in the relations between the
state, capital and the territorial control over mineral resources in multiple
contexts. I was involved in a long-term research project with Jody Emel
(Clark University) on gold mining policy in Tanzania. Specifically, we examined
the tensions between sovereignty and territoriality that inform the state’s
legal ownership of all sub-surface minerals and their attempts to attract
foreign direct investment. I have also examined the geographies of
mineral extraction in the United States from copper mining in Bingham Canyon,
UT to the scalar politics of the “1872 Mining Act.” Living on the north side of
the enormous “Marcellus Shale” gas formation, I am also interested in the
emerging political geographies of hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) and its
Research Grants and Awards
Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Sciences, $192,777.00 “The
Nitrogen Fertilizer Industry: Integrating Industrial Ecology and Political
2014. James Blaut Award in recognition of innovative
scholarship in cultural and political ecology, Cultural and Political Ecology
Specialty Group, The Annual Meeting of
the Association of American Geographers, Tampa, Fl.
2014. The Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for Teaching
and Research, (junior faculty) Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs,