Associate Professor

Chair, African Studies Program, Henry M Jackson School of International Studies
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Geography, UW Seattle
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Environmental Politics, UW Seattle

B.A. Anthropology, Connecticut College
M.E.S. School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
Ph.D. Geography, University of California, Berkeley

Office: UW2 314
Phone: 425-352-3591
Mailing: Box 358511, 11136 NE 180th Street, Bothell, WA 98011-1713


I believe students interested in the relationships among culture, power, and political and economic change should have a broad training in theories and methods to question, for example such couplings as place and identity, nature and culture, local and global, market and state. Once students are grounded in political, economic, historical and performative approaches to help them understand the world, I ask them to use their knowledge as a tool for action. I ask my students not only to learn anthropology, geography, or cultural studies; I ask them to become ethnographers, geographers, and artists in my classroom. I want them to question the everyday practices and ideas that produce our own common sense understanding of the world, and critically evaluate the assumptions and beliefs that underpin conventional wisdom.

I attempt to create a student-centered classroom in which student interests, experience, and knowledge help determine how to approach course material to collectively learn about the subject. At the end of a course I want students to have their own understanding of the topics and questions explored, what is interesting about them, and why understanding them is important to their lives. I want students to think and act critically, understanding that their everyday actions are intimately linked to the issues we study, no matter how abstract or distant they may first appear.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 264 Africa on Film
BIS 282 Globalization
BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry
BISGST 303 History and Globalization
BIS 340 Approaches to Cultural Research
BIS 420 Colonizing History in Sub-Saharan Africa
BCULST 502 Cultural Studies Research Practices
BCULST 593/ BPOLST 583 Environmental Politics
BCULST 589/BPOLST 593 Development and Globalization
HUM 595 Public Culture: Indigenous Encounters


My research engages political questions and theoretical debates, contributing to scholarship on 1) the cultural politics of the environment, 2) political economy of development, and 3) the post-colonial state. I have published in edited book volumes and peer reviewed journals about gender and development, land rights and transnational investment, and the links between community, landscapes, and activism. Through ethnographic research on the transnational and trans-local aspects of development, my work brings to light the grounded struggles that give shape to so-called global phenomena. My most recent research on the relationship between local politics, intergenerational struggle and transnational policies grows out of my experience addressing inequality, conflict, and struggle in Africa over the past fifteen years.

Selected Publications

2016. “Selling the Serengeti: The Cultural Politics of Safari Tourism in Tanzania.” Series on Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation. Athens GA:  The University of Georgia Press.

2012. Tourism and the Politics of the Global Land Grab in Tanzania: Markets, Appropriation and Recognition.” The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 39, No. 2, 377-402.

Gardner, B., 2009. “Are Livestock a Troublesome Commodity?” Geoforum 40(5):781-783

2008. "Telling Nala's Story: Transnational biography and politics in a Maasai community in Tanzania." Book chapter for the volume, Telling Young Lives: Portraits in Global Youth. Temple University Press.

2008. with J. Igoe, F. Nelson, and A. Williams. "Community-Based Conservation and Maasai Livelihoods in Tanzania." Book chapter for the volume, Changing Landscapes in Maasailand: Land Use, Livelihoods, and Community Conservation. Springer Press.

2008. Review of Rough Waters: Nature and Development in an East African Marine Park (Princeton U. Press, 2004) Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

2006. Review of Highland Sanctuary: Environmental History in Tanzania's Usambara Mountains (Ohio University Press, 2004) Historical Geography: Vol. 34.

1999. "Mutual Incomprehension or Selective Inattention?  Creating Capacity for Public Participation in Natural Resource Management in Panama."  Journal of Sustainable Forestry 8(3/4):127-146.

1998. "Milk, Maize and Money: Breaking Barriers through Co-Management of Natural Resources in Northern Tanzania.  A Case Study of Loliondo and Simanjiro Districts."  Tropical Resources Institute, Working Paper 101.