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Research

I am a human geographer focusing on the intersection of disaster and climate risk, vulnerability, labor, and finance. My research investigates how configurations of public and private sector actors and financial arrangements shape disaster vulnerability and influence people's everyday socioecological reproduction. My work spans multiple regions – Africa, North America, and Europe – and scales from individuals, to nation states, to globally circulating policy networks. 

One of my longstanding focuses is catastrophe and weather insurance. I study why and how insurance and other risk transfer tools have become solutions of choice, and with what impacts for climate governance, justice, livelihoods, and landscapes. This includes a hallmark drought insurance program for livestock in Northern Kenya, a continental-scale sovereign insurance pool for humanitarian drought relief in sub-Saharan Africa, and growing catastrophe bond markets for ‘natural’ disaster risks around the globe. Across these cases, I am interested in how geographical research can help recuperate the promise of insurance as a technique of mutual solidarity and sustainable risk sharing in a changing climate.

A second element of my research program focuses on climate change "adaptation labor": the under/unpaid, undervalued, and often gendered work of modifying and repairing socioecological systems to bear the brunt of climatic changes.  Adaptation labor has been a missing analytical category in global climate policy, climate justice scholarship, and labor geography. My work documents how this labor is organized, valued, distributed, and governed across global development institutions and NGO actors, and demonstrates its implications for climate justice.

A third focus is on carceral forest firefighting labor in the U.S. West, charting how Western states are organizing prisoner labor for fire supression amidst shifting fire regimes.

I am interested in working with students studying environmental risk, disaster, development, and finance.

Prior to joining the Geography Department in 2016, I was a lecturer in Economic Geography at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.