Participants in the 2014 Summer Institute

The second Summer Institute on Contested Global Landscapes, sponsored by the Institute for the Social Sciences and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, was held at Cornell University from May 18-23, 2014. Selected through a competitive process, participants came to Ithaca from around the globe to address this year’s theme – Knowledge and the Politics of Land.


David Bernstein received his Ph.D. in American history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the guidance of William Cronon and Ned Blackhawk. His areas of academic interests can be loosely categorized as the American West, native American, environmental, history of cartography, and the 19th Century. He is currently a visiting assistant professor of history at Denison University, and his manuscript How the West was Drawn: Mapping, Indians, and the Construction of the Trans-Mississippi West, is under advance contract from the University of Nebraska Press with the Andrew Mellon-funded Early American Places series. He lives in Columbus Ohio, with his wife Inna and three sons, Simon, Isaac, and Avi. David is also a professional photographer.


Gregory Ferguson-Cradler is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Princeton University having previously completed an MA in history at Columbia University and a BA in political science at Middlebury College. He works in history of science and economic history and is interested in how humans interact with and exploit the environment. His dissertation explores how ideas of resource management and concepts, such as rational resource use and sustainability, have traveled over the world and been adapted and implemented in widely varying contexts. His project focuses on responses formulated among scientists, the fishing industry and state regulatory apparatuses to four fisheries crises from the 1950s to the present in the Soviet Far East, Noway, Peru, and the post-Soviet Caspian Sea.

 bikrum gil

Bikrum Gill is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at York University. For the 2013-2014 academic year, he is a visiting research fellow with the Center for Global Studies at the University of Victoria. His research interests include agrarian political economy, political ecology, international relations, development studies, critical race theory, and postcolonial studies. He is particularly interested in re-thinking the ‘agrarian question/transition’ problematique, beyond its conventional class-centrism and methodological nationalism, as a transnational process centered on racialized relations of ‘inclusion by exclusion.’ For his Ph.D. dissertation, Bikrum is examining the development implications of growing South-South linkages int he fields of agricultural investment and cooperation, with a particular focus on the involvement of the Indian state and capital in the commercialization and industrialization of agriculture in Africa.

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Jenny Goldstein, is a Ph.D. candidate in Geography at UCLA. Her research is at the intersection of political ecology, environmental history, and Science and Technology Studies and looks at rural development and tropical ecosystem change in Indonesia. Her dissertation, tentatively titled Boondoggle, or Benefit? The Commodification of Degraded Landscapes in Indonesia in an Age of Climate Change investigates how shifting biophysical characteristics of one-million hectare forest landscape in Borneo has shaped scientific knowledge and political-economic relations and institutions, within which the commodification – and resistance to commodification – of degraded land becomes possible. Her fieldwork in Indonesia has been generously supported by Fulbright, the UC Pacific Rim Research Program, ad the American Institute for Indonesian Studies. Prior to Indonesia, she conducted research in Rwanda and Japan. She also holds and MA in Geography from UCLA and a BA in Theory of Architecture from Barnard College.

 ev haines

Elizabeth Haines is a Ph.D. candidate in geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the Science Museum. She is investigating cartography in British colonial Africa. Her project, Time and territorial value in colonial cartography: Northern Rhodesia, 1913-1955, describes the shift from the age of exploration with compass and sketchpad, to post-war industrial scale instruments, whether radar, plotters, or printers. Her research reconsidering the role of state, and private enterprise in geographical representation of the territory is underpinned by an interest in the effect of technologies on our sense of self and our communities. She received a BA in sculpture from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, Villa Arson Nice, and the Higher Institute of Fine Art, Belgium. She earned a MSc in the history of science at Imperial College.

greta marchesi

Greta Marchesi is completing a Ph.D. in geography at the University of California, Berkeley with an emphasis in Science and Technology Studies. Her work focuses on new forms of knowledge that follow emergent governance regimes. She studies scientific and popular media in tandem with bureaucratic records to ask how transnational science is diversely mobilized in- and informed by- different political contexts. Presently, this work takes the form of two projects: 1) a transnational study of scientific soil conservation programs in Mexico, Colombia, and the United States in the 1930s and 2) an exploration of the global links between social ecology, racial science, and anti-imperialism in the early 20th century. She holds an MA in American Studies from the University of New Mexico with a focus on Native American Studies and Environment, Science, and Technology.

Mseba, Admire

Admire Mseba is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Iowa. Admire holds an MA in African Economic History, a BA Special Honours in Economic History and a BA in Economic History and Archaeology from the University of Zimbabwe. His Ph.D. Dissertation, Beyond Race, State and Nation: Rural Struggles for Land and Power in Northeastern Zimbabwe to 1950, explores the history of competition for land in Zimbabwe from the precolonial through the colonial period. His research interests lie in African agrarian, social and environmental history. Admire’s work focuses on the intersection between power and access to land within and among African households and kinship groups before and during colonial rule as well as intra-European settler conflicts over land in colonial Zimbabwe.

monica salas

Monica Salas-Landa is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University. Her research focuses on the afterlife of documents, artifacts, industrial and monumental structures, substances, and smells that resulted from the post-revolutionary process of state formation in the northern highlands of Veracruz, Mexico. Combining an archival approach with ethnographic research, she examines the ways in which these remnants—and the effects, desires, fears, and expectations, they generate—continue to shape the political experience of those who confront, in the everyday, these residues of violence and revolution. By attending to the agency and affective qualities of state ruins, her project seeks to understand complex processes of rule and governance in this region: their violent accumulations, durable forms, as well as their unpredictable effects in the lives of those who live around them.

Schlichting Photo

Kara Schlichting is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick, NJ. She is scheduled to complete her Ph.D. during the spring of 2014. Kara earned her B.A. in American Studies at Cornell University. Her intellectual interests include urban and regional planning history and the history of technology, environment, and health. Her dissertation examines metropolitan growth in greater New York from the perspective of the urban periphery,focusing on property regimes, leisure patterns, and the collaborative city-building work by grassroots actors and professional planners. Her new project builds on her doctoral research on coastal property development to investigate how legal theory and land politics shape the publicness of American beaches.


Laura Silva-Castañeda is a post-doctoral researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, Science and Society laboratory (INRA-SenS) as a fellow of the Institute for Research Innovation and Society (IFRIS). Following a degree in sociology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and a Msc in Latin American Studies at Oxford University, she completed her PhD in development studies at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium). Her thesis, entitled “Certification dispositifs in the face of land conflicts: the case of the roundtable on sustainable palm oil”, explored the ways in which civil society organizations use certification as an instrument to leverage actors and promote change within local contexts. Some of her conclusions were published in Agriculture and Human Values as an article entitled “A Forest of Evidence”. She also coordinated an edited volume on land grabbing in French with Verhaegen E., Charlier S. and Ansoms A.: “Au-delà de l’accaparement. Ruptures et continuités dans l’accès aux ressources naturelles” (2014, Peter Lang).

yates, julian

Julian Yates is a fourth year doctoral candidate in geography at the University of British Columbia. Broadly, his interests lie in the multi scalar relations between livelihoods and development. Julian spent 14 months conducting ethnographic work in the Southern Andes of Peru, focusing on the historically constituted role of kamayoq – community-based “specialists” in non government organizations using campesino-a-campesino (farmer-to-farmer) technical/agricultural extension programs. His research addresses the trans-scalar politics of development interventions, employing indigenous knowledge and social practices, and has implications for understanding how Andean livelihood organizations can challenge or re-shape prevailing neoliberal forms of development intervention. Julian is a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar. He has published articles in Progress in Human Geography, Global Environmental Change, Environment and Planning A, and the Journal of Development Studies.

Adrien Zakar Adrien Zakar, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Columbia University. His work explores the history of environmental thinking, geographical science and visual technologies in the Middle East through the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of post-imperial polities in the early 20th century. His research interest includes land management, geography and cartography, as well as spiritualism in modern intellectual history. Adrien has a B.A. in International Relations from the Geneva Graduate Institute and a Master’s degree in Arab Studies from Georgetown University.