I am an environmental anthropologist whose research focuses on the relationship between environmental change, economic development, and indigenous livelihoods. My scholarship uses ethnography to understand the role that climate change plays in everyday life in Peru, Latin America, and several other sites seeing significant climate impacts. Specifically, I am engaged in three major research projects that each aim to answer the following big question: How does the global phenomenon of climate change frame local concepts of territorial attachment as communities face key decisions about development? My current book project, Investing in Indigeneity, is an ethnography of growth in the southern Peruvian Andes against the backdrop of droughts and diminished agricultural prospects. There, I inspect the ways indigenous livelihoods, traditions, and expertise are emerging as an object of promise and a potential source of growth for development projects and mining companies.
A second major research project for which I have begun fieldwork will build on preliminary research I have conducted in Peru into local responses to the impacts of climate change. Across a series of articles and a future book project, I inspect the tensions that emerge as national leaders and marginalized communities consider the tantalizing promises of emissions-intensive expansion and, simultaneously, the need to address climate change. My work also occasionally draws on comparative field research on climate change I have conducted in the Maldives. My newest research project is the F&M Environmental Migration Lab. Involving work in the community of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, it engages students in digitally mapping narratives of migration from people who have come to the US due at least in part to the impacts of climate change.
I completed my Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Chicago. Before coming to F&M I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Governance at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development.
You can learn more about my research and see images from my fieldwork on my website. My CV is attached here:
I have recently joined Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts, a project based out of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona's Institute for Environmental Science and Technology and funded by the European Research Council. This is a project engaged in tracking how indigenous and local communities observe, understand, and respond to climate change in their specific contexts. I am one of 40 researchers compiling non-Western scientific data from a broad array of the world's most climate-affected regions.
In the summer of 2017, part of my fieldwork on climate change and adaptations rural communities are making as small-scale development priorities change meant organizing two local workshops to understand the impact that development projects had two years after their departure, with the support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation Engaged Anthropology Grant. A recent blog post offers an opening perspective on those workshops.
In press Hirsch, Eric, Chelsey Kivland, and Yana Stainova (equal co-authorship). “Arts of Exposure: The Performative Politics of Ethnoracial Self-Representation in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Introduction to “Arts of Exposure,” Special Issue of Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies.
In press Hirsch, Eric. “Hidden Treasures: Marca Perú (PeruTM) and the Recoding of Neoliberal Sustainability in the Peruvian Andes.” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies.
In press Hirsch, Eric. “Sustainable Development.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology, edited by Mark Aldenderfer. New York: Oxford University Press.
In press Hirsch, Eric. “Ethnicity as Potential: Abundance, Competition, and the Limits of Development in Andean Peru’s Colca Valley.” Chapter in Ethnicity, Commodity, In/Corporation, edited by George Paul Meiu, Jean Comaroff, and John L. Comaroff. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
2020 Vaccaro, Ismael, Eric Hirsch, and Irene Sabaté. The Emergence of the Global Debt Society: Governmentality and Profit Extraction through Fabricated Abundance and Imposed Scarcity in Peru and Spain. Focaal. Vol. 87. 46-60.
2019 Hirsch, Eric and Kyle Jones. Hip Hop and Guinea Pigs: Contextualizing the Urban Andes. Chapter in The Andean World, edited by Linda Seligmann and Kathleen Fine-Dare. London: Routledge. (Series: Routledge Worlds)
2019. Devore, Jonathan, Eric Hirsch, and Susan Paulson. “Conserving Human and Other Nature: A Curious Case of Convivial Conservation from Brazil.” Anthropologie et Sociétés.
2018 Hirsch, Eric. Remapping the Vertical Archipelago: Mobility, Migration, and the Everyday Labor of Andean Development. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology Vol. 23, No. 1. 189-208.
2017 Hirsch, Eric. Investment’s Rituals: “Grassroots” Extractivism and the Making of an Indigenous Gold Mine in the Peruvian Andes. (Special Issue: Rendering Land Investable). Geoforum Vol. 82. 259-267.
2017 Hirsch, Eric. The Unit of Resilience: Degrowth and the Politics of Development in Peru and the Maldives. Journal of Political Ecology. (Special Issue: Culture, Power, Degrowth). Vol. 24. 462-475
2016 Hirsch, Eric. Mediating Indigeneity: Public Space and the Making of Political Identity in Andean Peru. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review. Vol. 39, No 1. 95-109.
2015 Hirsch, Eric. “It won’t be any good to have democracy if we don’t have a country”: Climate change and the politics of synecdoche in the Maldives. Global Environmental Change Vol. 35. 190-198.
2019-20 European Research Council Project on "Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts" - Project Partner for Peruvian Andes
2019 Winter Visual Arts Center Cross-Pollinator Residency, Franklin & Marshall College
2019 Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster - Seed Grant for engaged public anthropology research on environmental migration
2017 Wenner-Gren Foundation Engaged Anthropology Grant
2017 Lichtstern Distinguished Dissertation Prize for Best Ph.D. Thesis in Anthropology, University of Chicago
2016 Wayne C. Booth Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Office of the Provost, University of Chicago
2016-17 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Global Governance, Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University
2016 Ignacio Martín Baró Prize Lectureship in Latin American Studies and Human Rights, University of Chicago
2015 Mellon Foundation - Hanna Holborn Gray Advanced Fellowship in the Humanistic Social Sciences, University of Chicago
2014 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship
2013 Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
2013 Inter-American Foundation Grassroots Development Fellowship
2013 UC Irvine Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion Research Grant
B.A. Columbia University, 2009 - Anthropology and English
M.A. University of Chicago, 2012 - Anthropology
Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2016 - Anthropology