I am an environmental anthropologist whose research focuses on the relationship between environmental change, economic development, and indigenous livelihoods. My work encompasses three broad research projects. My current project, Investing in Indigeneity: Development and the Politics of Abundance in Peru, explores small-scale development initiatives focused on indigenous entrepreneurship and ecological expertise in a network of communities in Andean Peru. This work argues for rethinking the practices and policies of sustainable development in a country that has been reshaped by a mining boom since the 1990s. Do NGO-driven projects identified as "sustainable" have anything in common with Peru's large-scale extractive development? I suggest that these are fundamentally linked. Development is best defined not as a way to alleviate poverty, but as a concept that roots a deeper effort to unleash a nation's resource abundance.
A second book project I have initiated is tentatively titled After Development: Climate Change and the New Frontiers of Sustainability. That book will examine the local implications of global climate change for indigenous communities in the highlands of Latin America and islands of South Asia.
This year at F&M, I am also launching the Environmental Migration Lab, a collaborative, student-driven project. We are pairing migrant life histories with mapping tools to follow the journeys people take when they migrate due to environmental change. Our initial focus is migrants and refugees in Lancaster, PA, recently deemed "America's refugee capital." We will have a website up soon. If you are an F&M student and interested in contributing to this project, please send me an email.
I completed my Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Chicago, and spent last year as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Governance at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development.
In press Hirsch, Eric. Remapping the Vertical Archipelago: Mobility, Migration, and the Everyday Labor of Andean Development. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.
2017 Hirsch, Eric. Investment’s Rituals: “Grassroots” Extractivism and the Making of an Indigenous Gold Mine in the Peruvian Andes. (Theme 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. (Theme Issue: Culture, Power, Degrowth).
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.
B.A. Columbia University, 2009 - Anthropology and English
M.A. University of Chicago, 2012 - Anthropology
Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2016 - Anthropology