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Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies


Office: P121b Hackman


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 and the Maldives. Specifically, I am engaged in three major research projects that each aim to answer the following 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, poses these questions in the southern Peruvian Andes, where droughts and diminished agricultural prospects have both spurred environmentally conscious development programs and pushed people to seek new mining jobs. A second book project for which I have begun fieldwork, Climate Change Counterpoint, juxtaposes Peru and the Maldives. I inspect the tensions that emerge as highland and island communities consider the tantalizing promises of emissions-intensive expansion, in two countries that are seeing rapid economic growth. My newest project is the F&M Environmental Migration Lab. 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

Office hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 12:30pm - 2:30pm

When NGOs leave 

In the summer of 2017, I began a new fieldwork project on climate change and adaptations rural communities are making as small-scale development priorities change. For Peru, the first step means posing an initial research question: What happens when NGOs leave? I'm specifically looking at small-scale non-governmental organizations that focus on sustainable development in initiatives that last 1-3 years.

A recent blog post offers an opening perspective on a round of focus group interviews I conducted in Peru's Colca Valley.


2018     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)

2018            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.

Honors and Awards 

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