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  Andrew S Mathews

Andrew S Mathews




831-459-5900 (Fax)


he, him, his, his, himself

Social Sciences Division

Anthropology Department



Latin American & Latino Studies
Environmental Studies Department
Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas

Regular Faculty

Social Sciences 1

Friday 1:00-5:00

Social Sciences 1 Faculty Services

I hold a Ph.D. in Environmental Anthropology from the Yale School of Forestry/Yale Anthropology department (2004), a Masters in Forestry from Oxford University (1996), and a BSc. in Physics and Philosophy from the University of Leeds (1991)

My research focuses on the culture of environmental institutions and the links between local communities and national and global levels of power and knowledge. I recently completing a book on conservation and forest management in Mexico: "Instituting Nature: Authority, Expertise and Power in Mexican Forests, 1926-2001", MIT Press 2011".This book focuses on the history and culture of state forestry institutions and of indigenous forest communities in the state of Oaxaca. In this book I combine theories of statemaking with science and technology studies to argue that the production and management of ignorance are as important as knowledge to the assertion of state power.

My second book, "Trees Are Shape Shifters: How Cultivation, Climate Change, and Disaster Create Landscapes",  Yale, 2022, studied the historical ecology, natural history, and climate politics of Italian forests. In Italy, as in most industrialized countries forests have been reimagined as a source of sustainable energy produced in biomass electricity plants. Italy has important lessons for our efforts to confront our contemporary environmental predicament, the era that many people are calling the anthropocene, where most ecosystems around the world have been profoundly affected by human activities. In the Mediterranean, and in Italy in particular, people have been shaping soils, terraces, drainage systems, and trees for several thousand years. We know that climate change is likely to bring more intense climate events: floods, droughts, landslides, and forest fires. Because Mediterranean ecosystems have evolved to cope with dramatically variable climate, powerful disturbances, and intense human modification they are good places to learn about climate change and the anthropocene. We can learn hopeful and warning stories from this experience and we can also learn how climate change is experienced and acted upon in a landscape that is deeply anthropogenic.

In addition to my concern with human/environment relations, I have research and teaching interests in anthropology of bureaucracy and financial markets, anthropology of law and illegality, political ecology, environmental history, landscape history and visual representations of nature, sociology of knowledge, science and technology studies and state building.


(2022) “Trees are Shape Shifters: How Climate Change, Cultivation and Disaster Create Landscapes”, Yale University Press.

(2011) “Instituting Nature: Authority, Expertise and Power in Mexican Forests”. MIT      Press. 


Edited Special Journal Numbers

(2019) Bubandt, Nils, A. S. Mathews and A. Tsing. "Patchy Anthropocene: Frenzies and

            Afterlives of Violent Simplifications." Current Anthropology 60 (August): S183-S353.


Single Authored Journal Articles or Book Chapters

(2023) Walking in Italian Forests and Telling Stories About Global Environmental Change. Rubber Boots Methods for the Anthropocene: Curiosity, Collaboration and Critical Description in Multispecies Ethnography. Nils Bubandt, Astrid Oberbeck Andersen and Rachel Cypher. Minnesota, University of Minnesota Press.

(2021) "Wildfires and Ghosts: Pathogen Epidemics and Agricultural Abandonment in Italy." Cultural Anthropology.

             Hot Spots, Fieldsights, July 19.

(2020) Anthropology and the Anthropocene: Criticisms, Experiments, and Collaborations.         

          Annual Review of Anthropology 49:67-82.

(2020) “The Echoes of Exotic Diseases are Visible in Italian Forests, if We Know how to Look for Them.” Feral Atlas: The           

           More-than-Human Anthropocene. Edited by A.   Tsing, J. Deger, A. Keleman and F. Zhou. Redwood City,

           Stanford Digital Projects - Stanford University Press.(2019) "Ghostly Forest Histories.” In Fields in Fields


(2019) Coming into Noticing: on Being Called to Account by Ancient Trees. Intertwined

Histories: Plants in Their Social Contexts. J. Ellis. Calgary, University of Calgary Press:


(2018) "Landscapes and Throughscapes in Italian Chestnut Worlds: Thinking Dramatically About the Anthropocene." Cultural Anthropology 33 (3 August):386-414.

(2017) “Ghostly forms and forest histories.” In Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Elaine Gan, and Heather Anne Swanson ed: University of Minnesota Press

(2015) Imagining Forest Futures and Climate Change: the Mexican State as Insurance Broker and Story Teller. In Climate Change and Anthropology. M. Dove and J. Barnes, eds. Pp. 199-220. Yale University Press.

(2014) “Scandals, Audits and Fictions: Linking Climate Change to Mexican Forests.” Social Studies of Science (online before print, published June 12, 2013).

(2010) Book Chapter: “Who Speaks for the Trees and the Rain? State Science, Nature Spirits, and Indigenous People in Mexico, 1926–2008.” [Edited Volume from SAR Seminar on Science, Nature and Religion]. Santa Fe, New Mexico. School of Advanced Research Press.

(2009) "Unlikely Alliances: Encounters Between State Science, Nature Spirits, and Indigenous    Industrial Forestry in Mexico, 1926 -2008." Current Anthropology 50(1): 75-101.

(2008) "Statemaking, Knowledge and Ignorance: Translation and Concealment in             Mexican Forestry Institutions." American Anthropologist. 110(4): 484-494.

(2006) "Building the Town in the Country: Official Understandings of Fire, Logging and Biodiversity in Oaxaca, Mexico, 1926-2004." Social Anthropology 14(3). 335–      359.

(2006). “Ignorancia, Conocimiento y Poder: el Corte de la Madera, el Tráfico Ilegal y las Políticas Forestales en México.” Desacatos 21,(mayo-agosto), 135-160.

(2005) "Power/Knowledge, Power/Ignorance: Forest Fires and the State in Mexico."         Human Ecology 33 (6) 795-820.

(2003) “Suppressing Fire and Memory: Environmental Degradation and Political Restoration in the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca, 1887-2001.” Environmental History 8        (1): 77-108.

(2002) “Mexican Forest history: Ideologies of State Building and Resource Use.” 

            Journal of Sustainable Forestry 15(1): 19-30.





Co-Authored Journal Articles

Swanson, H. A., J.-C. Svenning, A. Saxena, R. Muscarella, J. Franklin, M. Garbelotto, 

            A. S. Mathews, O. Saito, A. E. Schnitzler, J. M. Serra-Diaz and A. L. Tsing 

(2021) “History as grounds for interdisciplinarity: promoting sustainable woodlands via   an integrative ecological and socio-cultural perspective." 

            One Earth 4(2): 226-237.

Casazza, G., F. Malfatti, M. Brunetti, V. Simonetti and A. S. Mathews       

(2021) "Interactions between Land Use, Pathogens, and Climate Change in the Monte Pisano, Italy 1850-2000." 

            Landscape Ecology 36(2): 601-616.

Tsing, Anna L., Andrew S. Mathews and Nils. Bubandt 

(2019) Patchy Anthropocene: Landscape Structure, Multispecies History, and the Retooling of  Anthropology:

            An Introduction to Supplement 20." Current Anthropology: S186-197

Mathews, Andrew S., and Jessica Barnes

(2016) Prognosis: Visions of Environmental Futures. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. S1: 9-26.

Myanna Lahsen, Andrew S. Mathews et. al.

(2015) Strategies for changing the intellectual climate. Nature Climate Change 5 (May):391-392.

Michael Dove, Jessica Barnes, Andrew Mathews et. al.

(2013) Anthropology’s Contribution to the Study of Climate Change. Nature Climate Change      3:541-544.


Book Reviews, Co-Authored Book Chapters and Other Writings

(2015) Review of "Cultural Forests of the Amazon: A Historical Ecology of People and Their Landscapes by William Balee.". American Anthropologist 117(1):176-177.

(2013) Commentary on "Governing Future Potential Biothreats: Toward an Anthropology of Uncertainty." by Limor Samimian-Darash. Current Anthropology no. 54 (1):1-22. 

(2009) Commentary on "When Is Housing an Environmental Problem? Reforming Informality in Kathmandu", by Anne Rademacher." Current Anthropology 50(4):.

(2008) Dove, M. R., A.S. Mathews, K. Maxwell, J. Padwe, A. Rademacher (2008). The Concept of Human Agency in

            Contemporary Conservation and Development Discourse. Against the Grain: The Vayda Tradition in Human Ecology and

           Ecological Anthropology. B. J.    M. Bradley B. Walters, Paige West, Susan Lees. Walnut Creek (CA), Altamira Press.

(2006) Mathews, A. S. Book Review of "Fields of Power, Forests of Discontent: Culture,Conservation and the State in Mexico. 

           by Nora Haenn". Journal of Latin American Anthropology 11(1): 226-228.

(2006) Dove, Michael R., M. Campos, A.S. Mathews, et. al. "Revisiting the Concept of Western Versus Non-Western

           Environmental Knowledge."  In Local Science Vs.    Global Science: Approaches to Indigenous Knowledge in

           International Development ed. Paul Sillitoe. Oxford, Berghahn Press.

(2003) Dove, Michael R., M. Campos, A.S. Mathews, et. al. "The Global Mobilization of Environmental Concepts:

           Problematizing the Western/Non Western divide."  In Nature across cultures: Non-Western views of the

           environment and nature.ed.Helaine Selin.  Kluwer, Dordrecht.

ANTH 130J Statemaking in Latin America
ANTH 194U Senior Seminar in Environmental Anthropology
ANTH 160 States, Bureaucracies and Other Cosmological Propositions
ANTH 4 Communicating Anthropology
ANTH 233 Politics of Nature

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