Jessica DiCarlo
Ph.D. Candidate of Geography • MA, University of California Berkeley 2016 • BA, Pepperdine University, 2008 • critical development studies • political ecology • anthropology of infrastructure • political geography • China • Laos • Faculty Advisor: Emily Yeh


I graduate with my PhD Summer 2021. I am interested in academia.

I study under the supervision of Emily Yeh and completed my masters in Development Studies at the University of California Berkeley. In 2019, I was a visiting Global China Initiative fellow at Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center. My dissertation draws on 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Laos and examines the construction and planning of the Laos-China Railway and related economic zones to ground global China in ways that pay closer attention to complex host contexts. I am interested in connecting large-scale projects and processes with the environments and lives that sustain them. I situate my research in critical development studies, political ecology, political geography, and critical infrastructure studies. My regional expertise is centered in China, where I have worked in Yunnan, Liaoning, Tibetan regions, as well as Beijing and Shanghai since 2008. My interest in Chinese borderlands led to research in Nepal, India and Laos. My past research experiences span development, disasters, agrarian change, public health, and rural livelihoods, and rely on extensive fieldwork in these regions. 

I am seeking postdoctoral fellowships and tenure track faculty positions. I enjoy working within collaborative and trans-disciplinary teams and have done so on a UC Berkeley-University of Bergen group researching post-disaster socioecological transitions, as an affiliated researcher at the University of Bern’s Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) in Laos, and as a foreign research on the Silk Road Environment Program within the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resource Research (IGSNRR) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. I am currently a collaborator in the Swiss National Science Foundation funded project “Roadwork: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders” at the University of Zurich.

An avid outdoors-woman, I practice yoga and enjoy running, cycling, and climbing long distances