joe bryan photo
Associate Professor of Geography • Indigenous Politics in the Americas; Human Rights; and Critical Cartography. • Ph.D. University of California Berkeley, 2007
Human Geography

Research Interests

My work focuses on the politics of indigeneity in the Americas, with particular attention to questions of land, territory, and rights. In the past, I have developed these interests through research on titling and demarcation of indigenous lands in eastern Nicaragua. I have recently shifted my work to Oaxaca, Mexico. This work is broadly informed by my longer involvement with indigenous rights, as both an advocate and a researcher, in Ecuador, Chile, Honduras, and the western United States. Much of that work further engages with the diversity of mapping practices used to advocate for recognition of indigenous land rights. 


Current Research

I am currently at work on a new project on the contemporary politics of indigeneity in Oaxaca, Mexico. This project has three components. The first involves a critical engagement with the concept of territory that works through research on community radio projects across Oaxaca. Communities conceive of radio, and the space that it activates and enlivens, as part of their territory. This effort builds on longer histories of struggle over land and resources, while at the same time extending the idea of territory in new dimensions that ground efforts to rethink territory. A second component of this project considers the experiences of indigenous rights activists who have held positions in the Oaxacan state government in recent years. A third component is comprised of ongoing collaboration with community intellectuals reflecting on and writing about the politics of indigeneity with respect to the pressing political challenges they face in Mexico. 


More Info

I am a faculty affiliate of the CU Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies and the Latin American Studies Center. I am also a research affiliate at Servicios Universitarios y Redes de Oaxaca (SURCO)


Recent Courses Taught

Spring 2016 GEOG 3812 (3) Geography of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
Fall 2017 GEOG 4812 (3) Environment and Development in Latin America
Spring 2018 GEOG 5662 (3) Topics in Economic Geography


Awards and Honors

  • Outstanding Graduate Mentor, CU Graduate School, 2016.
  • Boulder Faculty Assembly Faculty Recognition Award, Service, 2014.

Recent Publications

Bryan, J. 2018. "Trust Us: Nicaragua, Iran-Contra, and the Conspiracies of Empire," in Collins, J and McGranahan, C, eds., Ethnographies of Empire, Duke University Press, Durham, NC.

Bryan, J. 2017. "Oil, indigeneity, and dispossession," in Chari, S, et al., eds., Other geographies: The influences of Michael Watts, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, MA.

Bryan, J. and Wood, D. 2015 Weaponizing maps: indigenous peoples and counterinsurgency in the Americas. Guilford Press, New York.

Bryan, J. 2015. "War without end? Military humanitarianism and the limits of biopolitical approaches to security in Central America and the Caribbean", Political Geography, 47:33-42. 

Bryan, J. 2012 "Rethinking territory: making sense of Latin America's territorial turn", Geography Compass 6(4): 215-226.

Bryan, J. 2011. "Walking the line: participatory mapping, indigenous rights, and neoliberalism", Geoforum, 42(1): 24-32.

Wainwright, J. and Bryan, J. 2009 "Cartography, territory, property: postcolonial reflections on indigenous counter-mapping in Nicaragua and Belize", Cultural Geographies, 16:153-177.

Updated March 2018