Mara Goldman
Associate Professor of Geography • Political Ecology; Science and Technology Studies; indigenous knowledge; Nature-Society Relations • Faculty Research Associate of IBS • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006
Human Geography • Environment-Society

Research Interests

I am a feminist political ecologist with a focus on the knowledge politics related to conservation and development interventions. I am particularly interested in exploring the epistemological and ontological questions associated with natural resource management, climate change adaptation, and wildlife conservation. Specific research projects focus on the following overlapping areas: the politics of participation and knowledge regarding natural resource management, conservation practice, and development, particularly among indigenous communities; changing resource governance, knowledge, and ecologies in pastoral communities as related to climate change and institutional changes in semi-arid rangelands; and the gendered dynamics of resource access and use. My dissertation fieldwork involved two and a half years of living with Maasai pastoral communities in between two national parks in northern Tanzania. I conducted in depth ethnographic and ecological field work to understand Maasai ways of knowing and being with wildlife and managing rangeland resources as compared to standard ecological approaches and conservation interventions in the area. I have published this work in both ecology and social science journals and am in the final stages of turning much of the dissertation (plus additional years of research) into a manuscript to be published by the University of Arizona press, Critical Green Engagements Series. This manuscript also draws a great deal from my postdoctoral work, an NSF funded position at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, where I conducted research on “Communication and the Politics of Participation in Pastoral Societies,” among Maasai communities in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.  

I have also conducted NSF funded research specifically on women’s empowerment and land titling in Maasai communities in Tanzania, and the co-production of climate change adaptation knowledge. 

Recent Research

I am currently participating in a large scale interdisciplinary research project out of Lyon France, looking at the various drivers of change in nature-society relations in the agro-pastoral-wildlife landscapes of southern Kenya. 

I also just recently completed a Fulbright Nehru research and teaching fellowship in India where I was affiliated with the Ashoka Trust for Research on Ecology and Environment (ATREE) in Bangalore (Fall 2018). Here I was able to begin a new research project looking at the gendered nature of conservation research and action, particularly as related to the Forest Rights Act and Tiger conservation. Future research will build comparative ties between India and Africa as related to conservation and gender, as well as changing pastoral landscapes, livelihoods, and knowledge, particularly as related to the increasing threat of climate change.

More Info

I am a faculty affiliate of the Women and Gender Studies Program, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Center, and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Behavioral Science (Environment and Society Program and the Program on International Development).

Recent Courses Taught

  • Spring 2021  GEOG 5722   Field Methods in Human Geography
  • Fall 2020  GEOG 1972   Environment-Society Geography
  • Fall 2020  GEOG 6402 Seminar: Political Ecololgy
  • Spring 2020  GEOG 3862 Geography of Africa
  • Fall 2019  GEOG 1972 Environment-Society Geography
  • Spring 2019  GEOG 3862  Geography of Africa
  • Fall 2018  GEOG 1972 Environment-Society Geography
  • Spring 2017  GEOG 3422  Political Ecology

Selected Publications

Goldman, Mara J. 2020. Narrating Nature: Wildlife Conservation and Maasai Ways of KnowingUniversity of Arizona Press, Critical Green Engagements Series.

Goldman, M.J., M. D. Turner, and M. Daly. 2018. A Critical Political Ecology of Human Dimensions of Climate Change: Epistemology, Ontology, and Ethics. Invited advanced review article WIREs Climate Change, 9 (4), e526.
Goldman, M.J. 2018 Circulating Wildlife: Capturing the complexity of wildlife movements in the Tarangire Ecosystem in northern Tanzanian from a mixed method, multiply situated perspective. In R. Lave, C. Biermann, and S. N. Lane (Eds). Handbook of Critical Physical Geography. London: Palgrave.

Davis, A. and M. J. Goldman. (2017). Considerations of trust, livelihoods, and tenure security in community based conservation projects. Oryx, 1-6. doi:10.1017/S0030605317000898

Goldman, M. J., A. Davis, and J. Little. (2016). “Controlling land they call their own: access and women’s empowerment in Northern Tanzania.” Journal of Peasant Studies, 43(4): 777-797.

Goldman, M. J., Daly, M., & Lovell, E. (2015). Exploring multiple ontologies of drought in agro-pastoral regions of Northern Tanzania: a topological approach. Area, DOI: 10.1111/area.12212.

Goldman, M. J. and J. S. Little. (2015). Innovative Grassroots NGOS and the Complex Processes of Women’s Empowerment: An empirical investigation from Northern Tanzania. World Development 66 (2015):762-777.

Goldman, M., J. R. Dephinho, and J. Perry. (2013). Beyond Ritual and Economics: Maasai Lion Hunting and Conservation Politics. Oryx. Published online: 14 May 2013: 1-11. doi:10.1017/S0030605312000907

Goldman, M., and Riosmena, F. (2013). Adaptive Capacity and Vulnerability to Drought in Tanzanian Maasailand: Changing strategies to navigate across fragmented landscapes. Global Environmental Change 23 (2013) 588–597.

Goldman, M.J., P. Nadasdy, and M.D. Turner, eds. (2011). Knowing Nature: Conversations at the intersection of political ecology and science studies. Chicago: University of Chicago University Press .

Goldman, M. (2009). Constructing Connectivity? Conservation corridors and conservation politics in East African rangelands. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 99 (2):335-359 .

Publications updated January 2021