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 • Director, IBS Environment and Society Program
Human Geography • Environment-Society

Mara J. Goldman is an associate professor in the Department of Geography, a faculty fellow in the Institute for Behavioral Sciences, and an affiliate faculty in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She received her PhD in 2006 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (geography) and holds an MS in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development also from UW-Madison (2001) as well as an MA in Geography from the University of California Los Angeles (1998). She was a post-doctoral fellow at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, where she conducted research on “Communication and the Politics of Participation in Pastoral Societies,” among Maasai communities in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.

Dr. Goldman’s research is situated in human-environment geography and can best be described as political ecology with specific attention to knowledge politics as related to conservation and development interventions. She draws on a combined feminist political ecology and science studies perspectives. Specific research projects focus on the following overlapping areas: the politics of wildlife conservation (knowledge and practice); the politics of participation and knowledge regarding rangeland management, conservation practice, and development; 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. She has worked for over two decades in East Africa, specifically with pastoral/agro-pastoral Maasai communities in Tanzania and Kenya and has recently begun to expand her research to include comparative work with forest-dwelling tribal communities in India. Her book, Narrating Nature: Wildlife conservation and Maasai ways of knowing, was published by the University Arizona Press, Critical Green Engagements Series in 2020. She is also co-editor (with P. Nadasdy, and M.D. Turner), of Knowing nature: Conversations at the intersection of political ecology and science studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011, and has also published widely in Geography and conservation and development journals.

Current projects include a large-scale collaborative research project with scholars and co-researchers across Europe, Asia, and Africa on the effects of Covid-19 on dryland communities broadly, and on community conservation efforts in particular. She is also looking at what it means to decolonize conservation in different places around the world, from East Africa to Asia, Canada and the US. 

Recent Courses Taught

  • Spring 2023  GEOG 5722   Field Methods in Human Geograph
  • Fall 2022  GEOG 1972  Environment-Society Geography
  • 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

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 .

Updated September 2021