Jamie is an environmental geographer whose research examines the production of environmental knowledge, and how this knowledge comes to shape the world around us. He focuses on powerful understandings of nature and their consequences for human and nonhuman life across different spatial scales. Past projects have examined human relations with a range of organisms - from elephants to hookworms - and policy domains - including conservation, health and agriculture. He combines concepts and approaches from more-than-human geography with those from science studies, using ethnographic, participatory and historical methods. His research has been funded by the ESRC, The British Academy and the Wellcome Trust, amongst other sources.
Jamie joined the School of Geography and the Environment in October 2012. He has a BSc (Hons, first class) and PhD from the University of Bristol. His PhD and subsequent post-doctoral fellowships at Oxford (2005-7) were funded by the ESRC. Prior to returning to Oxford, he lectured for four years at Kings College London.
Jamie's current research spans four broad and connected areas:
The histories, cultures and politics of wildlife conservation
Jamie's early work examined the role of 'nonhuman charisma' in shaping the scope, ethics and political economy of nature conservation. He traced how some species are favoured in conservation science and management and explored the ecological and political implications of these partialities in the UK and in South Asia. He also examined spatial preferences in conservation, mapping and analysing the neglect of urban and post-industrial areas.
Subsequent work critically examined the rise of rewilding as a new mode of nature conservation, noting the shift from a focus on rare species to ecological processes and landscape connections. Jamie traced the histories of rewilding and its experimental practices, as well as its biopolitical and geopolitical implications for the management of human and nonhuman lives. He drew these interests together in his first monograph, which was entitled Wildlife in the Anthropocene. This book examines conservation after the end of the modern understanding of Nature: as cut off from Society and revealed by objective Natural Science. It provides a new framework that grounds conservation in unruly and hybrid ecologies, which locates the scientific and economic decision making of conservation in its cultural and political contexts, and advocates a novel approach to multispecies conviviality.
The governance of the microbiome and human health
In his work on rewilding Jamie tracked the traffic of ecological metaphors from conservation biology into the emerging sciences of microbial ecology and ecoimmunology. Following these leads he shifted scales to focus on the microbiome, following a range of scientific and citizen experiments in microbiome restoration. In different ways, Jamie's research subjects are turning to microbiology to understand the pathological consequences of the loss of microbial diversity, the rise of microbial 'dysbiosis', and the emergence of new pathogens. They are (re)introducing microbes to manage ecologies and to secure health. He has mapped a relational and deeply unequal geography of microbial health, in which disease emerges from both microbial excess and microbial absence.
To enable this research, Jamie developed (with colleagues) an interdisciplinary and participatory methodology for engaging publics with the microbiome. In the Good Germs project, we collaborated with a group of households in Oxford to take the technologies of next generation sequencing out of the laboratory to help people visualize their domestic microbiome and to conduct their own domestic hygiene experiments.
Jamie has drawn this work together in his second monograph, entitled The Probiotic Planet: Using life to manage life. It combines his interests in rewilding, the microbiome and biome restoration to interrogate the new alliances with Gaian science made by prominent social theorists like Donna Haraway, Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour. It argues that a probiotic turn is underway in the management of life across a range of scales and policy domains. Scientists and policy makers are using life to manage life: reintroducing species and ecological processes to address the problems caused by the excessive application of antibiotic approaches.
In the last fifteen years Jamie has published a series of papers with colleagues and PhD students developing the sub-disciplinary field of animals' geographies. This work takes animals seriously as geographical actors, exploring how they make and inhabit places. We have outlined and deployed methodologies for attending to the lived experiences of animals, and for witnessing and evoking animals' worlds. We have explored how key concepts from human geography (like atmospheres, mobilities, territories and the urban) enable novel analyses of animals' worlds, and how attending to animals themselves offers new insights for human geography.
Livestock and the rise of plant-based eating
Since 2018 Jamie has been leading a work package in the Oxford Livestock, Environment and People project. In collaboration with Tara Garnett and several postdoctoral researchers, he has been critically examining the rise of plant-based eating in Europe and North America: tracing the emergence of Big Vegan. This project critically examines the promises and potential of plant-based eating, tracing the political economic implications of the growing shift towards meat and dairy alternatives. We draw together work on alternative food networks with insights from vegan geographies to develop a new framework for social science research on enabling just food transitions.
Jamie lectures on the Prelims 'Human Geography' course, the Final Honour School 'Environmental Geography' foundation course. Jamie convenes an FHS option with Beth Greenhough, 'Geographies for the Anthropocene, based on their research.
At Hertford College, Jamie and his colleagues are responsible for teaching students across the entire breadth of geographical topics for the Preliminary Examination and Final Honour School of Geography.
Jamie is the Director of Graduate Studies for the School MSc programmes. He was formally the Academic Director for the MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance course. He convenes and teaches on the 'Nature and Society' core course for this MSc. Jamie also co-teaches a module on 'Conservation and Society' on the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management.
Jamie welcomes enquiries from individuals wishing to undertake doctoral or post-doctoral research in the four research areas outlined above, or related topics including: the histories, geographies, cultures and politics of wildlife conservation, including rewilding; animal geographies; the social dimensions of the microbiome, sustainable transitions in food and agriculture. Jamie and Beth Greenhough run the More-Than-Human Geographies reading group and seminar series.
Current Graduate Research Students
Locating the Rural Community in Nature and the Nation: Exploring spatial politics of national parks and national identities
Endless Convivial Experiments: Domestication and the microbiogeography of hybrid fermentation practices
|Oscar Hartman Davies|
Environmental sentinels and the more-than-human practices and politics of sensing the European and North American Arctic
Atmosphere as a means of governing life: weather modification and ecological conservation in Sanjiangyuan, China
Elephant Time: Multi-Temporality as Attunement with More-Than-Human Others
Contesting the wild: nature, rewilding, conservationists and local communities in a changing Europe
Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2012)
Completed DPhil in 2020
India's sacred and mundane cattle: gods, hybrid-beasts and scavengers
Completed DPhil in 2019
Governing the ungovernable: investigating the geopolitics of volcano hazard management on Iceland's South Coast
Completed DPhil in 2016
Finding time in the geographies of food: how heritage food discourses shape notions of place
|Myung-Ae (Chloe) Choi|
Completed DPhil in 2015
Governing Deceleration: the natures, times and spaces of ecotourism in South Korea
Completed DPhil in 2015
Enacting connectivity: woodland mammal conservation practices in England and Wales