As an anthropologist I am concerned with the social and cultural aspects of development. My main area of research examines the parameters of social organisation, kinship and exchange in contexts of large-scale resource extraction (mining and oil/gas extraction). I am particularly interested in the implications of the cultural incompatibilities that exist between large-scale, capitalist corporations and small-scale societies. The majority of my work has focused on the social, economic, political and environmental impacts of mining (Ok Tedi) and oil extraction (Kutubu) in Papua New Guinea. I have also conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Guinea, West Africa and managed projects in Zambia.

Research Students:

Dr Daniela Sanchez Lopez – ‘Extractivism, narratives of development and changing modes of governance in Bolivia’. PhD passed May 2018. Congratulations Daniela!!

Ms Jessica Jones – ‘An investigation into the effect of large-scale industrial iron ore mining on women’s gender roles in post-conflict Sierra Leone’

Ms Megan Pay - A Study of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Place on Table Mountain

Dr Horacio Almanza Alcalde – ‘Land Dispossession and Juridical Land Disputes of Indigenous Peoples in Northern Mexico: A Structural Domination Approach’ – PhD passed July 2013 – Congratulations Horacio!

Information for Prospective Students:

I am happy to supervise Masters and PhD students interested in the following topics: anthropology; extractive industries (minerals, energy, metals); CSR; indigenous knowledge; indigenous livelihoods; social impact.

Recommended links:

Editor-in-Chief of Development Studies Research: An Open Access Journal

Development Studies Research
(DSR) is a multidisciplinary journal providing an interdisciplinary platform for original, critical research. The journal aims to broaden understandings of current development studies research, open up new areas of debate, reflect on and advance development theory, identify problems of policy and practice, and present potential solutions and recommendations to the development community, private sector and conservationists. Articles of up to 8,000 words are invited. Special issues focusing on particular topics will be published from time to time.

'From the Horse’s Mouth: perceptions of development from Papua New Guinea'
Testimonial film about oil extraction and mining in Papua New Guinea: As 2 major resource extraction industries face closure (Kutubu oil extraction and Ok Tedi copper/gold mine) in Papua New Guinea, indigenous people and corporate representatives were asked what 'development' and 'sustainable development' meant to them and what they thought the future would bring. View the film

My monograph ‘Development and Industry’ is available here

My edited book (with Gavin Hilson) is available to order here

Consultancy: SEIA

Along with a selective team of researchers I can provide a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment for multinationals seeking to develop mining or other extractive industry in vulnerable locations. Please contact Katharine Trott in DEVCo to request a proposal and budget. 


Before joining the School of International Development in 2010 I did post-doctoral research in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University and was the 2004 RAI Fellow in Urgent Anthropology. Between 2005 and 2010 I was a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University. I was awarded the Higher Education Academy Fellowship in 2009.

Academic Background

I have a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Queensland and a Masters in the Anthropology of Art from UCL.

CV and Experience

Click here to download Emma's CV

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