Political Ecology, Environmental History, Urban and Regional Change (Indian Ocean region)
I am a geographer interested in the way plants have been moved around by people and how these activities transform landscapes over time. My research usually focuses on ordinary people and tries to understand what motivates them to move plants to new places, how they manage these in their farms, pastures and gardens, and gradually change the larger landscapes of their everyday life. This kind of analysis brings together a wide range of methods from history, political economy and ecology, biogeography and regional development.
The Indian Ocean is the geographical and historical frame for my research. Over the past decade, I’ve worked with colleagues on the transfer of acacia species between Australia, India, South Africa, and Madagascar; and the precolonial arrival of baobabs and mimosa bush across the Indian Ocean to Australia. We are currently working on a comparative project that looks at how indigenous communities in parts of northern Australia, western India, eastern South Africa, and eastern Madagascar think about weeds in their landscapes. All of these projects have been funded by the Australian Research Council.