Overview

Growing up and having lived more than 16 years in Brazil, the question of how natural resources shape societies always puzzled me. Historically, Brazil’s economy is characterized by extractivism: as soon as the Portuguese colonizers arrived, they began shipping Paubrasilia (a timber tree commonly known as “Pau-brasil”) back to the old continent. This is how Brazil got its name.

Thereafter, Brazil’s economy became dependent on various single commodities including sugar (16th-18th century), gold (17th and 18th century) or coffee (18th and 19th century). Today, the country figures among the five largest exporters of agricultural products in the world; agribusiness accounts for approximately one fourth of state’s GDP. At the same time, Brazil is traditionally known for its vast social inequalities, corruption and the lack of public services.

Can these and other developmental issues be traced back to resource dependency? Under what structural and contextual conditions are extractive industries particularly likely to promote grievances and social conflict? How can we assure more sustainable forms of resource extraction and strengthen local livelihoods? And how should countries structure agricultural production in order to secure nutritional security under climate change? These are some major questions driving my work.

I also conducted research in the fields of International Relations, interest group politics and religious violence. By clicking through the menu at the top of this page, you can find brief summaries of my major lines of research.