Welcome to the Anthropology Department

alt(Ph.D, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1999, Professor, SAS, Anthropology Dept.)  Environmental anthropology, race, whiteness, landscape, conservation, oil, climate change, the Caribbean; Southern Africa.  dhughes@aesop.rutgers.edu

I began my career by investigating processes whereby land became an object of colonial and racial conflict and identity in Southern Africa.  These struggles pitted natives against colonial settlers, and claims of having originated on the land against claims of having improved it.  Conquerors and the conquered fought over nature and over its definition.  This frontier formation lingers on, but political and environmental shifts are rapidly superseding it.  I am now asking: How should one relate to landscapes and environments after colonialism and under climate change?  In the “anthropocene” of artificial nature and widespread risk, what new environmental movements and sensibilities are taking shape?  And – to the small extent that my writing influences events – what ideals should lead us from or through the looming catastrophe?  Based on research in Trinidad and Tobago, I am writing a book manuscript entitled “Ordinary oil: energy, climate change, and the silence of complicity.”  Ultimately, I hope to articulate new forms of justice deeply compromised by the imperative to survive.

pdf Link to My Biosketch

Link to My New Book, Whiteness in Zimbabwe

Link to From Enslavement to Environmentalism


Whiteness in Zimbabwe: Race, Landscape, and the Problem of Belonging From Enslavement to Environmentalism: Politics on a Southern African Frontier (Culture, Place, and Nature)



Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 2007- (appointed as Assistant Professor in 2000).
Director, Center for African Studies, Rutgers University.
Graduate Faculty Member, Departments of Geography, Rutgers University.

pdf Link to My CV



Ph.D, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1999.
Non-degree coursework, Biological Resources Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, 2004.
Master of Arts Degree, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1991.
Bachelor of Arts Degree, Political Science with African Studies, High Honors, Princeton University, 1989.


Selected Grants and Fellowships

Mellon Foundation, New Directions fellowship (with supplement), 2004-2010.
US Agency for International Development, principal investigator for Zimbabwe land reform portion of Broadening Access and Sustainable Input Market Systems (BASIS, a Collaborative Research Support Program administered by the Land Tenure Center, Univ. of Wisconsin), 2000-2003.
Social Science Research Council - MacArthur Foundation, Program on International Peace and Security, International/Non-Governmental Organization post-doctoral fellowship, 1999-2000.


Selected Publications

Hughes, D.M. 2006a. From Enslavement to Environmentalism: Politics on a Southern African Frontier. Seattle: University of Washington Press and Harare: Weaver Press.  The Ford Foundation and Rutgers University have provided subventions.
Hughes, D.M. 2006b. “Hydrology of hope: farm dams, conservation, and whiteness in Zimbabwe.” American Ethnologist 33(2):269-87.
Hughes, D.M. 2006c. “Whites and water: how Euro-Africans made nature at Kariba Dam.” Journal of Southern African Studies 32(4):823-38.
Hughes, D.M. 2005. “Third nature: making space and time in the Great Limpopo conservation area.”  Cultural Anthropology 20(2):157-84.
Hughes, D.M. 2001a. “Cadastral politics: the making of community-based resource management in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.” Development and Change 32:741-68.
Hughes, D.M. 2001b. “Rezoned for business: how eco-tourism unlocked black farmland in eastern Zimbabwe.” Journal of Agrarian Change 1(4):575-99.
Hughes, D.M. 2001c. “Water as a boundary: national parks, rivers, and the politics of demarcation in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe.”  In Helen Ingram and Joachim Blatter, eds. Reflections on Water: New Approaches to Transboundary Conflicts and Cooperation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Pp. 267-94.
Hughes, D.M. 1999. "Refugees and squatters: immigration and territorial politics on the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border."  Journal of Southern African Studies 25(4):533-52.


Selected Presentations

“Fear and loathing on Zimbabwe’s white highlands.” Presented to the “Political economies of displacement in Zimbabwe” conference, Wits Univ., Johannesburg, 9-11 June 2008.
“Requiem for the Zambezi Valley?: conservation under climate change,” White Oak Workshop, Wildlife Conservation Society, 4-7 June 2008.
“Playing the game: Zimbabwe’s white farmers under occupation.” Program on African Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 5 March 2008.
“From exploration to tourism: how conservationists appropriated the Zambezi Valley.” Presented to the Conservation and the Politics of Knowledge Workshop, University of Georgia, 6-8 November 2007.
“The politics of being white: land ownership and dispossession on Zimbabwe’s highveld.” Presented to the Political Economies of Displacement in post-2000 Zimbabwe workshop, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, 24-25 September 2007.
“Making Tonga marginal (again): literature, leisure, and exclusion at Lake Kariba.” Presented to “Forty years of working with marginalised communities in Zimbabwe” workshop in honor of Marshall Murphree, Vumba, Zimbabwe, 22-24 May 2007.
“White identity and implicated nature: the making of conservation in highland Africa,” Agrarian Studies Program, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 6 October 2006.
“Governance without guarantees: rights, markets, and conservation in Zimbabwe,” World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, 12 September 2006.
“’The native question’ from colonialism to Campfire,” World Wide Fund for Nature, Harare, 17 May 2006.
“’Water wilderness’: the redemption of environmental ruin at Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe,” East African Wildlife Society, Nairobi, Kenya, 11 May 2006.
“Hydrology of hope: farm dams, conservation, and whiteness in Zimbabwe.” Association of American Geographers annual meeting, Chicago, 7-11 March 2006.


Selected External Service

IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (Working Groups on Collaborative Management and Sustainable Livelihoods), 2003-
Peer Reviewer, Diagnostic Research Project on Community Based Natural Resources Management, University of Natal, South Africa, 2003-2004.
Peer Reviewer, Institutions and Governance Program, World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C., 2000-2002.

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