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Personal profile

Research interests

As a political ecologist and development geographer, my research lies at the intersection of the politics of indigenous knowledge, adult education, rural development, and environmental governance. Through my research I maintain a commitment to fostering more equitable and self-determined forms of development. My current research focuses on a multi-sited study of Indigenous knowledges, education, and leadership in environmental governance and rural development. 

Previous research projects and ongoing interests include:

1. Neoliberalization and the politics of ecological knowledge-in-practice: My research in Nepal and Peru, in particular, explored how (post)neoliberal re-structuring intersects with existing institutions for development. This work stressed the intersections between established development interventions and the articulation of situated ecological knowledges in practice (e.g. by re-orienting peer-to-peer farmer training around indigenous knowledge systems).

2. Re-socializing the economy – collective organization and the commons: I am interested in processes of re-socializing and re-democratizing neoliberal development. I have explored this theme in Brazil and Peru, working with informal recyclers cooperatives, rural producers cooperatives, and associations of indigenous knowledge distributors. This work focuses on the potential and challenges of collective and co-operative organization. This aspect also explores the role of peer-to-peer knowledge transfer and education in supporting collective approaches to environmental problems.

3. Indigenous leadership in water governance – towards sovereignty: Research in Nepal, Canada, and Australia focus on the uneven politics of governing water, and how Indigenous knowledges, training networks, and existing environmental management practices can re-shape future landscapes of environmental decision-making.

Methodologically, I have approached these themes through community-engaged scholarship, meaning that my work addresses the ethical entanglements of conducting research in communities that are variably geopolitically positioned and which are characterized by high degrees of inequality and power imbalances. This approach is based on a variety of forms of engagement, from grounded participatory methods (e.g. work in Brazil and Nepal) and in-depth ethnographies (research in Peru), to ongoing collaborations and partnership research projects in BC, Canada, and Victoria, Australia. 

Supervision interests

Broadly, I welcome applications from anyone interested in issues of: international development, poverty and inequality; political ecology and environmental justice. This might include research topics in areas such as:

  • Political economy and political ecology of development in Latin America.
  • Indigenous knowledges and practices in development and environmental governance.
  • Adult education in rural development and/or environmental management contexts.
  • Indigenous societies, mining, and water.
  • Livelihood adaptation, resilience, and transformation.
  • Alternative economies. 
  • Agrarian knowledge systems and rural productivity.

Current supervision:

  • Kavindra (Ravi) Paranage: The Regulation of Natural Resources in Sri Lanka's Irrigation Development Projects
  • Souvik Chakraborty: Democracy, Tribal Rights and Social Movements: Selective case studies from Odisha, India
  • Perdita Sonntag: Challenging Traditional Models of Youth Economic Empowerment Programming
  • Zheng Chin: Agonistic Planning in the Post-Political City

Monash teaching commitment

APG5628 Deconstructing Development (Master of International Development Practice and Master of Environment and Sustainability) - semester 1

APG5627 Research in Political ecology (Master of Envrionment and Sustainability and Master of International Development Practice) - semester 2. 

ENS5920 - Sustainability Research Project (Master of Envrionment and Sustainability) - semesters 1 and 2


I am a temporary settler of European origin on the traditional and unceded lands of the Kulin Nations, in the Melbourne area of Victoria, Australia. I moved to Melbourne in 2017, by way of Vancouver in British Columbia (Canada), where I was most recently a post-doctoral fellow in the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. Before that I compelted my PhD and MA in geography at UBC and the University of Victoria, respectively.

In conducting my research, I have worked in places as varied as the urban 'favelas' of São Paulo, the foothills of Nepal's Himalayas, the Sierra Sur of the Peruvian Andes, and rural communities in British Columbia, Canada, and Victoria, Australia.  

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2011 2018

Hybrid regulatory landscapes: The human right to water, variegated neoliberal water governance, and policy transfer in Cape Town, South Africa, and Accra, Ghana

Yates, J. S. & Harris, L. M., 1 Oct 2018, In : World Development. 110, p. 75-87 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Feedbacks as a bridging concept for advancing transdisciplinary sustainability research

Blythe, J., Nash, K., Yates, J. & Cumming, G., 1 Jun 2017, In : Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 26-27, p. 114-119 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

Introduction: Rendering land investable

Goldstein, J. E. & Yates, J. S., 1 Jun 2017, In : Geoforum. 82, p. 209-211 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialOtherpeer-review

Multiple ontologies of water: Politics, conflict and implications for governance

Yates, J. S., Harris, L. M. & Wilson, N. J., 2017, In : Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 35, 5, p. 797-815 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Stephen Graham (2016), 'Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers'

Yates, J. S., 2017, In : Reinvention: A Journal of Undergraduate Research. 10, 2, p. 1-2 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalShort ReviewOther


Four Year Fellowship

Julian Yates (Recipient), 2010

Prize: Competitive Fellowships

Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Doctoral Fellowship

Julian Yates (Recipient), 2011

Prize: Competitive Fellowships

Activities 2009 2019

Submission on the Victorian Circular Economy Discussion Paper

Ruth Lane (Fellow), Julian Yates (Contributor), Carl Grodach (Contributor)
31 Aug 2019

Activity: External Academic EngagementSubmissions to industry or govt committees, commissions and inquiries

La Trobe Centre for the Study of the Inland

Julian Yates (Invited speaker)
21 Aug 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to workshop, seminar, course

Presentation for the Sistema Nacional de Evaluación, Acreditación, y Certificación de la Calidad Educativa (SINEACE), Gobierno del Perú

Julian Yates (Advisor)
19 Jun 2018

Activity: Community Talks, Presentations, Exhibitions and EventsPublic outreach

Presentation of research findings for Soluciones Prácticas, Lima

Julian Yates (Advisor)
15 Jun 2018

Activity: Community Talks, Presentations, Exhibitions and EventsPublic outreach

Annual Conference of the Association-of-American-Geographers

Julian Yates (Speaker)
10 Apr 201814 Apr 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to conference

Press / Media

Why do Australia’s environmental laws fail to save our species from extinction?

Afshin Akhtar-Khavari, Julian Yates, Elizabeth MacPherson, Erin O'Donnell, Katie Woolaston, Alessandro Pelizzon & Rebecca Nelson


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Article/Feature