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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, rural development, social mobilisation, 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 professionalization in environmental governance and postcolonial 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. 

3. Decolonizing water governance – scalar conflict and sovereignty: Research in Nepal and BC, Canada, has focused uneven politics of governing water. This has been supported by working on a project about access to water in peri-urban areas of Accra and Cape Town. Ongoing research includes a focus on the indigenous water operators network in BC.

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. my work in Brazil and Nepal) to in-depth ethnographies (research in Peru). 

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.
  • The politics of indigenous knowledge and professionalization.
  • 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

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 British Columbia in Canada.  

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 Sebastian Yates (Recipient), 2010

Prize: Competitive Fellowships

Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Doctoral Fellowship

Julian Sebastian Yates (Recipient), 2011

Prize: Competitive Fellowships

Activities 2009 2018

  • 11 Contribution to conference
  • 2 Public outreach
  • 1 Contribution to workshop, seminar, course
  • 1 Expert/ advisor

Annual Conference of the Association-of-American-Geographers

Yates, J. S. (Speaker)
10 Apr 201814 Apr 2018

Activity: Contribution to conference

La Trobe Centre for the Study of the Inland

Yates, J. S. (Invited speaker)
21 Aug 2018

Activity: Contribution to workshop, seminar, course

New Zealand Geographical Society and the Institute of Australian Geographers

Yates, J. S. (Speaker)
10 Jul 201814 Jul 2018

Activity: Contribution to conference