Personal profile

Research interests

Julien-François Gerber is Associate Professor of Environment and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague.

I’m broadly interested in the political economy of sustainability, including in its anthropological and psycho-spiritual dimensions. My research has explored some of the paths and obstacles to human and nonhuman flourishing. This concern led me to three main lines of inquiry, with a particular geographical focus on Western Europe and South Asia:

– The fundamental institutions regulating owning and owing. I’m interested in the role of ownership and debt systems in shaping economies and mentalities. I did fieldwork on this in the agrarian contexts of Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Cameroon, and Ecuador. I also engaged with economic theory – particularly with Marxist, institutional, and ecological economics.

– Social movements, alternatives, and the politics of knowledge. I’m interested in the role of social movements in bringing about alternatives, and in the place of ‘science‘ in all of this. I worked on and with environmental justice and anti-debt movements. My main focus now is on degrowth and on how it relates to the rural world, debt, the pluriverse, and psychology.

– Transformative potentials of ecopsychology and psychoanalysis. Is it enough to target the politico-institutional structure to allow the deployment of alternatives? I wrote on the contributions of depth- and ecopsychology in processes of transformation. I’m interested in the links with the literatures on needs, alienation, sacred ecology, and theories of the self/soul.

Prior to joining the ISS, I was based at universities in Bhutan, India, and the USA, including the Royal University of Bhutan (2015-16), Jawaharlal Nehru University (2012-13), and Harvard University (2010-12). I have a MSc from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and a PhD in political ecology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (supervised by Joan Martínez-Alier and Giorgos Kallis).

From 2018 to 2019, I was granted an ISRF Fellowship to work on debt at the department of anthropology of the London School for Economics (sponsored by David Graeber).

In 2023, I received an Advanced Certificate in Ecopsychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA.

I’m in the Editorial Team of Development and Change (Netherlands) and Ecology, Economy and Society (India).

I’m presently co-supervising four PhD students: Jed Alegado, Amod Shah, Mohsen Yazdanpanah, and Haris Zargar. I welcome applications for PhD topics related to any of my research interests.


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