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Research interests

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

I am broadly interested in the political economy of development and in its ecological, anthropological, and psychoanalytic dimensions. My research has explored the systemic obstacles to human and nonhuman flourishing, and the role of collective mobilisations in overcoming such obstacles. This concern led me to the following three main lines of research, with a particular geographical focus on India, Bhutan and the Himalayan region:

Debt as a central mechanism giving shape to capitalist societies, from the self to the state. My work on debt, credit and ownership systems was carried out in the tradition of agrarian political economy, economic anthropology and critical institutional economics. 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 and Political Science.

Degrowth as an emerging alternative paradigm of flourishing. I work on the relationship between (de)growth and the debt economy, the global South, and agrarian studies. I am also currently interested in how psychoanalysis can shed light on capitalist modernity and offer tools for healing and transformation. I am a founding member of the Dutch Degrowth Platform and a co-organiser of the 8th International Degrowth Conference that took place in The Hague in 2021.

Social movements as forces for sustainability and justice. I work on/with anti-debt and environmental movements and initiatives. Besides compiling global databases on such mobilisations, I also carried out fieldwork on the plantation economies of Indonesia, Cameroon and Ecuador, and on the conflicts they generate.

Prior to joining the ISS, I was at the Royal University of Bhutan (2015-16), Jawaharlal Nehru University and TERI School of Advanced Studies (2012-14), and Harvard University (2010-12). I have a PhD in political ecology and ecological economics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. I am in the Editorial Team of the Journal of World-Systems Research (USA) and Ecology, Economy and Society (India).

I am currently co-supervising five PhD students: Yukari Sekine, Amod Shah, Anna Voss, Mohsen Yazdanpanah and Haris Zargar. I welcome applications for PhD topics related to any of my research interests.


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