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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 and in its anthropological and psychological 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, India, and Bhutan:

– The institutions behind owning and owing. I’m interested in the role of ownership and credit/debt systems in shaping economies and behaviours. Some of my works on this are grounded in the agrarian contexts of Bhutan, Cameroon, Ecuador, India, and Indonesia, where I did fieldwork. Some others engage with economic theory – particularly with Marxian, 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 is now on degrowth and similar ‘commonist’ projects. I published on how degrowth relates to agrarian studies, the pluriverse, debt, and psychoanalysis.

– Transformative potentials of psychoanalysis and ecopsychology. Is it enough to change the politico-institutional structure to allow the flourishing 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, embodiment, spiritual 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 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). I’m currently undergoing training in ecopsychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA.

I’m in the Editorial Team of the Journal of World-Systems Research (USA) and Ecology, Economy and Society (India).

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


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