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Email: ehthomas at


Office: 410C Alumni Hall

Areas of Interest:

Governmentality; Political Ecology; Transnational Networks; Ethnography; Critical Development Studies; Chilean Patagonia


MA, Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 2016

BA, Anthropology, Hamilton College, 2009

Professional Background:

Eric earned his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Hamilton College, completing a senior thesis based on fieldwork conducted in Senegal in the spring of 2008 and subsequent ethnographic research on assimilation and association among individuals involved in transnational education programs.

He taught English to international undergraduate and graduate students in Boston, Massachusetts for three years before moving to Santiago, Chile where he worked with engineering students at the Universidad de Chile in the Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas.

He entered the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2014 and has subsequently returned to Chile in 2015 and 2016 to examine emergent environmental citizenship in the Aysén region of Patagonia. His master’s thesis, based on fieldwork conducted with Chilean leñeros (woodcutters and transporters) was entitled “El producto más democrático que hay: Chilean Frontier Constellations after Pinochet.”

His current work focuses on state-driven economic development in the Aysén region, particularly in the aquaculture and timber industries, and its effect on rural populations across Patagonia. He is also interested in the historical development of the region, internal labor migrations, and increased efforts at territorialization undertaken by the government in Santiago for the purposes of conservation and control.

Research and Activities:

Aquaculture; Woodcutting; Ecotourism; Coastal communities

Recent Publications:

Thomas, Eric. 2018. Crisis and catastrophe on Chiloé: Collective memory and the (re)framing of an environmental disaster. Cultural Dynamics. 30(3):199-213.

Thomas, Eric. 2018. Seeing the Forest for the Trees: The Firewood Trade in Southern Chile. In Chiloé: The Ethnobiology of an Island Culture. A. Daughters and A. Pitchon, eds. Pp. 91-105. New York: Springer.

Thomas, Eric. 2017. Territories of Possibility. Cultural Dynamics. 29(4):328-332. 

Thomas, Eric. 2017. Capitalism in the Web of Life by Jason W. Moore. Journal of Political Ecology. 24. (book review)

Curriculum Vitae