Eric ThomasEric Thomas

Lecturer of Environmental Anthropology


Office: 115 Holdsworth Hall

Curriculum Vitae

I am an environmental anthropologist whose research applies a Critical Development perspective to contemporary state and capitalist projects along coastal resource frontiers.

Primary Interests

Political Ecology, Resource Frontiers, Aquaculture, Fisheries, Coastal Development

Current Projects

For the past five years, I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork on the coast of Chilean Patagonia, where a series of harmful algal blooms have resulted in the closure of fisheries and mass mortality events at local salmon farms.  In the wake of these disasters, my work examines the relationship between industrial aquaculture and artisanal fishing in remote coastal communities as well as the long-term sustainability of these sectors of the coastal economy.

I am currently developing a project examining local perceptions of aquaculture operations in the Gulf of Maine as well as the sector’s political, economic, and social impacts. My research methods include participant observation, career histories, participatory mapping, surveys, and semi-structured interviews.

Courses Taught

  • NRC/ENVIRSCI 554: Sustainable Food Systems
  • NRC 494EJ: Social Movements and Environmental Justice
  • GEOGRAPH 696: Directed Readings in Political Ecology
  • GEOGRAPH 102: Diversity, Globalization, and Sustainability


Ph.D. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2020

MA. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2016

BA. Hamilton College, 2009


In Progress:

Thomas, E. (2024) Quotas, Catch Shares, and Fisheries Transformation in Latin America. Marine Policy. (in preparation)

Thomas, E. (2023) Routine losses, “continuous improvement,” and warming oceans: Managing Risk on Chile’s Aquaculture Frontier. Latin American Perspectives (forthcoming)



Thomas, E.H. (2023) Fishers who don’t fish: Redistribution and community in times of crisis. American Ethnologist. 50(1):75-89.

Thomas, E. (2022) Democracy and Development in Chilean Patagonia. Anthropology News. August 29.

Thomas, E. (2022) Coastal Lives: Coastal Lives: Nature, Capital, and the Struggle for Artisanal Fisheries in Peru by Maximilian Viatori and Héctor Bombiella. American Anthropologist. 123(4):437-438. (book review)

Mendoza, M., Greenleaf, M., and Thomas, E. (2021) Green Distributive Politics: Legitimizing Green Capitalism and Environmental Protection in Latin America. Geoforum. 126:1-12.

Thomas, E. (2021) Sanitary Crises and “No Contact” Aquaculture: Chilean Fish Farming During the Pandemic. Culture, Agriculture, Food, and the Environment. 43(1):14-24.

Thomas, E. (2021) Making Maps on the Coast of Patagonia: Class, Power, and Industrial Expansion. Practicing Anthropology 43(1):30-34.

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

Thomas, E. (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. New York: Springer.

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

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