Note: This talk is available live and in-person only. There will be no webcast and no recording.
About the talk
This presentation has two aims. First, I offer an overview of recent collaborative research that identifies the ways in which global drug policies are driving unexpected changes in land use, land cover, and agrarian futures in drug transit zones. Drawing from research in rural Central America, with emphasis on Honduras, I describe the logics, patterns, and processes driving narco-led transformations, which are profoundly shaped and intensified by specific U.S.-led counterdrug approaches. I discuss the implications of those findings for how we understand illicit economies, commodity chain geographies, and frontier transformations more generally. Second, I reflect on my research team’s collective experience doing and presenting this work, including a) the challenges of researching illicit activities in general; b) presenting our mixed-method research to international and national drug policy audiences; c) the opportunities and risks associated with working with media to mobilize our findings.
About the speaker
Kendra McSweeney (MSc Geography U Tennessee-Knoxville; PhD McGill), is a Professor of Geography at Ohio State University focusing on political ecology. Current projects include untangling the nexus of illicit economies, counternarcotics policies, and social-ecological transformation in Central America. Other research has drawn attention to: resilience and rural livelihoods; the links between indigenous population growth and ethno-territorial persistence in Latin America; and human-forest interaction in Appalachian Ohio. Her research has been funded by the Open Society Foundations, the National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation. Her work is published in Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Current Anthropology, Annals of the AAG and elsewhere. She has won Ohio State’s highest teaching honor.