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Laura German

UGA Arch
Professor of Anthropology
Director, Center for Integrative Conservation Research

My scholarship has shifted from constructive (policy- and practice-oriented) to more critical orientations over time, yet I have an ongoing interest in engaged research in the service of social justice and environmental sustainability. Themes of ongoing interest include land and environmental governance; the political-economic and ontological roots of inequality; and how theory and method can be deployed in support of more sustainable, anti-oppressive futures. I am also a methodologist, creatively integrating the unique strengths of conventional and action-oriented research, distinct disciplinary traditions, and seemingly incompatible ways of knowing to match the problem at hand. I welcome opportunities to engage with others to stretch the imaginative space as well as challenge my own knowledge practices.

Research Interests:
  • Land governance 
  • Politics of knowledge and ontology 
  • Coloniality 
  • Property rights 
  • Institutional theory 
  • Customary land relations 
  • Natural resource management  
  • Commercial pressures on land  
  • Biofuels sustainability 
  • Process and institutional innovation 
Selected Publications:

2022 German, L. Power/Knowledge/Land: Contested Ontologies of Land and its Governance. University of Michigan Press.

2022 Arney, R., M. Henderson, H. Deloach, G. Lichtenstein and L. German. Connecting across difference in environmental governance: Beyond rights, recognition, and participation. Environment and Planning: Nature and Space.

2022 Van Sant, C., L. German and D. Read. A “cultural transformation” at the US Department of Agriculture? Examining racial (in)equality through federal farmland protection programs in Georgia. The Journal of Peasant Studies.

2021 DePuy, W., J. Weger, K. Foster, A. Bonanno, S. Kumar, K. Lear, R. Basilio and L. German. Environmental governance: Broadening ontological spaces for a more livable world. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.

2020 German, L.A., A.M. Bonanno, L.C. Foster and L. Cotula. “Inclusive business” in agriculture: Evidence from the evolution of agricultural value chains. World Development.

2019 German, L. and C.M.T. Braga. Decentering emergent truths on tenure security: Archaeology of a global knowledge regime. Journal of Peasant Studies.

2018 German, L. Catalyzing self-governance: Addressing multi-faceted collective action dilemmas in densely settled agrarian landscapes. International Journal of the Commons.

2017 German, L., A. Goetz, T. Searchinger, G. de L.T. Oliveira, J. Tomei, C. Hunsberger and J. Weigelt. Sine Qua Nons of sustainable biofuels: Distilling implications of under-performance for national biofuel programs. Energy Policy.

2017 German, L., E. King, R. Unks and P.W. Naiputari. This side of subdivision: Individualization and collectivization dynamics in a Maasai group ranch held under collective title. Journal of Arid Environments.

2017 Hunsberger, C., L. German and A. Goetz. “Unbundling” the biofuel promise: Querying the ability of liquid biofuels to deliver on socio-economic policy expectations. Energy Policy.

2016 German, L., E. Cavane, A. Sitoe and C. Braga. Private investment as an engine of rural development: A confrontation of theory and practice for the case of Mozambique. Land Use Policy.

2016 German, L., R. Unks and L. King. Green appropriations through shifting contours of authority and property on a pastoralist commons. The Journal of Peasant Studies.

2015 German, L. The global land rush: Implications for agricultural communities. CAB Reviews.


“Advancing the Anthropology of Contract,” NSF Research Team Seminar, School for Advanced Research (2022, ongoing)

“Translating Indigenous Rights: A Multi-Level Study of Peru's Prior Consultation Law,” NSF DDRIG (with Katie Foster) (2020-2022)

Contracted Study: 15-country review of the characteristics of small- and medium-scale growers, Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, 2020 (with Katie Foster and Lowery Parker)

“LEGEND State of the Debate Report: Inclusive Business in Agriculture,” Overseas Development Institute of the UK, 2017-2018 (with Anya Bonanno and Katie foster)

"Environmental Science and Policy: A Meta- Synthesis and Multi-Sited Ethnographic Study of Boundary Spanning Processes in Georgia," NSF DDRIG, 2015-2016 (with Danielle Jensen-Ryan)

“Pastoralism in Transition: Linking Localized Interactions and System Behavior to Evaluate Social-Ecological Vulnerability," NSF-CNH, 2013-2016 (with Elizabeth King)


PhD, Anthropology, University of Georgia, 2001

BSc, Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Cornell University, 1991

Articles Featuring Laura German

Dr. Laura German's book, "Power/Knowledge/Land" (University of Michigan Press) focuses on global land governance. Learn more about the new release…

Congratulations to Dr. Laura German, whose NSF Research Team seminar proposal, Advancing the Anthropology of Contract was selected for funding by the School for Advanced Research (SAR).

Congratulations to Dr. German on becoming the new director for the Center for Integrative Conservation Research! The CICR was founded in 2007 and supports innovative conservation and sustainability research and training through its interdisciplinary…

Walker DePuy, Katie Foster, Suneel Kumar, and Kristen Lear, along with co-authors Jacob Weger, Anya Bonanno, Raul Basilio, and Laura German, receive the J. Peter Brosius Integrative Conservation Research Award for their paper, “Environmental…

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