I am trained as a scholar of international economic development and human geography.  In my research I use food and agricultural production and climate change as lenses to examine power relations and resistance as they relate to capitalist-driven economic development and human-environment relations. My research is motivated by a desire to understand the geopolitics of knowledge production—at sites from the global to the body. As part of this work I examine how people resist and what forms this resistance takes–from mundane everyday acts and knowledge exchange to active protest and civil disobedience. I conduct research in both peripheral and core economic areas.

I am also a founding member of the Community Economies Institute, a not-for-profit, member based organization dedicated to furthering research, education and advocacy for economic practices that help us all to survive well together.

Ongoing Work

Climate Smart Agriculture

As a co-PI Ion this project am undertaking work with citizen scientists, using photo-voice methods to better understand how farmers see climate change impacting their fields and how adaptation and sustainability measures are adopted and understood by farmers in place. The project team members (Auburn University, New Mexico State University) will work collaboratively to accomplish the following objectives: (1) develop engineered biochar to lower agricultural nitrous oxide emission in a climate-resilient system; 2) determine the plant genes and pathways associated with a positive yield response to engineered biochar amendment under water deficit conditions; 3) elucidate the impact of engineered biochar on nutrients, greenhouse gas emissions and microbial processes; 4) simulate the impact of extreme events on crop yield and nutrient losses, and identify the suites of conditions that are less impactful for agricultural productivity; and 5) assess farmers’ perceptions and the economics of using engineered biochar along with the animal waste.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Energy Justice

Dr. Lindsay Naylor (PI, Geography), in collaboration with Dr. Jeremy Firestone (School of Marine Science and Policy), Dr. Julie Klinger (Geography), are working on a project in collaboration with lead PI Dr. Benjamin Sovacool (Earth and Environment, Boston University) and Dr. Christine Labuski (Women and Gender Studies, Virginia Tech), Dr. Cara Daggett (Political Science, Virginia Tech), Dr. Shannon Bell, (Sociology, Virginia Tech) to undertake a whole systems approach to energy transitions, integrating theory and insights from spatial justice, energy geography, political ecology, Indigenous energy justice, and antiracist scholarship to advance an interdisciplinary approach to the whole supply chain comprising the U.S. transition to renewables. Although the operation and use stage of renewable energy technologies like wind and solar are highly visible, it remains that mineral extraction, manufacturing, and waste disposal are less visible and can place profound tolls on individuals, communities, and precious resources. To meet the goal to advance understandings of transformational energy justice in these contexts, we will use mixed qualitative methods to examine how power relations, values, and structural inequalities get built into energy decisions and energy transitions, and we look to apply and further develop related analytical tools to help inform future just transition decision making.

Our mixed methods approach consists of eight case studies across the solar and wind energy lifecycles, using, (i) expert interviews and elicitation, community interviews, and focus groups; (ii) site visits, including participant observation and socio-ecological vulnerability analysis, and supplemented with, (iii) archival research and reviews of the academic and policy literature. The University of Delaware research team is the lead on wind energy data collection.

This Project is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Inclusive Climate Change Adaptation in Delaware

This project, initiated in 2021 centers on how we produce knowledge about climate change and adaptation in the State of Delaware. In cooperation with the Lenni Lenape Tribe of Delaware, our research team is working to understand and reframe climate change discourses, environmental literacy, and adaptation strategies. A core component of this work is making visible indigenous experiences of climate change and the exclusionary character of adaptation strategies to date.

This project is funded by the Delaware Sea Grant Program.

Body Territories: Addressing Inequities in Access to Human Milk

This project, begun in 2017, involves intensive research and outreach grounded in feminist material geopolitical analyses of the body centered on the geopolitics of infant feeding in the United States. This research is proceeding in stages, in the first stage (2018-2019), now completed, I focused on infant feeding at the site of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to better understand the power relations tied to the material practice of milk exchange. The second stage of research now underway (2019) I am focused on collaborating with Breastfeeding Coalitions, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, and for-profit milk banks to better understand formal sites of milk exchange. In the broader project I examine: the uses of donor human milk as a medical intervention in the NICU; perceptions and understandings of breastfeeding, the lactating body, and the use of donor human milk through formal and informal sites of access; variations in experience, access to, and use of donor human milk and breastfeeding. Here I seek to understand the material and (dis)embodied practices of infant feeding, starting at the site of the body (decentering the state as the geopolitical actor) to understand experiences of lactating and traumatized bodies and read these experiences through a feminist geopolitical materialism, by engaging human milk as flesh and assessing how it is understood, processed, shared, prescribed, purchased, and utilized as part of infant care.

Urban Food Forestry in Philadelphia

This project is a student-led examination of urban food forests in Philadelphia as sites of intentioned, publicly accessible, food production in the city. In this research we look at how fruit- and nut-bearing perennials in urban food forests contribute to community-building and healthy food access in low-income and minority neighborhoods. Access, affordability, and healthfulness of food remain key subjects of interrogation as researchers seek to explain obstacles to healthy food access in low-income urban areas. A key goal of this project is to identify the dynamics that emerge in urban food forests, which are often located in previously vacant city lots, and reconsider how we view sites of urban food access and community-based responses to structural inequality. Undergraduate students examine: sustainability and policymaking focused on the Food Policy Council and the Philly Land Bank; visibility and access; and community participation.

If you are an undergraduate student seeking research experience, please contact me to participate in this project.

This research is supported by undergraduate research grants awarded by DENIN, UD Summer Scholars, and the Honors Program Enrichment Award. It is also the subject of the journal article below:

Stanko, H. and Lindsay Naylor. “Facilitating (?) Urban Agriculture in Philadelphia: Sustainability Narratives in the Inequitable City.” Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability 23, no. 4 (April 3, 2018): 468–84.

Related Media:
Hennesey, Greer (2017) – “Philadelphia Food Justice,” UDaily.

Select photos – Philadelphia

Completed Work

On-call Transportation, Freight, Ports, Aviation and ITS Planning Activities: The Delaware Alcohol Industry (2018 – 2020)

In 2018, I was invited to collaborate on a DelDOT project with colleagues in the Biden School of Public Policy ‘s Institute for Public Administration, focused on freight and the obstacles facing the alcohol industry in Delaware. While this project has multiple aims, as Co-PI I focus on interviewing members of the industry (n=35) to discuss the challenges of working as small producers in the state. Specifically related to the breweries in the project (n=23), and as the craft brewery grab continues (the practice of large brewing companies, e.g. Anheuser-Busch InBev buying out craft breweries), I also engaged in interviews aimed at revealing the state of the industry and the power relations that are embedded in attempts to maintain local, sustainable production. The Brewers Association introduced a certification mechanism in 2017, to certify those breweries that were small, craft-focused, and independently owned. Delaware is the only state with 100% adoption of the certification, which has provided a provocative local corollary to my international work on fair trade certification.

This project was funded by the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Food Sovereignty Knowledge Exchanges (2014 – 2020)

The allocation and distribution of food in global production-consumption systems is a constellation of social practices and unequal relationships. Here, I examine how participants in food sovereignty-based tourism understand the multi-dimensional nature of food sovereignty and assesses the potential radical and lasting impacts of education-based tourism. This research is a collaboration that investigates the practice of food sovereignty tourism and the actions undertaken by food systems actors following tour-based knowledge exchange. The data collection is not targeted at only interpreting how differently situated actors in the food system understand and practice food sovereignty, but also at stimulating opportunities to transform the food system. The aims of the project are tied to contributing to food studies and critical geography literatures and also making more transparent the results of food sovereignty-based knowledge exchange, which will allow participants to see how their contributions are represented in change across space.

Select photos – Basque Country and Cuba

This research was funded by the University of Delaware: Global Area Studies Program Faculty Research Award and the General University Research Program Award and is the subject of the following publications:

“Geopolitics and Food Sovereignty: Cuban Imaginaries.” Geopolitics (January 14, 2020): 1–24.

“Food Sovereignty in Place: Cuba and Spain.” Agriculture and Human Values 36, no. 4 (December 1, 2019): 705–17.

“Representing Food Sovereignty: Views from Cuba.” FOCUS on Geography 62, (June 2019), doi: 10.21690/foge/2016.62.3p (open access)

Decolonial Autonomies (2008 – 2019)

In this project I examined agricultural practices enacted by subsistence and fair trade coffee farmers in self-declared autonomous indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico. In this work I used concepts from critical geopolitics and decolonial theory to contribute new insights into debates over food sovereignty, indigenous autonomy and fair trade in the context of neoliberal globalization and development. I highlight two important contributions here. First, my research provides an important corrective to existing scholarship on food sovereignty, and its emphasis on national-scale politics and anti-capitalist agendas by critically evaluating diverse household and community scale efforts to achieve food sovereignty. Second, self-determination and autonomy have been at the center of indigenous political agendas and anti-colonial struggles for decades, yet few scholars have examined how autonomy is understood in politically fractured communities or how it is enacted and contested in the context of agriculture and food production practices. These material practices represent important spaces where power/knowledge dynamics and community politics unfold, unsettling the ways that indigenous autonomy and economic development are currently framed in academic scholarship.

In this research I was particularly interested in what daily agricultural practices and negotiations can tell us about cultivating autonomy and also regarding the contentious politics of maintaining a primarily subsistence-based lifestyle while also interacting in the global marketplace through fair trade coffee sales.

Select Chiapas fieldwork photos

This research was funded by a range of grants and is the basis of “Fair Trade Rebels” published with University of Minnesota Press in the Diverse Economies and Livable Worlds Series (2019). Book Talk: Fair Trade in Movement and the Possibilities of Being in Common

It is also the subject of these journal articles and book chapters:

“Fair Trade: market-based ethical encounters and the messy entanglements of living well.” In The Handbook of Diverse Economies, edited by Kelly Dombroski and Katherine Gibson, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Press, 2020.

“Fair Trade Coffee Exchanges and Community Economies.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, April 9, 2018.

“Reframing Autonomy in Political Geography: A Feminist Geopolitics of Autonomous Resistance.” Political Geography 58 (May 2017): 24–35.

“Auditing the Subjects of Fair Trade: Coffee, Development, and Surveillance in Highland Chiapas.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, January 1, 2017. doi:10.1177/0263775817694031.

 “Is the Conflict in Chiapas, Mexico, between the Zapatistas and the Mexican Government, Primarily a Conflict over Natural Resources? The Chiapas Conflict: A Battle for Indigenous Recognition and Rights.” In Natural Resource Conflicts [2 Volumes]: From Blood Diamonds to Rainforest Destruction, edited by M. Troy Burnett, 2:654–60. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.

Other Related media:
Report for the Global Studies Institute: “Naylor on Farmers in Mexico”
Report for the Center for the Study of Women and Society: “Resistance and the Everyday” (2012, CSWS Newsletter p. 9)

Cherfas, Jeremy (2017) “Pushing good coffee: Beyond merely fair in search of ethical trade.” Eat This Podcast.

Casini, Artika Rangan (2017) “The Politics of Fair Trade.” UDaily.

Stoeve, Rachael (2015)How to Become a Citizen Eater: A Trip Behind the Labels of Your Ethical Cup of Coffee.” Yes Magazine.

Wu, Katherine J. (2019) “Many cocoa farm workers aren’t reaping the benefits of Fairtrade certification.” PBS Nova.

Hired Gardens and Resistance (2009 – 2012)

In 2009, the New York Times ran an article profiling businesses that could be hired to install, maintain and harvest fresh vegetables from personal, residential, private property and declared the consumers of such businesses “lazy locavores.” This article was the basis for the hired gardens research project, funded by the Department of Geography at the University of Oregon, I conducted interviews and observation with ‘hired garden’ businesses on the west coast of the United States and their clients, and completed textual analysis of related websites, news stories and other documents. The research resulted in an academic article: “Hired Gardens and the Question of Transgression: Lawns, Food Gardens and the Business of ‘alternative’ Food Practice.” Cultural Geographies 19, no. 4 (October 1, 2012): 483–504. This article used the empirical work to examine the practice of lawn removal, participation in alternative food movements, and the procuring of hired garden services as a transgressive practice.

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