I am a cultural anthropologist interested in human-environment interactions in the Brazilian Amazon. My research seeks to understand Amazonian livelihoods and land uses in relation to political and economic drivers, but also to expand the view through attention to cultural factors, such as ideals of work, nature, and masculinity, as well as food and landscape preferences. The goal is to understand why destructive environmental practices, particularly cattle raising, make sense from the perspective of different actors. This research in the western Amazon state of Acre, Brazil is the subject of my book: Rainforest Cowboys: The Rise of Ranching and Cattle Culture in Western Amazonia.   My current research focuses on cross-cultural comparison of cattle raising, cowboy/cattle cultures, and beef consumption; everyday forms of nature control; and the cultural dimensions of land change and deforestation, with a focus on cattle raising and gold mining in the Brazilian Amazon.


Gold Glimmers in the Amazon, a photo essay on life in the illegal gold camps of the Brazilian Amazon, was recently published in Sapiens  The piece was written with Geographers Peter Richards and Michael Klingler and based on fieldwork conducted in the mines in the summer of 2015.  Michael's striking photographs of the mining process and the garimpeiros (miners) are worth a look.  

The Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) has awarded UC Santa Barbara anthropologist Jeffrey Hoelle top honors for his book “Rainforest Cowboys: The Rise of Ranching and Cattle Culture in Western Amazonia” (University of Texas Press, 2015). Full article from the UCSB Current.

UCSB anthropologist explores cattle raising, deforestation, and ongoing tensions between conservation and development in the Amazon

Cowboys of Western Amazonia-- Anthropologist Jeffrey Hoelle is as great an advocate of the Amazonian rainforest as the most ardent environmentalist. However, he argues, understanding the issues related to deforestation — or development, depending on how you look at it — requires a broad view that takes into account not only political and economic factors, but also the culture of the area.

8/19/16: Universidade Federal do Pará NCADR & IMAZON (Belém, Brazil)
8/16/16: EMBRAPA- Acre
8/11/16: Universidade Federal do Acre (Rio Branco, Brazil)
5/2/16: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
2/26/16: Yale Agrarian Studies
2/24/16: Brown University