Emily Billo

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies



Ph.D., Geography, Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship, December 2012.

Dissertation Title: "Competing sovereignties: Oil extraction, corporate social responsibility, and
indigenous subjectivity in Ecuador." Advisor: Dr. Tom Perreault.

Master of Regional Planning, Cornell University, August 2006.

Thesis Title: "Identity in social movement formation: Challenging a global oil industry within three Kichwa communities in Ecuador's Amazon region."

B.A., Environmental Studies, (Art History Minor), Middlebury College, February 2000.

Link to Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

Dr. Billo's research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of political ecology, theories of critical development, and feminist methods. Questions of resource access and distribution, identities and social movement formation, subjectivity and power relations are long-standing fascinations. Dr. Billo has carried out research in the Ecuadorian Amazon region for the past nine years focused on resource extraction, indigenous social movements, and rural development. Employing qualitative ethnographic methods, her research is both empirically grounded and theoretically informed. She uses a political economic framework to investigate analytical links between subject formation, institutions, and resource extraction in Ecuador. 

Dr. Billo's doctoral dissertation examined the corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs of the Spanish oil firm Repsol in an indigenous Kichwa community in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon region. CSR programs are market-based, non-government initiatives, widely promoted as grassroots development efforts that purportedly offset the social and environmental impacts of resource extraction. Through multi-sited ethnographic research conducted at local, regional and national levels, her dissertation illuminates the way in which corporate, state, and indigenous actors engage within an institutional framework of CSR to facilitate oil extraction, and rights and access to resources.

Dr. Billo's goals as an educator include helping students examine the interconnectedness of their own lives within social and natural environments. In turn, she is committed to helping students develop their own agency within a larger society. Her teaching style incorporates space for creative, collaborative learning. She encourages students to take risks and challenge themselves intellectually. Two interrelated processes characterize her teaching goals. First, she aims to cultivate students' engagement with pressing global issues. Second, her goal is to develop critical analytical tools that enable students to evaluate the political, social, cultural, and ecological implications of these issues.

Dr. Billo's teaching interests include Introduction to Environmental Studies, Fossil Fuels and Society, Environmental Policy and Politics, Environmental Justice, Politics of Food and Agriculture, Development and Globalization, and Qualitative Methods.

Recent Publications/Presentations/Performances

Journal Articles

Billo, E. and N. Hiemstra, 2013. "Mediating messiness: Expanding ideas of flexibility, reflexivity and embodiment in fieldwork," Gender, Place & Culture, 20(3): 313-328.

Book Reviews            

2008. Review of M. Peña, 'Latina Activists Across Borders: Women's Grassroots Organizing in Mexico and Texas' (Durham  & London: Duke University Press), Gender, Place & Culture, 15(6): 647-661.

Funded Research

National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant, "Corporate social responsibility and rural development in Ecuador's northern Amazon region," $12,000, 2009-2010.

Inter-American Foundation Grassroots Development PhD Fellowship, "Corporate social   responsibility and rural development in Ecuador's northern Amazon region," $25,000, 2008-2009.