Emily Billo

Assistant ProfessorEnvironmental Studies

Emily Billo is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. She completed her doctorate in geography in 2012 at Syracuse University. Prior to her arrival at Goucher in 2013, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bucknell University. At Goucher College, she teaches introductory and advanced courses in Environmental Studies that employ a critical perspective to investigate the unjust and unequal outcomes of environmental decision-making. 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.

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Research, Scholarship, Creative Work in Progress

Dr. Billo’s research employs qualitative ethnographic methods, and 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.  An ongoing project focuses on corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs of the Spanish oil firm Repsol in an indigenous Kichwa community in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon region. Through multi-sited ethnographic research conducted at local, regional and national levels, she 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. The findings and arguments developed through this research have been published in Geoforum.

A current project investigates the criminalization of environmental protests in Intag, Ecuador. This research considers how criminalizing environmental protests serves as a violent political strategy of the post-neoliberal Ecuadorian state. It investigates how criminalization becomes tightly woven into the fabric of state power in the region of Intag in Ecuador, a site of increasingly contentious debates by state institutions, corporations, environmentalists, indigenous and campesino communities, as well as researchers. Employing an institutional ethnography, this project provides a critical investigation into the social relationships of criminalization, articulated through discourses, practices, and performances of subjects in the space of Intag. Research findings from this project have been published in the journal North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) with Goucher undergraduate Isaiah Zukowski. Research findings are also published in a forthcoming contribution to an edited volume on resource governance (L. Leonard and S. Grovogui, eds.) Another area of interest is the qualitative research process itself, and specifically feminist epistemologies and methodologies. This research has been published in co-authored pieces in Gender, Place & Culture, Progress in Human Geography, and in The Professional Geographer.

Publications

Refereed Journal Articles

Hiemstra, N. and E. Billo, 2016. “Introduction to focus section: Feminist research and knowledge production in geography,” The Professional Geographer DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2016.1208103.

Billo, E. and A. Mountz, 2016 (online 2015). “For institutional ethnography: Geographical approaches to institutions and the everyday,” Progress in Human Geography, 40(2): 199-220.

Billo, E., 2015. “Sovereignty and subterranean resources: An institutional ethnography of Repsol’s corporate social responsibility programs in Ecuador,” Geoforum, 59: 268-277.

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 Chapter

Billo, E., Forthcoming. “Resource extraction and the right to protest: Criminalization and everyday constructions of the post-neoliberal Ecuadorian state” in ‘Resource Governance’, (L. Leonard and S. N. Grovogui, eds.), Routledge.

Public Scholarship

Billo, E. and I. Zukowski (Goucher undergraduate), 2015. “Criminals or citizens? Mining and citizen protest in Correa’s Ecuador” North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). Retrieved from: https://nacla.org/news/2015/11/02/criminals-or-citizens-mining-and-citizen-protest-correa%E2%80%99s-ecuador.

Book Reviews                   

Forthcoming. Review of S. Radcliffe, ‘Dilemmas of Difference: Indigenous Women and the Limits of Postcolonial Development Policy’ (Durham & London: Duke University Press), Journal of Latin American Geography.

Review of A. Bebbington and J. Bury, eds., ‘Subterranean Struggles: New Dynamics of mining, oil, and gas in Latin America’ (Austin: University of Texas Press), Extractive Industries and Society, 2(4): 842-844.

Review of D. Hindery, ‘From Enron to Evo: Pipeline Politics, Global Environmentalism, and Indigenous Rights in Bolivia’ (Tucson: University of Arizona Press), The Latin Americanist, 58(2): 183-185.

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.

External Awards, Honors, Grants

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.        

Conference Papers & Panel Participation

Papers

“Resource extraction and the right to protest: Contentious politics in Intag, Ecuador,” Governing Extraction/Experiencing Extraction. Association of American Geographers Conference, San Francisco, CA, April 2016.

“Everyday spaces of knowledge production: Mining and opposition movements in Ecuador’s Zona de Íntag,” Latin American Studies Association Congress, San Juan, PR, May 2015.

“An institutional ethnography of corporate social responsibility programs in Ecuador’s northern Amazon region,” Association of American Geographers Conference, Chicago, IL, April 2015.

“Mobilizing ambivalence: An institutional ethnography of corporate social responsibility programs in Ecuador’s northern Amazon region,” Critical Geography Conference, Philadelphia, PA, November 2014.

“Constructions of territory: state sovereignty and indigenous citizenship in Ecuador through institutional expansion of corporate social responsibility programs,” Latin American Studies Association Congress, Chicago, IL, May 2014.

“For institutional ethnography: Geographical approaches to institutions and the everyday,” Feminist Geography Conference, Omaha, NE, May 2014.

“Interpreting the ‘zone of influence’: Activism, corporate social responsibility, & indigenous subjects in Ecuador,” Dimensions of Political Ecology, Lexington, KY, February 2014.

“Situated struggles: Corporate social responsibility, indigenous subjectivity, and oil extraction in Ecuador,” Latin American Studies Association Congress, Washington, DC, May 2013.

“Rights, access, and resources: An institutional ethnography of corporate social responsibility and the oil industry in Ecuador’s northern Amazon region,” Association of American Geographers conference, Los Angeles, CA, April 2013.

“Corporate social responsibility and indigenous rights in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon region,” Latin American Studies Association Congress, San Francisco, CA, May 2012.

“Exploring the everyday through an institutional ethnography of corporate social responsibility,” Association of American Geographers conference, New York, NY, February 2012.

“The nexus of development and corporate social responsibility: Indigeneity and resource extraction in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon region,” Rethinking development: Debating new directions in a time of crises, Conference at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, November 2011.

“The politics of oil extraction: Corporate social responsibility and indigenous communities in Ecuador,” Association of American Geographers conference, Seattle, WA, April 2011.

“‘Socially responsible investment’ and the governance of oil extraction in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon,” Latin American Studies Association Congress, Toronto, Canada, October 2010.

“Contradictions and conflict: An institutional analysis of corporate social responsibility,” Association of American Geographers conference, Washington, DC, April, 2010.

“Corporate social responsibility and rural development in Ecuador’s northern Amazon region,” Association of American Geographers conference, Boston, MA, April 2008.

“What does corporate social responsibility really mean? The case of the multinational petroleum industry in Ecuador's northern Amazon region,” Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, Colorado Springs, CO, May 2007.

“Development of the oil industry in Ecuador: How extraction ‘discourses’ contribute to the industry’s dominance in the Amazon region,” Association of American Geographers conference, San Francisco, CA, April 2007.

“The multinational petroleum industry in Ecuador’s Amazon region: A case for “corporate governance?,” Latin American Studies Program, Graduate Student Conference, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, March 2007.

“Identity in social movement formation: Challenging a global oil industry within three Kichwa communities in Ecuador’s Amazon region,” Latin American Studies Program, Graduate Student Conference, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, March 2006.

Invited Panelist

Fieldwork in Human Geography, Association of American Geographers Conference, San Francisco, CA, April 2016.

Ethnography and Critical Human Geography, Association of American Geographers Conference, Chicago, IL, April 2015.

Discussant

“Contestation over Resource Access, Governance and Territoriality in the Central Andes,” Paper session at the Latin American Studies Association Congress, Toronto, Canada, October 2010.

Sessions Organized at Conferences

Panel co-organizer and chair, “Intersectional Research on Gender and the Environment: Theory, Methods, and Practice” Association of American Geographers Conference, San Francisco, CA, April 2016.

Paper session co-organizer and chair, “Politics of Knowledge Production in Resource Conflicts,” Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, PR, May 2015.

Paper session co-organizer, “Power and Praxis in Feminist Knowledge Production,” Critical Geography Conference, Philadelphia, PA, November 2014. 

Paper session co-organizer, “What’s so “Feminist” About it? Knowing and Reflecting on Feminist Research and Methods,” Feminist Geography Conference, Omaha, NE, May 2014.

Paper session co-organizer, “The Political Ecologies of Activism: Mobilization, Fragmentations, Stagnations,” Dimensions of Political Ecology, Lexington, KY, February 2014.

Paper session co-organizer, “Resource Extractivism in Latin America: Development, Governance and Resistance,” Latin American Studies Association Congress, San Francisco, CA, May 2012.

Panel session co-organizer, “Lessons from the Field: Reflections on Human Geography Graduate Research,” Association of American Geographers conference, New York, NY, February 2012.

Paper session co-organizer and chair, “The New Extractivism in Latin America,” Association of American Geographers conference, Washington, DC, April 2010.

Paper session co-organizer and chair, “Neoliberal Environmental Governance in Latin America,” Association of American Geographers conference, San Francisco, CA, April 2007.

Invited Talks

“Sovereignty and subterranean resources: An institutional ethnography of Repsol’s corporate social responsibility programs in Ecuador,” Seminar Series, Department of Geography and Environmental Systems, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Spring 2016.

“Corporate social responsibility, oil extraction, and Ecuador,” First Year Frontiers Course, FRO 100, Goucher College, Spring 2016.

“Expanding the ‘zone of influence’: An institutional ethnography of corporate social responsibility programs in Ecuador’s northern Amazon region,” Political Ecology, ES 230, Environmental Studies, Goucher College, Fall 2013, Spring 2014.

“Qualitative Methods,” Research Methods, ENST 302, Environmental Studies, Bucknell University, Fall 2012, Spring 2013.

“Corporate social responsibility, oil extraction, and Ecuador,” Globalization, IREL 350, International Relations, Bucknell University, Fall 2012.

“Corporate social responsibility and rural development in Ecuador's northern Amazon region,” America and the Global Environment, GEO 103, Department of Geography, Syracuse University, Spring 2011.

“Corporate social responsibility and rural development in Ecuador’s northern Amazon region,” Introduction to Geography course, Community College of Vermont, Spring 2010.

“Corporate social responsibility and oil extraction in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon region,” Symposium, University of Washington Exploration Seminar, Cusco, Peru, Fall 2009.

 “Corporate social responsibility, oil extraction and indigenous peoples in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon region,” Syracuse University Study Abroad Program, Santiago, Chile, Spring 2009.

“Social movement formation in the Ecuadorian Amazon region,” Environmental Science course, Ithaca College, Spring 2006.

Academic or Professional Associations

Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (CLAG)

Latin American Studies Association (LASA)

Future Professoriate Program of Syracuse University (FPP), 2006-2008

Other Professional or Scholarly Activity

ENVIRONMENT RELATED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, NY, 2002-2004

Air/Energy and Environmental Justice Programs Assistant

Researched and wrote on various issues of importance to programs and colleagues, including greenhouse gas emissions trading programs, renewable energy (biomass), and childhood lead paint poisoning guidelines

Researched and organized an institutional policy to track, reduce and offset organization wide greenhouse gas emissions and register emissions with a state greenhouse gas registry

Outreach to community groups and preparing and assembling briefs for litigation purposes

Organization of, and preparation for program related meetings

Proofread reports for publication

Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, NY, 2001-2002

Membership Assistant

Composed letters and emails in response to member questions, occasionally involving online research

Answered phone calls from members, including environmental program related questions

Proofreading membership publications and direct mail letters

Processing membership donations

Dewey Ballantine LLP, Environmental Group, New York, NY, 2000-2001

Paralegal

Researched high priority legal issues and cases to contribute to briefs and articles drafted by attorneys

Wrote background memoranda summarizing current legal and policy issues of interest to the group

Attended and summarized meetings in writing on behalf of clients

Prepared and assembled briefs required to meet deadlines for specific cases