Abigail H. Neely

Academic Appointments
  • Assistant Professor of Geography

  • Affiliated Faculty African and African American Studies

  • Affiliated Faculty Graduate Program in Ecology, Evolution, Environment and Society

As a political ecologist trained in geography's nature-society tradition, I seek to explain relationships between the material world (microbes, crops, and economies) and the way people understand that world (as mitigated through institutions, culture, and experience).  In particular, I research the interactions among local people and government or development workers, as well as between people and non-human actors like crops, nutrients, and witchcraft. This approach reveals that by paying attention to, for example, the addition of beetroot to gardens and cooking pots, the abandonment of long-standing healing rituals, and the failure of anti-tuberculosis campaigns, we can understand how local people and places shape state and international development initiatives.  In my research, I use a mix of methods including oral history collection, ethnography, household surveys, focus groups, participatory GIS, and archival research to understand local thinking and practices.  To understand non-human actors, I use epidemiological and ecological data and scientific work (with a critical eye to the social production of that work).

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Fairchild 121
HB 6017


  • A.B. Princeton University
  • M.Sc. Oxford University
  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin

Selected Publications

  • 2021: “Fundamentally Uncaring: Neoliberalism and the Differential Multi-Scalar Impacts of COVID-19 in the U.S,” Patricia J. Lopez and Abigail H. Neely. Social Science and Medicine, 272: 1-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.113707.

  • 2020: “Entangled Agencies: Rethinking Causality and Health in Political-Ecology,” Abigail H. Neely, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. DOI: 2514848620943889

  • 2020: “Care in the Time of COVID-19,” Abigail H. Neely and Patricia J. Lopez.  Interventions Piece for Antipode.

  • 2019: “Two Worlds, One Bottle: An Object-Centered Ethnography for Global Health,” Abigail H. Neely, Medicine Anthropology Theory, doi.org/10.17157/mat.6.4.642

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Works In Progress

Forthcoming (August 2021): Re-Imagining Social Medicine from the South, Abigail H. Neely. Duke University Press.