Stanford Experts

Lisa Curran

Professor of Anthropology; Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment


(203) 606-4513



Lisa Curran’s interdisciplinary studies center on natural resource extraction by transnational firms and the political ecology of land use, primarily in Indonesia and Brazil. She employs diverse methods to assess the ecological and social impacts of company practices with the shifting discourse promoted by the state, international institutions, conservation NGOs and donor agencies. Critiques evaluate market-based incentives for conservation and national parks, community-based forest management, private sector certification and development agencies’ efforts geared toward sustainable forest management.

Her current research group – working in Asian, African and Latin American tropical ecosystems – examines the socio-economic and political drivers of agribusiness coupled with community responses and change in livelihoods and land use. Long-term empirical measurements on indirect ecological effects (e.g., forest productivity, hydrology, water quality, droughts and fire) are conducted as well. A major component involves quantification of carbon sources/sinks and assessments of initiatives for carbon payments from donors, investment banks with NGOs under voluntary markets and UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) pilot projects.