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Ph.D., Anthropology and Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale, 2003

M. Phil., Anthropology, Yale, 1998

M. Phil., Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale, 1998

M.Sc., Forestry and Its Relation to Land Use, Oxford, 1994

B.A., Political Science, University of Kansas, 1992


Teaching and Research Interests

Professor McElwee teaches courses on climate and environmental change, environmental policy, political ecology, development, globalization and environment, and sustainability politics. Her research interests include gender and development in Southeast Asia.

Biographical Notes

Professor Pamela McElwee is an Associate Professor in Human Ecology at the School of Environmental and Behavior Sciences. Her work spans academic, research, and policy sectors and assesses the multiple effects of environmental change in relation to human lives, economic practices, and sustainability politics. In addition to her affiliation with WGS, she holds affiliations in the Departments of Geography and Anthropology, and she is a graduate faculty member at the Blounstein School of Planning and Public Policy.  Her book, Forests are Gold: Trees, People, and Environmental Rule in Vietnam (U of Washington Press 2016) won the 2017 Best Social Science Book on Southeast Asia from the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies. She is also co-editor of the book Gender and Sustainability: Lessons from Latin America and Asia (U of Arizona Press 2012) with Maria Cruz-Torres. McElwee's most recent work investigates the political, social, and environmental effects of climate change in Southeast Asia. In addition to numerous scholarly publications, McElwee has also received research grants as Principal or Co-Principal Investigator from the National Science Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She regularly authors policy reports in English and Vietnamese for the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program in Hanoi, and the Institute for Ethnic and Minority Affairs in Hanoi. In 2014, McElwee received the Rutgers Board of Trustees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence.

Selected Publications


Forests are Gold: Trees, People, and Environmental Rule in Vietnam (U of Washington 2016)

Gender and Sustainability: Lessons from Latin America and Asia (U of Arizona Press 2012)


Refereed Journals:

McElwee, P.D., Fernández-Llamazares, A., Thorpe, M.A, Whyte, K.P., Middleton, B.R., Reid K., Sy, W. C. and Moldawer, A.M. (2018). “Indigenous ecologies.” The Oxford Bibliography of Ecology. D. Gibson, ed. New York: Oxford University Press. 

McElwee, P.D. (2017) “The metrics of making ecosystem services.” Environment and Society: Advances in Research 8: 96-124.

McElwee, P.D., Nghiem, P.T, Le, T.V.H., Vu, T.D.H. (2017). “Flood vulnerability among rural households in the Red River Delta of Vietnam: Implications for future climate change risk and adaptation.” Natural Hazards 86(1): 465-492. 

 McElwee, P.D., Nghiem, P.T, Le, T.V.H., Vu, T.D.H. and Tran, N.H. (2014) “Payments for environmental services and contested neoliberalisation in developing countries: A case study from Vietnam.” Journal of Rural Studies 36(Oct): 423-440   .

 McElwee, P.D. (2012). “Payments for environmental services as neoliberal market-based forest conservation in Vietnam: Panacea or problem?” Geoforum, 43: 412-426. 


Refereed Book Chapters

 Cruz-Torres, M.L. and McElwee, P.D. (2017) “Gender, Livelihoods and Sustainability: Anthropological Research” In: The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment, Dr. Sherilyn MacGregor, ed. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 133-145 

 McElwee, P.D. (2016) “Doing REDD+ Work in Vietnam: Will the New Carbon Focus Bring Equity to Forest Management?” In: The Carbon Fix: Forest Carbon, Social Justice and Environmental Governance, S. Fiske and S. Paladino, eds. Berkeley: Left Coast Press, pp. 184-200.

  • ·McElwee, P.D. (2015) “From conservation and development to climate: Anthropological engagements with REDD+ in Vietnam.” In: Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change, J. Barnes and M. Dove, eds. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 82-106.
  • ·McElwee, P.D. (2012) “Gender and the global illegal trade in wildlife: Local and global connections in Vietnam.”  In: Gender and Sustainability: Lessons from Latin America and Asia. M.L. Cruz-Torres and P.D. McElwee, eds. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, pp. 71-93.


Awards, Fellowships, and Grants

  • Principal investigator, National Science Foundation, Geography and Regional Science Division 2011-2015, "Downscaling REDD policies in developing countries: Assessing the impact of carbon payments on household decision-making and vulnerability to climate change in Vietnam.
  • Co-principal investigator, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 2004-05, Research and Writing Grant, Program on Global Security and Sustainability: "Environmental Consequences of State-Sponsored Rural-Rural Migration in Southeast Asia: A Comparison of Transmigration and Resettlement in Indonesia and Vietnam". With Chris Duncan, University of Missouri-Columbia.

Courses Taught

  • Globalization, Development and Environment
  • Climate Change Policy
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change: Nature/Social Theory (Graduate Course)
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change: Political Ecology of Climate (Graduate Course)