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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Dr Tamara Wattnem is an Assistant Professor in Development Studies and Latin American Studies. She holds a BA (University of California - Berkeley) and MSc/PhD (University of Wisconsin - Madison).


Tamara Wattnem is Assistant Professor of Development Studies and Latin American Studies. She specializes in theories of development and economic change, environmental sociology and critical agrarian studies. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin Madison.


Tamara Wattnem’s research focuses on the politics and implications of the deepening of extractivism in Latin America – particularly industrial agriculture, mining, and hydrocarbon extraction. She is currently engaged in two interrelated projects. The first analyzes the distinct trajectories of energy and mining policy throughout Mexico’s neoliberal era, with special attention to the role and reach of resource nationalism. The second project focuses on how and when the International Labor Organization’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention – more commonly known as the ILO Convention 169 – is used as a tool to both resist and legitimate extractivism. She has also written about global trends in seed legislation that erode farmers’ rights to save and replant seeds.


Key publications: 

Wattnem, Tamara. (Forthcoming) “Neoliberal Resource Nationalism: The Scramble for Mexico’s Hydrocarbons.” Latin American Perspectives. 

Wattnem, Tamara et al. (2022) “Who Defines Fine Chocolate? The Construction of Global Cocoa Quality Standards from Latin America.” International Journal for the Sociology of Agriculture and Food 28(1): 73-87 

Fitting, Elizabeth, Laura Gutiérrez Escobar and Tamara Wattnem. (2021) “Contesting Seed Standards: The Red  de Semillas Libres in Colombia.” In Graham, Janice et al. (eds.). The Social Life of Standards: Ethnographic Methods for Local Engagement. Vancouver: UBC Press.  

Wattnem, Tamara. (2019) “Women’s Inclusion is not Gender Equality.” Feminist Collections 40(1): 20-21.  Review of Kara Ellerby’s No Shortcut to Change: An Unlikely Path to a More Gender Equitable World.

Wattnem, Tamara. (2016) “Outlawing Informal Seed Systems in the Global South: Seed Laws, Certification, and  Standardization.” Journal of Peasant Studies 43(4): 850-867 

Teaching and Supervisions


Tamara Wattnem teaches a paper titled “Perspectives on Sustainable Development and Environmentalism.” She also contributes to the “Capitalism and Society in Latin America” module at CLAS.

Assistant Professor of Development Studies and Latin American Studies
Fixed-Term Lecturer
Tamara Wattnem

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