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Dr James Palmer

Dr James Palmer

Dr James Palmer
BA(Cantab.), MPhil(Cantab.), PhD(Cantab.)

VC Fellowship in Environmental Social Sciences and Humanities

Office 1.8s
University Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SS
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+44 (0) 117 928 8392


My research investigates how environmental knowledges are produced, circulated and interpreted, particularly in emerging controversies situated at the interface between energy infrastructures and atmospheres. My most recent projects have examined the epistemic politics of the so-called ‘dieselgate’ scandal in Europe, and public perceptions of scientific experiments with climate geoengineering technologies.

Current Project – The Political Ecology of Advanced Bioenergy: Knowledges, Economies, Materialities

I will be using my Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowship to explore the implications – both political-economic and ontological – of the ongoing development of new forms of so-called ‘advanced’ bioenergy, particularly those based upon synthetic biology. This project will deploy critical discourse analysis, interviews and public workshops to interrogate the techno-scientific and political-economic processes through which advanced bioenergy is being imagined and constructed, especially in the UK and the US, particularly in the context of wider enthusiasm for a transition to a bio-based economy. At a more conceptual level, the research will also explore how such developments, in reconfiguring the materiality of plants themselves, are also serving to complicate the roles played by non-human, vegetal life-forms within pre-existing capitalist processes of value generation and wealth accumulation. As such, the project aims to advance a critical framework both for deliberating the terms under which advanced bioenergy should be developed and governed, and for rethinking the categories of labour, growth, ‘nature’, and indeed life itself within contemporary theories of capitalism.


I joined the University of Bristol in January 2018 as a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in Environmental Social Sciences and Humanities. Prior to this I was the Course Director of the University of Oxford’s MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance (2015–17), and have also been a Tutorial Fellow in Human Geography at Keble College, Oxford (2013–15). I completed my PhD in Geography at the University of Cambridge in 2013, examining European debates about the environmental impacts of biofuel production as a knowledge controversy.



School of Geographical Sciences

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Recent publications

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