Mr Ed Atkins

Mr Ed Atkins

Mr Ed Atkins
Senior Teaching Associate

University Road, Clifton, Bristol
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Telephone Number (0117) 9245973

School of Geographical Sciences

Personal profile

I am currently a Senior Teaching Associate at the School of Geographical Sciences, both leading and supporting on a number of units offered at Undegraduate and postgraduate levels.


I first arrived the University of Bristol in Autumn 2013, having previously been awarded a BA (Hons) in History and an MA in International Relations and International Law by the University of Kent in 2011 and 2012 respectively. As part of an ESRC 1+3 scholarship, I have also completed a supplementary MRes at the University of Bristol - allowing me to start my PhD studies in September 2014. 


My research explores the strategies used by resistance coalitions against the Belo Monte and São Luiz do Tapajós dams in the Brazilian Amazon. In particular, this research explores how the storylines present in these movements seek to not only criticise the respective projects but also to discredit the widely-held understanding of hydropower as a sustainability form of energy. In doing so, the opposition coalition has sought to relocate the complexes within a wider political context, involving questions of social and environmental impacts, political corruption, and territorial rights.

This research draws from the field of political ecology and work on the post-political to explore how this opposition not only disputes the green credentials of the projects in question but has also sought to re-politicise the notions of sustainability and the paradigm of sustainable development in the post-political era.

In exploring this topic, I have grown particularly interested into the concept of 'contested sustainabilities', in which the ambiguity of contemporary notions of sustainability have given rise to divergent - and, at times, conflicting pathways to sustainability.

Having conducted an interdisciplinary PhD, I am particularly interested in engaging in work that sits across traditional academic disciplines - drawing on my educational background in History, International Relations and International Law, and now Human and Political Geography.

This follows additional research interests in the hydro-social cycle, environmental politics in the United Kingdom, critical geopolitics and the international governance of the oceans. I am particularly interested in how processes of policy-reform or infrastructure-construction result in certain projects becoming symbolic of wider problems, phenomena, and understandings of human-nature relationships.


Now based at the School of Geographical Sciences, I currently teach the following units:

Environmental Policy and Politics (GEOGM1409)

State, Economy and Society in Geographical Perspective: Part 2 - Development, Democracy and (In)Equality (GEOG20005)

World in Crisis? (GEOG16001)

Sustainable Development (UNIV10001)

I have previously taught on the following undergraduate units, offered by the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies:

2016/17 -  Comparative Government and Politics (POLI11103)
2015/16 - International Political Economy (SPAI10005)


Fields of interest

Hydropolitics, Environmental Politics, Environmental Conflict, Water Scarcity, International Development

Latest publications

  1. Atkins, E, 2018, ‘Dams, political framing and sustainability as an empty signifier: the case of Belo Monte’. Area, vol 50., pp. 232-239
  2. Atkins, E, 2018, ‘Building a dam, constructing a nation: The 'drowning' of Capel Celyn’. Journal of Historical Sociology.
  3. Atkins, E, 2017, ‘Dammed and Diversionary: The multi-dimensional framing of Brazil’s Belo Monte dam’. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol 38., pp. 276-292
  4. Atkins, E, 2017, ‘Saltwater Geopolitics in North America’. in: Gustavo Sosa-Nunez (eds) Widening the Scope of Environmental Policies in North America: Towards Blue Approaches. Palgrave Macmillan Ltd., Basingstoke
  5. Sosa-Nunez, G & Atkins, E, 2016, ‘Environment, Climate Change & International Relations’. E-International Relations
  6. Atkins, E, 2016, ‘Environmental Conflict: A Misnomer?’. in: G Sosa-Nunez, E Atkins (eds) Environment, Climate Change & International Relations. E-International Relations
  7. Atkins, EK, 2014, ‘Beyond State-Fetishism: the Case for Neoliberalism as a Hydro-Hegemon’. School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies; University of Bristol

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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