Skip to main content

School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Sam Spiegel

Sam Spiegel
Dr Sam Spiegel
Senior Lecturer in International Development
B.02 19 George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0) 131 651 3066
Research Interests
Major research themes - Theories of Social Justice and Rights - Governance, Global Institutions and Policymaking - Decolonisation, Dispossession, Alienation, Displacement and Migration, Epistemic Erasure, Storytelling and Social Change - Theorising Environments, Institutions, Values and Spaces - Community-Based Research, Ethnographic Approaches, Community-Engaged and Policy-Engaged Mixed Methods Approaches - Global Governance, Health, Development Politics - Anti-Racist and Feminist Appraoches to Knowledge Construction - Activism, Social Movements, Protest and Solidarity-Building (globally, and particularly in Indonesia, Zimbabwe and Canada/First Nations territory) - United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - Conceptualisations of Nature-Society Relations, Relational Histories and Connections to Place


-PhD, Geography, University of Cambridge

-MSc, Interdisciplinary Studies, University of British Columbia

-BA (Hons), Politics, Whitman College


Sam is an ESRC Future Research Leader Fellow and Senior Lecturer in International Development at the School of Social and Political Science.  Broadly speaking, his current work engages conceptual and methodological debates in development studies, with a current focus on narratives and struggles in relation to migration, displacement, social marginalisation and collective mobilisation for social justice. 

Prior to joining the School of Social and Political Science in Edinburgh, he conducted his doctoral research at the University of Cambridge, where he studied geography as a Trudeau Scholar and Cambridge Commonwealth Scholar at Trinity College, examining struggles in mining regions and the framing of social justice debates. Over the years he has conducted extensive research in Zimbabwe and Indonesia, and advised civil society organisations, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and various United Nations agencies (UNDP, UNEP and UNIDO) in Africa and Asia on initiatives addressing  local, regional and global inequities, presenting at UN forums in the Philipplines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mali, Tanzania and beyond. He has conducted research in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Indonesia, Cambodia, Brazil and Canada, and is currently directing ESRC-funded and Canadian government-funded projects engaging community-based research approaches to explore the construction of knowledge in relation to networks of activism and solidarity-building around experiences of deep economic and social marginalisation, as well as engagement strategies with policymakers.

Dr. Spiegel has received a Principal's Teaching Award, and in September 2016, at the Chancellor's Awards Dinner, Dr. Spiegel received the 2016 Chancellor's Rising Star Award at the University of Edinburgh, recognising " the resonance and impact of his work in development studies, including his very high quality publications, demonstrable research impact, an excellent track record in research funding, and his contributions to mentoring and research leadership."  

Main Teaching Responsibilities

-  MSc Programme in Global Challenges (programme director)

- Displacement and Development - see

- International Development, Aid and Humanitarianism -

- MSc in International Development

- MSc in Africa and International Development

Selected Publications

Spiegel, S. J., Thomas, S., O’Neill, K., Brondgeest, C., Thomas, J., Beltran, J., Hunt, T., & Yassi, A. (2020). Visual Storytelling, Intergenerational Environmental Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty: Exploring Images and Stories amid a Contested Oil Pipeline Project. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(7), 2362.

Spiegel, S.J, (2020). Visual Storytelling and Socio-Environmental Change: Images, Photographic Encounters and Knowledge Construction in Resource Frontiers. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 110(1), 120-144. 

Mkozongi, G. Spiegel SJ, 2020. Mobility, Temporary Migration and Changing Livelihoods in Zimbabwe’s Artisanal Mining Sector, Extractive Industries and Society (forthcoming)

Jonasson, M., Spiegel, S.J., Thomas, S. et al. 2019. Oil pipelines and food sovereignty: threat to health equity for Indigenous communities. Journal of Public Health Policy, p. 1-14. 

Kachena, L., & Spiegel, S.J. Borderland migration, mining and transfrontier conservation: questions of belonging along the Zimbabwe–Mozambique border. GeoJournal 1-14.

Spiegel, S., Gray, H., Bompani, B., Bardosh, K., & Smith, J. 2017. Decolonising online development studies? Emancipatory aspirations and critical reflections. Third World Quarterly, 38, 270-290.

Brown, B., & Spiegel, S.J. 2019. Coal, climate justice, and the cultural politics of energy transition. Global Environmental Politics 19(2): 149-168.

Brown, B., Spiegel, SJ. 2017. Resisting Coal: Hydrocarbon Politics and Assemblages of Protest in the UK and Indonesia, Geoforum 85: 101-111.

Kistnasamy, B., Yassi, A., Yu, J., Spiegel, S. J., Fourie, A., Barker, S., & Spiegel, J. M. (2018). Tackling injustices of occupational lung disease acquired in South African mines: recent developments and ongoing challenges. Globalization and Health14(1), 60.

Spiegel, SJ, 2017. EIAs, Power and Political Ecology: Situating Resource Struggles. Geoforum 87: 95-107.

Mkodzongi, G., Spiegel, SJ. 2018. Artisanal gold mining and farming: livelihood linkages and labour relations after land reforms in Zimbabwe, Journal of Development Studies.

Spiegel, S, Agrawal, S., Mikha, D., Vitamerry, K., Le Billon, P., Veiga, M., Konolius, K., Paul, B. 2018. Phasing Out Mercury? Ecological Economics and Indonesia’s Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector, Ecological Economics 144: 1-11.

Spiegel, SJ., Brown, B. 2017. Fossil fuels: Heed local impact of coal mining. Nature 550: 43 (correspondence).

Spiegel, SJ, 2017. New mercury pollution threats: a global health caution. The Lancet, 390, 226-227.

Spiegel, S. 2016. Land and ‘space’for regulating artisanal mining in Cambodia: Visualizing an environmental governance conundrum in contested territory. Land Use Policy54, 559-573.

Spiegel, S., Keane, S., Metcalf, S., & Veiga, M, 2015. Implications of the Minamata Convention on Mercury for Informal Gold Mining in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Global Policy Debates to Grassroots Implementation?. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 17(4): 765-785.

Gamu, J., Le Billon, P., Spiegel SJ. 2015. Extractive Industries and Poverty: A Review of Recent Findings and Linkage Mechanisms. Extractive Industries and Society 2(1), 162-176.

Spiegel, S. J. (2015). Contested diamond certification: Reconfiguring global and national interests in Zimbabwe’s Marange fields. Geoforum59, 258-267.

Spiegel, SJ. 2014. Rural Place-Making, Globalization and the Extractive Sector: Insights from Gold Mining Areas in Kratie and Ratanakiri, Cambodia. Journal of Rural Studies 36: 300-310: 765-785.

Spiegel, S., Keane, S., Metcalf, S., Veiga, M., Yassi, A. 2014. The Minamata Convention on Mercury: Time to Seek Solutions with Artisanal Mining Communities. Environmental Health Perspectives 122(8): A203.

Spiegel SJ Ribeiro CAAS, De Sousa RN, Veiga MM. 2012. Mapping Spaces of Environmental Dispute: GIS, Mining and Surveillance in the Amazon. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 102(2): 320-349.

Spiegel SJ. 2012. Governance Institutions, Resource Rights Regimes and the Informal Mining Sector: Regulatory Complexities in Indonesia. World Development 40(1): 189-205.

Spiegel SJ. 2012. Microfinance Services, Poverty and Artisanal Mineworkers in Africa: In Search of Measures for Empowering Vulnerable Groups, Journal of International Development 24(4): 485-517.

Sousa, R., Veiga M., Van Zyl D., Telmer, K, Spiegel, S. Selder, J. 2011. Policies and Regulations for Brazil's Artisanal Gold Mining Sector. Journal of Cleaner Production 19(6-7): 742-750.

Spiegel SJ, Veiga MM. 2010. International Guidelines on Mercury Management in Small-Scale Gold Mining, Journal of Cleaner Production 18(4): 375-385.

Spiegel SJ. 2009. Socioeconomic Dimensions of Mercury Pollution Abatement: Engaging Artisanal Mining Communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ecological Economics 68(12): 3072-3083.

Spiegel SJ, Le Billon P. 2009. China's Weapons Trade: From Ships of Shame to the Ethics of Global Resistance, International Affairs 85(2): 323-346.

Spiegel SJ. 2009. Resource Policies and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Zimbabwe, Resources Policy 34: 39-44.

Swain E, Jakus P, Rice G, Lupi F, Maxson P, Pacyna J, Penn A, Spiegel SJ, Veiga MM. 2007. Socioeconomic Consequences of Mercury Use and Pollution, Ambio - Journal of the Human Environment. 36:45-61.

Spiegel SJ, Savornin O, Shoko D. and Veiga MM. 2006. Mercury Reduction in Munhena, Mozambique: Homemade Solutions and the Social Context for Change. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 12: 215-221.

Spiegel SJ, Yassi A, Spiegel J, Veiga M. 2005. Reducing Mercury and Responding to the Global Gold Rush, The Lancet 366: 2070-2072.

Spiegel SJ and Veiga MM. 2005. Building Capacity in Small-Scale Mining Communities: Health, Ecosystem Sustainability and the Global Mercury Project. EcoHealth 2(4): 1-10

Published Book Reviews

Spiegel, SJ. 2015. Review of “Modes of Governance and Revenue Flows in African Mining,” B. Campbell (Ed.), Palgrave Macmillan, Extractive Industries and Society. doi:10.1016/j.exis.2015.03.004

Spiegel SJ. 2007. Review of “Small-Scale Mining, Rural Subsistence and Poverty in West Africa,” Ed, G. Hilson, Natural Resources Forum, 31: 3, 243-245

Selected Reports to United Nations Agencies and Governments

Spiegel SJ, 2012, Analysis of Formalization Approaches in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector. Report to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Spiegel SJ and Hoeung S, 2011. Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining: Policy Options for Cambodians. United Nations Development Programme

Spiegel SJ, Addressing the Challenges of Small-Scale Gold Mining in Cambodia: An Examination of Sector Complexities and Policy Options. Commissioned Report for the United Nations Development Program and the Royal Government of Cambodia (2010)

Spiegel SJ, Governance Strategies in Artisanal Mining Communities: Supporting Livelihoods and Social Opportunities. Report for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (2010)

Spiegel SJ and Veiga MM. Global Impacts of Mercury Supply and Demand in Small-Scale Gold Mining. Report Commissioned by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Governing Council, February 2007, Nairobi Kenya (translated in UN languages and circulated to governments worldwide) (Summary available at:

Co-Author, Pilot Project for the Reduction of Mercury Contamination from Mining Fields in Manica District, Mozambique Report to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, accessible at (2005)

Other Lectures

Spiegel SJ, Invited Presentation to academic colleagues from University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and Capilano University as well as members and staff from the Tseil-Waututh Nation. “Visual Storytelling and Community- Based Research Strategies: Mixed-Methods Approaches for Supporting Youth and Elders,” Capilano University, North Vancouver, B.C., November 14, 2018.

Spiegel, Invited Lecture and Facilitation of Seminar, “Photovoice and Community- Based Research around Extractive Sector Injustices: Methodological and Ethical Considerations,” Presentation for the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association, Kariba, Zimbabwe, July 1, 2018.

Spiegel SJ, Invited Lecture, “Political Ecology and the Erasure of Knowledge: Situating Struggles and Alliance-Building Through Community-Based Research” School of Environmental Studies seminar series, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, October 4, 2018

Spiegel, SJ, Keynote Speech: “Re-Imagining Community Gold Mining: Struggles of Identity, Meaning and Territory”, International Conference on Community Mining in Indonesia – Minimising Harm, Maximising Benefits, Jakarta 2-4 November 2016.

Spiegel, SJ, Invited lecture – “Re-Imagining Resource Politics and Advocacy Struggles: EIAs as Symbols of Contested Modernity in Small-Scale Mining”, Carleton University, Canada, May 2016 

Spiegel, SJ, Invited lecture – “Re-Imagining Mining and the Social Construction of Place Attachment in Indonesia’s Extractive Sector”, Australian National University, November 2015

Spiegel, SJ, Keynote Speech – “Positionality, Power and Fieldwork Reflections in Extractive Sector Research”, University of Leeds, November 2015. 

Spiegel SJ, “Formalisation Policies, Informal Resource Sectors and the De-/Re- Centralisation of Power,” Invited presentation in Japan, June 2013 conference of the IASC – International Association for the Study of the Commons) viewable online at: 

Spiegel SJ. Invited Expert Panelist, 18th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Ministerial Roundtable on Mining. United Nations Headquarters, New York, May 12, 2010. Speech title: Governance Strategies in Artisanal Mining Communities: Supporting Livelihoods and Enhancing Social Opportunities. Video of Speech Available at Online United Nations Webcast: (speech link at bottom of webpage)