School of Social and Political Science

Sam Spiegel

Job Title

Senior Lecturer in International Development

Sam Spiegel's photo

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15a George Square

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Major research interests

Themes: Displacement, inclusion and exclusion, social identities and institutional practices, migration, mobility justice, knowledge production around borders, ethnographic methods in researching migration, institutional responses to displacement, theories of social justice and injustice -Extractive and energy injustices, fossil fuel violence, coal mining and resistance to coal, resistance to oil, politics of environmental impact assessment for mining - Governance, Dispossession, Alienation, Epistemic Erasure, Storytelling and social change -Theorising environments, Institutions, Values and spaces - Climate change, climate injustice - Community-based research, Ethnographic approaches, Community-engaged and policy-engaged mixed methods approaches -Intergenerational photovoice and related arts-based and visual methods - Global governance, Health, Development politics - Anti-racist and feminist approaches 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, Colonialism and decolonisation, Research methods, Anti-colonial methods, Ethics in collaborative research, environmental racism and structural injustice


PhD, Geography, University of Cambridge

MSc, Interdisciplinary Studies, University of British Columbia

BA (Hons), Politics, Whitman College


Sam is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre of African Studies and Deputy Director of Research (Knowledge Exchange and Impact) at the School of Social and Political Science. Broadly speaking, his work engages conceptual and methodological debates in the study of socio-environmental injustice, development, displacement, contemporary coloniality and political ecology, with a current focus on community-driven research methods and narratives of struggle and collective mobilisation for change. In 2016, he was a recipient of an ESRC Future Research Leader Award, and in 2020, he was a recipient of a Principal's Teaching Award, as a PI for a collaborative project on decolonial and anti-racist praxis in teaching and learning, focused on experiences amid the COVID pandemic in a project bringing together other academic faculty members and student-researchers. He is the Principal Investigator of four recent grants, three of which focus on relationships to land through a political ecology lens, resource extraction and social change, climate disaster, migration, and displacement along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, and one on transformative anti-colonial pedagogies in learning about displacement in the current era: 
-“Storytelling After Climate Disaster: Creative Communication and Post-Cyclone Transformations” (UK Government-GCRF-funded) 
-“Informing Post-Cyclone Resilience: Visual Stories and Collective Planning in Zimbabwe-Mozambique Border Communities and Beyond” (Edinburgh Futures Institute-funded); 
-“Reconfiguring Livelihoods, Re-Imagining Spaces of Transboundary Resource Management” (ESRC);
-Teaching ‘Displacement’ amid the COVID Crisis: Re-Imagining Africa-UK Connections, Anti-Colonial Anti-Racist Praxis and International Curricula (Institute for Academic Development-funded)

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 and contemporary implications of ongoing colonial violence. Over the years he has conducted extensive research in Zimbabwe, Indonesia and First Nations territory on unceded land in Canada, and advised civil society organisations, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and various United Nations agencies (UNDP, UNEP and UNIDO) on initiatives addressing local, regional and global inequities, presenting at UN forums in the Philipplines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mali, Tanzania and beyond. He is currently conducting projects engaging community-based research approaches to explore the construction of knowledge in relation to land, displacement, mobility and networks of activism around socio-environmental injustices and solidarity-building. Dr. Spiegel has received two Principal's Teaching Awards to date, 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

Global Development Challenges, Displacement and Development

Selected publications

Spiegel, S.J., Kachena, L., Gudhlanga, J. (2023). Climate disasters, altered migration and pandemic shocks: (im)mobilities and interrelated struggles in a border region. Mobilities, 18(2), 328-347.  

Spiegel, S.J., Mhlanga, J. (2022) Refugee policy amidst global shocks: encampment, resettlement barriers and the search for ‘durable solutions’. Global Policy, 

Moze, F., Spiegel, S.J. (2022) The aesthetic turn in border studies: Visual geographies of power, contestation and subversion. Geography Compass,

Spiegel, S. (2022). Oil, anti-Indigenous biases and the conduct of officers of the court, National Observer, July 2, 2022.

Mucherera, B., Spiegel, S.J. (2021). Forced displacement: Critical lessons in the protracted aftermath of a flood disaster. GeoJournal  

Juliet Gudhlanga & Samuel J. Spiegel (2021) Gendered social media communication around mining: patriarchy, diamonds, and seeking feminist solidarity online, Gender & Development, 29:2-3, 369-390

Spiegel S.J. (2021). Fossil fuel violence and visual practices on Indigenous land: Watching, witnessing and resisting settler-colonial injustices. Energy Research and Social Sciences 79

Spiegel, S. (2021). Cruelty vs. cultural respect in Canada’s colonial courts. National Observer, October 5, 2021.

Spiegel, S. J. (2021). Climate injustice, criminalisation of land protection and anti-colonial solidarity: Courtroom ethnography in an age of fossil fuel violence.Political Geography 84, 102298.

Le Billon, P., & Spiegel, S. (2021). Cleaning mineral supply chains? Political economies of exploitation and hidden costs of technical fixes. Review of International Political Economy, 1-27.

Spiegel, S. J., Thomas, S., O'Neill, K., Brondgeest, C., Thomas, J., Beltran, J., Hunt, T., and 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 7(3)994-1001.

Spiegel, S.J. 2020. "Mineral Extraction and Political Ruptures in Zimbabwe." In The Oxford Handbook of Zimbabwean Politics.

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., and Spiegel, S.J. (2019) Borderland migration, mining and transfrontier conservation: questions of belonging along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border. GeoJournal 84(4),1021-1034.

Chanakira, D. K., Mujere, J., & Spiegel, S. (2019). Traditional leaders and the politics of labour recruitment in Zimbabwe’s platinum mining industry. The Extractive Industries and Society6(4), 1274-1281.

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

Brown, B., and 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., and Spiegel, J. M. (2018). Tackling injustices of occupational lung disease acquired in South African mines: recent developments and ongoing challenges. Globalization and Health, 14(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 Policy 54, 559-573.

Spiegel, S., Keane, S., Metcalf, S., and 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. Geoforum, 59, 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

Selected reports to United Nations agencies and governments

Manatsa D, K. Chatiza, Mushore D.T., D. Munodawafa, C. Gadzirayi, E. Makaya, D. Matsvange, E. MandizadzaM. Mudembe, A. Nzirayegaza, A. Chemura, E. Marange, M. Mbiriri, R. Mukonoweshuro, E.N. Moyo, T. MadanziT. Chikukwa, W. Kozanayi, M. Goss, G. McAllister, T. Maradze, M. Zivhave, B. Muchinapo, S. Spiegel, J. Owen, R. Owen, K. Chirongwe, C. Mudavanhu, P. Manjeru, E. Munsaka, L. Sakala and S. Mwacheza. (2020). Building Resilience to Natural Disasters in Populated African Mountain Ecosystems. Case of Cyclone Idai, Chimanimani. Zimbabwe, Chimanimani: TSURO. ISBN 1-177925489-4

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 guest lecture to Capilano University class. "Decolonizing Visual Methods? Exploring Photovoice - Experiences, Critical Dilemmas and Possibilities, Capilano University, North Vancouver, B.C., March 27, 2019

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 with 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", Carleton University, Canada, May 2016

Spiegel, SJ, Invited lecture - "Re-Imagining Mining and the Social Construction of Place Attachment in Indonesia", 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)


PhD Supervision

Current PhD Students:

Esther Egele-Godswill, "Pipeline Infrastructure: On the Socialites and Politics of (Dis)connection in Nigeria’s Niger Delta"

Francesco Moze, "Local chiefs in the African ‘Alsatia’: Loyalty, Disaffection and the Delimitation of

the Uganda-Congo Boundary"

Kershan Vikram Pancham, "Tracing AfroIndo literacies and practices in Southern Africa"

Mathew Nikhil Varghese, "The Political Economy of Coal in India under Private Control"

Grace O'Donovan, "Eco-spatial Materialities of Inequality:  A critical socio-ecological narrative and ‘object-based’ exploration of food, water and livelihoods in South Africa"

Previous PhD Students:

Margherita Scazza, "Resistencia Waorani: a study of anti-extractivist resistance, territorial defence and Indigenous autonomy in Ecuadorian Amazonia"

Emilio Soberon Bravo, "Lithium overdose – Market practices and symptomatology of lithium trade in Latin America"

Sane Zuka, "Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations and the Politics of Environmental Mining Regime Change in Malawi: Bifurcated Loyalties and Reversal of the Promise"

Aidan Barlow, "Stagnant Extraction? The Politics of Time and Space in the Tanzanian Hydrocarbon Sector"

Nancy Chawawa, "Why do smallholder farmers insist on living in flood prone areas? Understanding self-perceived vulnerability and dynamics of local adaptation in Malawi"

Maurice Hutton, "Seeing like a second city: contested development in the African townships of late colonial Bulawayo, Rhodesia, 1949-1977"

Staff Hours and Guidance

Wednesdays 2pm-4pm. Please email me in advance if you would like to secure an appointment time.