Brian Ikaika Klein

Brian Ikaika Klein

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I am an interdisciplinary scholar-practitioner interested in natural resource politics and policy, especially in relation to energy and extractive industries. My research integrates the study of social and environmental conditions and processes to understand resource access and governance in extractive frontier settings across the Global South. Prevailing narratives among policymakers and in popular media consistently portray these spaces as unregulated and chaotic. I challenge these representations by documenting the complex governance arrangements that order activities, manage conflict, and determine livelihoods on the extractive frontier. My dissertation presents ethnographic and historical evidence from Madagascar to elucidate the emergence, evolution, and endurance of governance institutions in gold mining communities on the island, as well as to interrogate the global, national, and local dynamics by which these institutions are shaped. At the center of this work is a commitment to producing policy-relevant research informed by interdisciplinary political-ecological analysis interested in achieving more equitable and sustainable outcomes for smallholder resource extractors and rural communities–in Madagascar, and across the globe.

My doctoral research is the basis of a manuscript project, several articles in progress, and a book chapter in press, and has won support from the National Science Foundation, UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies, and UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Law and Society (among others). My agenda for future research comprises extending this analysis to build a broader comparative project on frontier governance; interrogating ongoing changes in Madagascar’s diggings, where corporate involvement by Chinese firms and infrastructure projects funded by Chinese capital are transforming the gold frontier; and investigating the ways in which the growth of the renewable energy sector and other climate-related industries is generating new globally-networked and locally-embedded mineral economies and extractive frontiers.

Prior to entering graduate school, I worked in Washington, DC at organizations including the World Bank, U.S. Peace Corps, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar from 2010-2012, and earned a B.A. in political science and international peace studies from the University of Notre Dame in 2008.

I was born and raised in Hawai‘i—and try to get back as frequently as possible.