Carnegie Mellon University

Noah Theriault

Noah Theriault

Assistant Professor

  • Baker Hall 240 C
  • 412-268-9301


I am an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of cultural anthropology, political ecology, and social history.  My work aims to understand both the ‘more-than-human’ nature of societies and the sociopolitical nature of ecosystems. This means approaching environmental politics not only as struggles over resources, but also as encounters among different knowledge systems, cosmologies, and ways of being in the world. Using ethnographic and historical methods, I study, for example, how tropical forest communities are affected by the global push for biodiversity conservation and how, in turn, these communities—including the other-than-human beings with whom they share the environment—intervene in and shape the practice of conservation.

Since 2006, my empirical research has focused on the Philippines, where I pursue political-ecological questions in both rural and urban settings.  My first, long-term project there examines how indigenous rights, biodiversity conservation, and capitalism collide on Palawan Island, a UNESCO “Biosphere Reserve” that is undergoing rapid social and ecological change due to settler colonization and extractive industries. Resulting (co)publications have highlighted the creativity and endurance of Palawan’s indigenous communities as they confront these powerful forces of change.  In 2016, I connected this project with the Creatures Collective and continue to work with a broad range of scholars, practitioners, and activists in an effort to contest the colonial foundations of prevailing environmental paradigms.  

More recently, I have initiated a new, collaborative study of how Manila’s ‘traffic crisis’ both reflects and shapes its deeply uneven social, political, and ecological landscape. By connecting urban political ecology, environmental history, and the anthropology of infrastructure, this project seeks new insight into a problem that permeates all aspects of life in this fast-growing mega-city.  It is also part of a larger effort to promote collaborative and community-based methods in urban environmental studies.  With funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Alex Nading (Cornell University) and I have established a research group on “Collaborative Ecologies.” 

Please use the links below to access my publications.  If you do not have institutional access to the non-OA articles, please contact me by email, and I will be happy to send you a copy.


Ph.D.: University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2013


  • with Kristian Saguin. “Panoptic na Pag-unlad? On the Perils and Potentials of ‘Smart’ Urbanism in Manila.” Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints (in press).
  • with Clod Yambao, Sarah Wright, and Rosa Cordillera Castillo. “‘I am the land and I am their witness’: Placemaking amid displacement among Lumads in the Philippines.” Critical Asian Studies 54.2 (2022): 259-281.

  • with Simi Kang. “Toxic Research: Political Ecologies and the Matter of Damage.” Environment & Society 12.1 (2021): 5-24.

  • with Krisha J. Hernández, June Mary Rubis, Zoe Todd, Audra Mitchell, and Bawaka Country including Laklak Burarrwanga, Ritjilili Ganambarr, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs, Banbapuy Ganambarr, Djawundil Maymuru, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Sarah Wright, and Kate Lloyd. “The Creatures Collective: Manifestings.” Environmentand Planning E: Nature and Space 4.3 (2021): 838–863.
  • with Will Smith "Seeing Indigenous Land Struggles in the ‘Multispecies Cloud’ of Covid-19." Society for Cultural Anthropology Fieldsights (2020).

  • with Raqueeb Bey, Rachel Filippini, Sarah Martik and Aly Shaw. “Not good enough for whom? Pittsburgh is a place worth fighting for.” Public Source (2020).

  •  with June Mary Rubis. “Concealing Protocols: Conservation, Indigenous Survivance, and the Dilemmas of Visibility.” Social & Cultural Geography (in press).

  • “Euphemisms We Die By: On Eco-Anxiety, Necropolitics, and Green Authoritarianism in the Philippines.” In Beyond Populism: Angry Politics and the Twilight of Neoliberalism, edited by J. Maskovsky and S. Bjork-James. West Virginia University Press (2019).
  • “Unraveling the Strings Attached: Philippine Indigeneity in Law and Practice.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 50.1 (2019): 107-128.
  • with Tim Leduc, Audra Mitchell, and June Mary Rubis, with Norma Jacobs Gaehowako. “Living Protocols: Remaking Worlds in the Face of Extinction.” Social & Cultural Geography (in press).
  • with Audra Mitchell. “Extinction.” In Anthropocene Unseen: A Lexicon, edited by C. Howe and A. Pandian. Goleta, CA: Punctum (2019).
  • “Reframing ‘Disaster’.” In Disaster Archipelago: Understanding Hope and Vulnerability in the Contemporary Philippines, edited by C. Alejandria and W. Smith. Lexington Press (2019).
  • “Surviving Carmageddon in Manila.” Edge Effects (2018).
  • “A Forest of Dreams: Ontological Multiplicity and the Fantasies of Environmental Government in the Philippines.” Political Geography 58 (2017): 114-127.
  • with Zev Trachtenberg, Antonio J. Castro, Kiza Gates, Asa Randall, Ingo Schlupp, and Lynn Soregan. “(Inter)Facing the Anthropocene: Representing an Interdisciplinary Interaction. Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities1 (2017): 18-38.
  • “Environmental Politics and the Burden of Authenticity.” Palawan and Its Global Connections, edited by J. Eder and O. Evangelista. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press (2014): 346-370.
  • “The Micropolitics of Indigenous Environmental Movements in the Philippines.” Development & Change 6 (2011): 1417-1440.

Courses Taught

  • Reformers, Revolutionaries, and Revanchists: Histories of Social Movements
  • Global Studies Research Seminar (capstone)
  • Modern Southeast Asia: Colonialism, Capitalism, and Cultural Exchange
  • How (Not) to Change the World
  • Un-Natural Disasters: Societies and Environmental Hazards in Global Perspective
  • Hostile Environments: The Politics of Pollution in Global Perspective
  • Introduction to Global Studies

Department Member Since: 2017