James Alejandro Artiga-Purcell is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Studies department at UC Santa Cruz. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College, and a M.A. in Development Studies from the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Rooted in Political Ecology and Environmental Justice, Alejandro’s interdisciplinary interests, research and advocacy-work address the uneven politics that simultaneously drive environmental degradation and spark social resistance and solidarity movements that make sustainable futures possible. For the past decade, his research and advocacy have focused on water justice, extractive development and socio-environmental conflict in Central America. Specifically, he has worked with communities and environmental NGOs to understand gold mining’s threat to water, livelihoods and national sovereignty in El Salvador. His current research examines how El Salvador became the first and only nation in the world to ban metal mining, and how this unprecedented victory for environmental justice informs ongoing water conflicts and environmental movements throughout Central America.
In addition to his experience in El Salvador, Alejandro has worked with a variety of Non-governmental organizations in Honduras, Chile, Washington DC and California, on issues spanning transborder mining, US trade policy, water governance and Central American immigration. He has helped organize a number of international forums that bring together diverse activists, researches, and indigenous and community leaders to examine the limits and potential alternatives to highly polluting and socially disruptive extractive development. He firmly believes in and works for participatory research, education and praxis aimed at promoting social and environmental justice that embraces diversity and coalition-building with underrepresented and vulnerable populations. These beliefs and commitments animate Alejandro’s pedagogical approach. He currently teaches Political Ecology at UC Santa Cruz.
Fellow at a Glance
University of California Santa Cruz