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Department of Geography


Alexander Cullen BSci (Hons) PhD

Associate Professor in Political Ecology

Dr Cullen is a human geographer that primarily examines issues of livelihood transitions, territoriality and environmental subjectivity through a political ecology lens. His research has been attentive to state – community tensions in relation to land rights and post-conflict conservation governance across Southeast Asia, but with particular interest in Timor-Leste.


Prior to joining Cambridge University, Dr Cullen was a Lecturer at the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne where he also completed his PhD. He is also an experienced international development practitioner having worked broadly across issues including local governance, land conflict, microfinance and public transport in Southeast Asia.

– Not currently available for new PhD supervisions.


  • 2019 – Present: University Lecturer, Department of Geography, University Cambridge
  • 2017 – 2018: Lecturer, School of Geography, University of Melbourne
  • 2016: Lecturer, Monash University
  • 2012-2013: Graduate Research Visitor, McGill University


  • 2016: PhD Geography, University of Melbourne
  • 2004: BSci (Hons) Geography, University of Western Australia


Alexander is interested broadly in the politics of environmental change and land conflict in Southeast Asia, with attention directed specifically to post-independence Timor-Leste. In general, the following themes are of interest:

  • Customary resource management and rural livelihood transitions
  • Conservation and conflict governance in the global south
  • The role of nature in the construction of post-conflict national identity, subjectivities and citizenship
  • Participatory GIS and local ontologies

Current research is attentive to interrogating how power and discursive authority mediate forms of livelihood governance and is negotiated by different stakeholders in the post-conflict context. He is particularly concerned with the assemblage and articulation of environmental and climate imperatives and their increasing utilisation by powerful actors in the production of development and state-building projects – most saliently when these involve resettlement and/or resource expropriation. Also of concern are post-colonial and critical GIS applications in indigenous landscapes.

Current projects

  • Climate Change in Myanmar and the Politics of the New Yangon City
  • Socio-political Dimensions of ICT Ecosystem Monitoring in Papua New Guinea
  • Histories of Resistance Music in Timor-Leste


  • Cullen, A. (2021) ‘Governing Climate Across Ontological Frictions in Timor-Leste’, Chapter 9 in: Governing Climate Change: Critical Persoectives from Southeast Asia, Edited by Marquardt, J., Delina, L. and Smits, M., Routledge
  • Cullen, A. (2020) ‘Transitional Environmentality – Understanding uncertainty at the junctures of eco-logical production in Timor-Leste’, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 3(2), pp. 423–441. doi: 10.1177/2514848620908201.
  • Mooney, W. and Cullen, A. (2019) Implementing the Aboriginal Waterways Assessment Tool: Collaborations to engage and empower First nations in waterway management, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 26:3, 197-215, DOI: 10.1080/14486563.2019.1645752
  • Cullen, A. (2019) “Timor-Leste. The land of gold: Post-conflict recovery and cultural revival in independent Timor-Leste By Judith M. Bovensiepen Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University, 2015. Pp. 216. Illustrations, Maps.,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. Cambridge University Press, 50(2), pp. 307–309. doi: 10.1017/S0022463419000122.
  • Cullen, A. (2015), Making Sense of Claims Across Institutional Divides: Critical PGIS and Mapping Customary Land in Timor-Leste, Australian Geographer, 46:4, p473-490
  • Batterbury, S., Palmer, L., Reuter, T., De Carvalho, D. D. A., Kehi, B., & Cullen, A. (2015) Land access and livelihoods in post-conflict Timor-Leste: no magic bullets. International Journal of The Commons, 9:2.
  • Cullen, A. (2012), The Political Ecology of Land Tenure in Timor Leste, Chapter 23 in: New Research on Timor-Leste, Leach, Mendes, da Silva, Boughton and da Costa Ximenes (eds.), Hawthorn: Swinburne Press p158-167


  • Part IB Inequality
  • Part IB Development Theories, Policies and Practices
  • Part II Political Ecology in the Global South
  • Coordinator for Undergraduate dissertations