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Professor Sarah A Radcliffe

Professor Sarah A Radcliffe

Professor of Latin American Geography and Fellow of Christ's College

Management Committee, Centre of Latin American Studies



  • 1986-1987: Post-Doctoral Researcher, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Liverpool
  • 1987-1990: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge
  • 1990-1995: Lecturer, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London
  • 1995-2002: University Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2002-2008: Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2008-2012: Reader in Latin American Geography, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2012- present: Professor of Latin American Geography


  • BSc Geography and Anthropology, University College London
  • PhD on Migration, Rural Households and Andean Development, University of Liverpool


Research interests

Social and Territorial Inequalities in Latin America research programme

Sarah's research interests fall into four major areas:

  • Equality in diversity: policy, practice and people in Ecuador's Buen Vivir. Funded by the British Academy, Isaac Newton Trust, and ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, this research explores the institutional, conceptual and socio-political dynamics associated with implementing a rights-based form of citizenship and development. Ongoing research in Ecuador speaks to debates around participatory and inclusive development, while also providing lessons for the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Intersectional dynamics of power, development and new forms of knowledge production. Recent research examined Indigenous women's experiences of exclusion from development and their intersectional proposals for policy change (funded by ESRC).
  • Decolonial Geographies: I am interested in the ways in which we could learn about, write, and do geography in ways that open it out to other ways of seeing, living in and knowing the world. I was Chair for the 2017 Royal Geographical Society with IBG conference, which addressed the theme 'Decolonising Geographical Knowledges' and I run a Decolonial Research Lab with graduates and post-docs. Listen here to a seminar given by Sarah Radcliffe on the topic of decolonizing development and contemporary politics in Ecuador. The seminar was given at the Institute for the Americas in December 2015.
  • Subaltern bureaucrats and socio-spatial dynamics of power. I am interested in the co-production of states and subjects in postcolonial contexts where racialized women and men are employed as civil servants to provide services to multiethnic citizens. This interest emerged through a project on "Intercultural Bilingual Education in Chilean classrooms: Exploring youth identities, multiculturalism and nationalism" (ESRC funded 2011-14). See paper in Comparative Studies in Society and History.

Research students

Sarah has supervised numerous PhD students (both UK and overseas), and welcomes enquiries from prospective applicants interested in pursuing PhD research at Cambridge on topics related to her own research (postneoliberal development and governance; social heterogeneity (intersectionality) and development policies, the postcolonial politics of territory and cartography). Recent and current PhD topics include:

  • Indigeneity and diaspora political geographies among Amazigh in Paris
  • Low income urban Indigenous women's work in the plurinational state of Bolivia
  • Indigenous women, gender-ethnic performance and political participation in Yucatán, Mexico
  • Grounded experiences of low-income rural women of Peru's Conditional Cash Transfer
  • Indigenous women and boundary-making power on the Ecuador-Colombia border

Potential PhD students

I am currently interested in supervising work on contentious politics around social difference, citizenship and state policy in Andean countries; the politics of 'leave no one behind' agendas in the Sustainable Development Goals and post-neoliberal states; and new patterns of Indigenous geographies and intersectional dynamics. My own research has focused on the Andean countries, although I have also supervised students' work in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the United States and indigeneity in Europe. If you have another topic in mind, you're welcome to contact me directly if you think there may be interests in common.

Reading group


Selected recent publications:


  • Book cover2009 Indigenous Development in the Andes: Culture, Power, and Transnationalism. Duke University Press, Durham and London
  • 2006 Culture and Development in a Globalizing World: geographies, actors and paradigms. S A Radcliffe (Editor). Routledge. 280pp.
  • 1996 Re-Making the Nation: place, politics and identity in Latin America. S A Radcliffe and S Westwood. Routledge. 196pp. [Published in Spanish translation in Ecuador in 1999.]
  • 1993 Viva: women and popular protest in Latin America, S A Radcliffe and S Westwood (Editors). Routledge. 264pp.

Journal articles (selected)

  • 'Geography and Indigeneity II: Critical geographies of indigenous bodily politics.' Progress in Human Geography Online First DoI 10.1177/0309132517691631 (2017)
  • 'Mapuche Youth between Exclusion and the Future: Protest, civil society and participation in Chile.' Children's Geographies 14(1): 1-19. DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2014.964667 (2016)
  • 'Geography and Indigeneity I: Indigeneity, coloniality and knowledge. Progress in Human Geography 41(2) 220–229 DoI 10.1177/0309132515612952 (2015)
  • 'Subaltern Bureaucrats: Indigenous professional registers of engagement with the Chilean state.' Comparative Studies in Society and History 57 (1): 248-273 (2015). First author with A J Webb.
  • 'Whitened geographies and education inequalities in southern Chile,' Journal of Intercultural Studies 36 (2): 129-148, (2015) with A Webb
  • 'Gendered frontiers of land control: Indigenous territory, women and contests over land in Ecuador.' Gender, Place and Culture 2013 DoI:10.1080/0966369X.2013.802675
  • 'Mapuche demands during educational reform, the Penguin Revolution and the Chilean Winter of Discontent.' Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 13 (3): 319-341, 2013
  • 'The ethno-environmental fix and its limits: Indigenous land titling and the production of not-quite-neoliberal natures in Bolivia,' with P. Anthias. Special issue 'Not quite neoliberal natures' K. Bakker (ed.) Geoforum 2013 doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.06.007
  • 'Development for a postneoliberal era? Sumak kawsay, living well and the limits to decolonization in Ecuador'. Geoforum (2012) 43: 240-249. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.09.003
  • 'Dismantling Gaps and Myths: How indigenous political actors broke the mould of socioeconomic development', in Special issue on 'The rise of indigenous populations as political actors in the 21st century.' Brown Journal of World Affairs 18 (2) 2012
  • 'Ethnicity, development and gender: Tsachila indigenous women in Ecuador', with A.Pequeno. Development and Change 41 (6): 983-1016(2010)
  • 'Relating to the land: multiple geographical imaginations and lived-in landscapes', Response to Peter Hulme's 2011 RGS-IBG Plenary lecture, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 2012.
  • 'Environmentalist thinking and/in geography.' Progress in Human Geography 34(1): 98-116, with E.Watson, I. Simmons, A. Fernández-Armesto, and A. Sluyter (2010)
  • "Re-Mapping the Nation: Cartography, geographical knowledge and Ecuadorian multiculturalism" Journal of Latin American Studies 42(2) May 2010: 293-323
  • 'National maps, digitalisation and neoliberal cartographies: Transforming nation-state practices and symbols in postcolonial Ecuador.' Trans. Institute of British Geographers October 2009, 34: 426-444.
  • 'Development and geography II: Towards a postcolonial development geography?' Progress in Human Geography 2005 29 (3): 291-298
  • 'Neoliberalism as we know it, but not in conditions of its own choosing: A Commentary', Environment and Planning A, part of a special issue on 'Geographies of neoliberalism in Latin America', 2005, T Perreault and P Martin (Editors) 37: 323-329
  • 'Development and Culture: transnational identity making in Latin America', R Andolina, S A Radcliffe and N Laurie Political Geography 2005, 24 (6): 678-702 (August)
  • 'Ethno-development: social movements, creating experts and professionalising indigenous knowledge in Ecuador' N Laurie, R Andolina and S A Radcliffe Antipode: Journal of Radical Geography 2005, 39 (3): 470-496

Book chapters (selected)

  • 2016 'The Difference Indigeneity Makes: Socio-natures, knowledges and contested policy,' in M Raftopoulos & M Coletta (eds.) Provincializing Nature: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Politics of the Environment in Latin America. ILAS Book Series, London, pp.161-185.
  • 2016 'Civil society: Management, Mismanagement and Informal Governance,' in D. Hammett & J Grugel (eds.) Handbook of International Development. London, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2015 'Gender and Postcolonialism,' in A. Coles, L. Gray and J. Momsen (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development. Routledge, pp. 35-46.
  • 2014 'Genre, race et appartenance ethnique comme freins au développement' [Gender and race-ethnicity as barriers to development], in H. Guetat-Bernard and M. Saussey (eds.) Genre et savoirs: pratiques et innovations rurales au Sud. Marseille, IRD Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, pp.61-83.
  • 2014 'Plural knowledges and Modernity: Social difference and geographical explanations,' in K. Okamoto and Y. Ishikawa (eds) Traditional wisdom and modern knowledge for the earth's future. Springer. International Perspectives in Geography 1, pp.79-102.
  • 2011 'Third Space, abstract space and coloniality: National and subaltern cartography in Ecuador,' in Postcolonial Spaces: The politics of place in contemporary culture, A Teverson and S Upstone (eds.). London, Palgrave.
  • 2011 'Representing the Nation' in Mapping Latin America: Space and Society, 1492-2000. K Offen and J Dym (eds), Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
  • 2010 'Epílogo: Historias de vida de mujeres indígenas a través de la educación y el liderazgo: Intersecciones de raza, género y locación' [Indigenous women's life-histories through education and leadership: Intersections of race, gender and location] in Celebraciones centenarias y negociaciones por la nación ecuatoriana. V Coronel and M Prieto (eds.), pp.317-348. Quito: FLACSO, Sede Ecuador and Ecuador Ministry of Culture.
  • 2008 "Women's movements in Ecuador in the twentieth century," in C. de la Torre and S. Striffler (eds.) The Ecuador Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Duke University Press, Durham and London, pp. 284-296.
  • 2008 "Governance, citizenship and Ecuadorian indigenous women" [Las mujeres indígenas ecuatorianas bajo la gobernabilidad multicultural y de género], in P Wade, F Urrea, & M Viveros (eds) Raza, etnicidad y sexualidades: ciudadanía y multiculturalismo en América Latina. Univalle /La Universidad Nacional, Bogota, Colombia. pp. 105-136


Sarah teaches on undergraduate courses in the Geographical Tripos:

  • Second Year: Ciitzenship, Cities and Civil Society
  • Third Year: Political Geography of Postcolonialism

External activities

  • Chair of the Management Committee of Centre of Latin American Studies