Dr Ed Atkins

Dr Ed Atkins

Dr Ed Atkins

University Road, Clifton, Bristol
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Telephone Number (0117) 954 5973
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School of Geographical Sciences

Personal profile

I am currently a Teaching Fellow at the School of Geographical Sciences, both leading and supporting on a number of units offered at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

I first arrived at the University of Bristol in Autumn 2013, to complete an ESRC-funded PhD in Environment, Energy & Resilience (awarded in 2018). In addition, I hold a BA (Hons) in History and an MA in International Relations and International Law from the University of Kent. As part of an ESRC 1+3 scholarship, I have also completed a supplementary MRes at the University of Bristol.


My research is based on the contested character of environmental policy, politics and governance. This currently moves across three interrelated themes: the contentious politics of hydropower, the role of these hydroelectric projects in contemporary sustainable development agendas, and the potential role of alternatives to development in environmental policy.

This research draws from the field of political ecology and work on the post-political to explore how current notions of sustainability and the paradigm of sustainable development can be re-politicised - and filled with a more inclusive meaning.

In exploring this topic, I have grown particularly interested in the concept of 'contested sustainabilities', in which the ambiguity of contemporary notions of sustainability have given rise to divergent - and, at times, conflicting pathways of sustainable development.

Having conducted an interdisciplinary PhD, I am committed to engaging in work that sits across traditional academic disciplines - drawing on my educational background in History, International Relations and International Law, and now Human and Political Geography.


Based at the School of Geographical Sciences, I currently teach on the following units:

World in Crisis? (GEOG16001)

Key Concepts in Human and Physical Geography (GEOG10003)

Sustainable Development (UNIV10001)

Environmental Policy and Politics (GEOGM1409)

Sustainability, Risk and Resilience in the Urban Age (GEOGM0037)


I have previously taught on the following undergraduate units:

School of Geographical Sciences

2017/18 - State, Economy and Society in Geographical Perspective: Part 2 - Development, Democracy and (In)Equality (GEOG20005)

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

2016/17 -  Comparative Government and Politics (POLI11103)
2015/16 - International Political Economy (SPAI10005)


Fields of interest

Hydropolitics, Environmental Politics, Environmental Conflict, Water Scarcity, International Development

Latest publications

  1. Atkins, E, 2019, ‘Disputing the 'National Interest': The depoliticization and repoliticization of the Belo Monte Dam, Brazil’. Water, vol 11.
  2. Atkins, E, 2018, ‘Dams, political framing and sustainability as an empty signifier: the case of Belo Monte’. Area, vol 50., pp. 232-239
  3. Atkins, E, 2018, ‘Building a dam, constructing a nation: The 'drowning' of Capel Celyn’. Journal of Historical Sociology, vol 31., pp. 455-468
  4. Atkins, E, 2018, ‘Deflective Discourse and Sustainable Development’. in: Beatriz Felipe Pérez, Daniel Iglesias Márquez, Lorena Martínez Hernández (eds) Rethinking Sustainable Development in Terms of Justice: Issues of Theory, Law and Governance. Cambridge Scholars Press, pp. 70-88
  5. Atkins, E, 2017, ‘Dammed and Diversionary: The multi-dimensional framing of Brazil’s Belo Monte dam’. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol 38., pp. 276-292
  6. Atkins, E, 2017, ‘Saltwater Geopolitics in North America’. in: Gustavo Sosa-Nunez (eds) Widening the Scope of Environmental Policies in North America: Towards Blue Approaches. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 35-56
  7. Atkins, E, 2016, ‘Environmental Conflict: A Misnomer?’. in: G Sosa-Nunez, E Atkins (eds) Environment, Climate Change & International Relations. E-International Relations
  8. Sosa-Nunez, G & Atkins, E, 2016, ‘Environment, Climate Change & International Relations’. E-International Relations
  9. Atkins, EK, 2014, ‘Beyond State-Fetishism: the Case for Neoliberalism as a Hydro-Hegemon’. School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies; University of Bristol

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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