Matthew Abel

Graduate Student of Sociocultural Anthropology

Research Interests

My research focuses on the cumulative impacts of government policy on rural social organization in Brazil's Amazon estuary region, and how smallholder farmers adapt social institutions to manage their relationship to new cycles of state developmentalism. Alongside previous ethnographic work with North American alternative agrifood activists, this project constitutes part of a broader interest in building links between political and environmental anthropology to examine how cycles of state intervention articulate with local social organization to constrain and enable possibilities for collective action over time.


National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, “Amazon developments: the impacts of public policy on rural social organization in Brazil’s Amazon estuary.”

Fulbright Fellow IIE, US State Department and Brazilian Fulbright Commission.

Samuel Hughes Scholarship, Washington University.

Beinecke Fellowship, Sperry Fund.


2022. “The struggle for health: medical brokerage and the power of care in Brazil’s Amazon estuary.” Cultural Anthropology. [Link

2022. “Merchants of the north: infrastructure and indebtedness along Brazil’s Amazon estuary.” Economic Anthropology. [Link

2021. “Soy Power” Review of Seeds of Power by Amalia Leguizamón and The Government of Beans by Kregg Hetherington. Nature Plants 7: 1533-1535. [Link] 

2021. “Transnational grain trade threatens Brazil’s Amazon,” NACLA Report on the Americas 53(1): [Link] [Português

2020. (Brent Kaup, Matthew Abel, and Amanda Sikirica). “Individualized environments, individual cures: an examination of Lyme disease activism in Virginia.” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. [Link]

2018. (Andrew Flachs and Matthew Abel). “An emerging geography of the agrarian question: spatial analysis as a tool for identifying the new American agrarianism.”  Rural Sociology 84 (2). [Link]


contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
  • CB 1114
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis MO 63130

research interests:

  • Environmental Anthropology
  • Development Politics
  • Social Movements
  • Amazon
  • Brazil
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