Scott Matter


Scott Matter, Lecturer

  • Ph.D., McGill University, 2011
Area of expertise

Political and environmental anthropology, cultural politics, political ecology; ethnicity, inequality, land tenure, political representation, patronage, indigenous rights, forestry and conservation, pastoralism, foragers and former foragers, Maasai, Dorobo; Kenya, Africa

Contact Information
Phone: (802) 656-2107

Scott Matter, Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He entered university as an anthropology major and graduated with a B.A. (Honors) from the University of Alberta (2000). Before starting graduate school, he worked as a professional researcher on corporate social responsibility for a small consultancy and as a field researcher on aggression in bars for a research project run through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, both in Toronto. He received his M.A. (2005) and Ph.D. (2011) from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Most recently, he held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Dr. Matter has been conducting research in Kenya since 2003, originally focusing on ethno-political-environmental conflict. His doctoral project - Struggles over belonging: Insecurity, inequality, and the cultural politics of property at Enoosupukia, Kenya – looked at transformations in ethnic identity and territoriality, governance, and property regimes in colonial and postcolonial Kenya, and explores how the past influences current and future possibilities. His dissertation explored how marginalized rural Kenyans experience and navigate uncertainty and insecurity of land tenure, and how the contemporary property regime has been shaped by responses to successive governmental interventions. This work highlights the important role that social and political inequalities play in contexts of legal and institutional pluralism, as well as the ways that projects intended to further development and conservation can transform and be transformed by their local subjects.

His current research project examines the articulation of global institutions, networks, processes and discourses with local dynamics, in particular where the international Indigenous Peoples movement intersects with the emerging paradigm of carbon forestry. He has conducted early field work for this project in Kenya and at the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues in New York. This project is intended to investigate how different stakeholders conceptualize local communities and landscapes, and how new translocal and transnational connections reconfigure the dimensions of identity, political representation, sovereignty, and the environment.