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Elena Burgos Martinez

University Lecturer South and Southeast Asian Studies

Dr. E.E. Burgos Martinez
+31 71 527 5273

I am an environmental anthropologist and a political ecologist based at Leiden University's Institute for Area Studies: School of Asian Studies, where I coordinate and lecture in a variety of theoretical and methodological courses at BA, MA and PhD level, including courses focused on ecofeminism on islands in Asia and Oceania, the politics of decoloniality in academia, and environmental politics. My courses and research are transdisciplinary at all levels: from conceptual inception and methodological affinities to ethical considerations. Positionality and reflexivity are central to my research and teaching. I am available to supervise the work of Research Masters, Master students and PhD candidates, whose research focuses on maritime encounters in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic, environmental colonialism, contemporary (non-positivist) notions of sustainability and toxicity, the political ecology of waste and crisis, and any ideas that offer critical and contextualised perspectives to environmental topics and problematic.

More information about Elena Burgos Martinez


For more than a decade, I have extensively researched in cross-regional, local and collaborative processes of environmental knowledge production and human-environment relations in multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural islands across Indonesia, the UK and Spain- through the lenses of critical research methods: such as positionality, storytelling, photo-voice, spot-observation (regulated by daily rhythms) and reflective participant observation.  I have more specifically focused on the semantic expansion of local conceptions and practices of (un) sustainability and toxicity across seas in Northeastern Indonesia and the English Channel. The figure of the so-called ‘small island’ works as a method which challenges state-centric constructions of socioenvironmental identity and relations, at the same time as it helps re-read environmental problematic in historical continuity and beyond dichotomies of land and sea, human and hon-human, nature and society. More recently, I have conducted collaborative research on the politics of waste management and dependency networks within capitals in the Netherlands. My interest in waste as a figure that visibilises existing inequalities and legacies of environmental racism extends to the accumulation of plastic waste in maritime settings in Southeast Asia. Currently, my research aims to incorporate local oral (hi)stories and anthropological approaches to archival theory and methodologies to contribute to a fairer understanding of transoceanic and maritime relations that were and are defining for what we now call environmental history. I am interested in the archival journeys of 'invisible actors': human and inhuman.

I am also actively engaged in the re-conceptualising and re-theorising of formalised notions of relationality, place and space within fields like Island Studies, and the Environmental Social Sciences and Humanities.

Curriculum vitae

  • BKO (Basiskwalificatie Onderwijs)- Leiden University (Netherlands)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Durham University, England)
  • PhD in Environmental Anthropology, Durham University (in progress)
  • PhD in Sociolinguistics (Edinburgh University, Scotland)
  • MSc in Social Anthropology (Edinburgh University, Scotland)
  • MSc in Education and Language (Edinburgh University, Scotland)
  • MA in Pedagogy (Granada University, Spain)
  • BSc in Geology (Granada University, Spain)


  • Political Ecology: Human-Environment Relations and Caring (BA)
  • Politics in South and Southeast Asia (BA)
  • Ecofeminism in Island Asia and Ocenia (MA and Res MA)
  • PhD Seminar: the Politics of Decolonisation in Academia      

University Lecturer South and Southeast Asian Studies

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS Indonesie


  • Worldwide Waste: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies Co-editor (editorial board)
  • Island Studies Journal Associate Editor
  • e-Struktural: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture (Indonesia) Member of the Editorial and Academic Board
  • Leiden University's Honours Academy Co-coordinator for the Pre-University College Programme in Den Haag
  • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain Reviewer
  • Teaching Anthropology Journal Reviewer
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