Emma Gilberthorpe


  • 1.18A ZICER Building

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

Teaching Interests

I teach at undergraduate and postgraduate level in the areas of anthropology, globalisation, CSR and extractive industry


Before joining the School of International Development in 2010 I did post-doctoral research in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University and was the 2004 RAI Fellow in Urgent Anthropology. Between 2005 and 2010 I was a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University. I was awarded the Higher Education Academy Fellowship in 2009.

Academic Background

I have a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Queensland and a Masters in the Anthropology of Art from UCL.


As an anthropologist I am concerned with the social and cultural aspects of development. My main area of research examines the parameters of social organisation, kinship and exchange in contexts of large-scale resource extraction (mining and oil/gas extraction). I am particularly interested in the implications of the cultural incompatibilities that exist between large-scale, capitalist corporations and small-scale societies. The majority of my work has focused on the social, economic, political and environmental impacts of mining (Ok Tedi) and oil extraction (Kutubu) in Papua New Guinea. I have also conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Guinea, West Africa and managed projects in Zambia.

Research Students:

Dr Horacio Almanza Alcalde – 'Land Dispossession and Juridical Land Disputes of Indigenous Peoples in Northern Mexico: A Structural Domination Approach'. PhD passed July 2013 – Congratulations Horacio!

Dr Daniela Sanchez Lopez – ‘Extractivism, narratives of development and changing modes of governance in Bolivia’. PhD passed May 2018. Congratulations Daniela!!

Dr Jessica Jones – ‘An investigation into the effect of large-scale industrial iron ore mining on women’s gender roles in post-conflict Sierra Leone’. PhD passed Dec 2019. Congratulations Jess!!!

Dr Megan Pay - Coastal Virtues and Oceanic Vices: The Mounstrous in Southern African Narratives of Human-Animal Waterside Relationships. PhD passed January 2024. congratulations Megan!!!

Dr Cindy Wilhelm - Inclusive 'Guineisation'?: The Implmenetation of Local Content Policies in Guinea's Bauxite Industry. PhD passed May 2024. congratulations Cindy!!!

Mr Kevin Arbizu Berrocal: Exploring the effects of mining activities on economic growth and development in Peru

Mr Samuel Jones: Environmental justice and corporate activism: the mobilisation of Indigenous communities against extractive industries

Information for Prospective Students:

I am happy to supervise Masters and PhD students interested in the following topics: anthropology; extractive industries (minerals, energy, metals); CSR; Indigenous knowledge; Indigenous livelihoods; social impact.

Recommended links:

'From the Horse’s Mouth: perceptions of development from Papua New Guinea'
Testimonial film about oil extraction and mining in Papua New Guinea: As 2 major resource extraction industries face closure (Kutubu oil extraction and Ok Tedi copper/gold mine) in Papua New Guinea, indigenous people and corporate representatives were asked what 'development' and 'sustainable development' meant to them and what they thought the future would bring. View the film

My monograph ‘Development and Industry’ is available here

My edited book (with Gavin Hilson) is available to order here

Consultancy: SEIA

Along with a selective team of researchers I can provide a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment for multinationals seeking to develop mining or other extractive industry in vulnerable locations. Please contact Katharine Trott in DEVCo to request a proposal and budget. 

Key Research Interests

Research Interests:

  • Anthropology
  • Interdisciplinary and international research on international development
  • Resource extraction (mining, oil, gas)
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Development policy
  • Socioeconomic security
  • Sustainability
  • Ethics and rapid social change

Area expertise: Asia-Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa.

Research Groups: Politics, Governance and the State


Current research project:

GCRF-ESRC New Models of Sustainable Development call. Indigenous-International Interactions for Sustainable Development (INDIS).


Previous Research includes:

HEA: ‘Anthropology and Development’

This project involved the preparation and delivery of one-day workshops on global issues at high schools. The ‘Development Days’ were delivered by postgraduate students, enhancing their learning experience and providing training in leadership, team working, teaching and organisation.

British Academy:  ‘The Long-Term Impact of Extractive Industry on Indigenous Livelihoods’

This project involved research in Ok Tedi and Kutubu, Papua New Guinea, drawing findings into wider debates on resource extraction to identify patterns of industrial impingement. It included an interdisciplinary conference with case studies from South America, south-east Asia, Australia, Africa, Oceania and Russia. The book Natural Resource Extraction and Indigenous Livelihoods: Development Challenges in an Era of Globalization (2014, co-edit with Professor Gavin Hilson) is the outcome of the project.

HEA: ‘Integrating Video and Teaching in Higher Education’.

This project developed a range of e-learning tools to assist students working on development-related problems in the social sciences. It produced a meta description of the content of the film From the Horse's Mouth: Perceptions of Development from Papua New Guinea (Gilberthorpe 2005), and video exercises tailored around the key issues it raised.

RAI: ‘Knowledge Transfer: Experiments in Methodology’

This project combined ethnographic and visual media to facilitate knowledge transfer in development contexts. I used visual media to record people’s perceptions of development in two areas affected by resource extraction in Papua New Guinea. The finished edited film 'From the Horse’s Mouth: perceptions of development from Papua New Guinea' (Gilberthorpe 2005) shows diverse perceptions of those caught up in the process of resource extraction: corporate personnel, landowners and non-landowners. NB: The views presented by Oil Search personnel are personal and do not necessarily represent the views of Oil Search Limited.
View the film below or on YouTube.

Nuffield: ‘Mediation and Mining’

This project compared mining royalty acquisition, measured levels of inequality in mining contexts and assessed levels of mediation between the corporate sector and indigenous populations in Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi region.

Industry-funded PhD Scholarship ‘Fasu Cosmology’

My doctorate studies were fully funded by the Joint Venture Partners for Petroleum Development, Papua New Guinea. This involved 14 months of research in Papua New Guinea, where I lived with the Fasu language group, hosts to the Kutubu Oil Project. Research in this area is ongoing and an ethnographic monograph based on my doctorate findings is in development.

Ethnographic Films:

Gilberthorpe, E. & N. Peduzzi
2009 The Allotment. 20 minutes. Manchester: Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology.
Link to film (via YouTube)

Gilberthorpe, E.
2009 From the Horse’s Mouth: Perceptions of Development from Papua New Guinea. Re-edited film. 40 minutes. Canterbury: CSAC.
Link to film (via YouTube - available to view in 4 sections)

Gilberthorpe, E.
2005 From the Horse’s Mouth: Perceptions of Development from Papua New Guinea. Documentary Film. 55 minutes. Australia: Darkwood Films.

Areas of Expertise

Anthropology; interdisciplinary and international research on international development; resource extraction (mining and hydrocarbons); Corporate Social Responsibility; development policy; socioeconomic security; sustainability; qualitative methods; ethics and rapid social change. Area of expertise: Asia-Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

External positions

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Queensland

Media Expertise

  • Energy
  • Environmental Politics
  • Green technology
  • Impacts of climate change
  • International development
  • Sustainable business
  • Sustainable development
  • Wellbeing at work

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or