Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

food movements in Latin America and the Caribbean or Scotland; historical and geographical trajectories of single commodities; moral economies and geographies of food; geographies of (de)commodification; interdisciplinary social scientific research related to agri-food systems and development

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Personal profile


I am a senior lecturer in critical human geography at the University of Edinburgh. Most of my research centres on alternatives to the corporate food regime in the Caribbean. I am increasingly interested in how sensory, digital and performative methods may be used to co-create stories about transnational food commodities such as sugar. 

Current research 

Much of my research has dealt with the structural violence of food systems, or how histories and geographies of uneven development enable or disable healthier and more sustainable food systems. The counterpart to structural violence is symbolic or epistemic violence, or the predominance of particular moral narratives (e.g. of ‘progress’ or ‘modernity’) that can prevent historically marginalised peoples from locating themselves and their own experiences in food systems change. My current research projects (Living Histories of Sugar in the West Indies and Scotland: and Recipes for Resilience:, both funded by the AHRC, centre on the latter form of violence. More specifically, I ask whether and how new methods (digital mapping, storytelling, immersive performance, songwriting) can be used to involve historically marginalised peoples in the (re)interpretation of complex and contested histories and geographies of food.

Next steps 

I have studied Cuba's national food sovereignty project and I am currently asking questions regarding who is included, who is excluded, and whether and how Cuba's so-called 'alternative food network' is hindered by long-term racial inequalities in access to land. I am developing a project with academics and activists in the Caribbean that seeks to increase recognition of and respect for Afrodescendant farmers in the Americas, who have maintained culinary and agrobio- diversity since the time of slavery.  

Research Interests

Food-related inequalities and agrarian change; qualitative approaches to nutrition transition and food systems; Latin America and the Caribbean; transnational sugar histories; moral economies and moral economy research; politics of scale; mainstream and alternative value systems

Research Groups

Geography of Social Justice Research Group, Cultural and Historical Geography Research Group, Sustainable Rural and Agricultural Development Research Group (University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, steering group member), Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies

My research in a nutshell

Marisa Wilson’s work focuses on historical, political and cultural economies of agri-food networks, with a focus on Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and trans-Atlantic sugar networks linking the West Indies and Scotland. She uses ethnographic, oral history and visual/digital methods to increase understandings of food production and consumption in (post)colonial contexts. Her work on Caribbean food economies illustrates cultural, historical and political economic reasons behind food preferences, agricultural land use and, more recently, the outcomes of nutrition and other interventions aimed at re-localising food. She is currently exploring the use of digital methods such as story maps to create people-led understandings and alternatives to corporate food networks.



Research in a nutshell video:   


Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Social Science, University of Oxford

Award Date: 1 Jan 2009

Master of Social Science, University of Oxford

Award Date: 1 Jan 2004

Bachelor of Literature or Bachelor of Letters, University of California, Berkeley

Award Date: 1 Jan 2002

Bachelor of Social Science, University of California, Berkeley

Award Date: 1 Jan 2002


  • G Geography (General)
  • HB Economic Theory
  • GN Anthropology
  • GT Manners and customs
  • S Agriculture (General)
  • JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
  • F1201 Latin America (General)
  • JF Political institutions (General)
  • GE Environmental Sciences


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