Edinburgh Research Explorer

Marisa Wilson

Senior Lecturer

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Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

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

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Social Science, University of Oxford
Master of Social Science, University of Oxford
Bachelor of Literature or Bachelor of Letters, University of California, Berkeley
Bachelor of Social Science, University of California, Berkeley

Professional Qualifications

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy of Britain

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseEthnography and qualitative research; agriculture, food and eating; global political economy of food; social values and practices of agroecology; ethical consumption; alternative ('post-capitalist') economies; Cuba; Trinidad and Tobago; Latin America and the Caribbean


I am a Senior Lecturer in Critical Human Geography at the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, and a Research Associate in Human Geography at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. The different strands of my research are bound by two themes: the socialities of alternative food networks and, more recently, political economic and cultural factors leading to dietary and food systems change. I seek to understand and explain everyday barriers and opportunities for more equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems, particularly (though not exclusively) in post-colonial contexts.  My email address is: marisa.wilson@ed.ac.uk

Research Interests

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

Research Groups

Cultural and Historical Geography Research Group, Human Geography Research Group, Population Health and Place Research Group, Global Development Academy, Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies

My research in a nutshell

My primary research aim is to develop interdisciplinary ideas and practices that can be used to create (more) sustainable and socially-just food systems. My recent work on Trinidad (Wilson 2016, 2017; Wilson and McLennan 2019) illustrates cultural reasonings behind the consumption of highly unhealthy processed foods, and political economic, racialised and historical reasons for progressively destructive agricultural land use (Wilson 2016, 2017). I use a comparative historical approach to identify particular characteristics (e.g. rural and racial marginalisation, land monopolies, values of modernity, the vertical integration of supply chains) that make Trinidad and Tobago an exemplar of postcolonial island food economies, vis-à-vis Cuba (Wilson 2017) which has a very different political and moral economic structure (Wilson 2012, 2014a, 2014b). I am currently exploring the use of digital methods to increase understandings of sugar’s complex and transnational histories and geographies in Scotland and the West Indies. 

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