Dr Ed Atkins

Dr Ed Atkins

Dr Ed Atkins

University Road, Clifton, Bristol
(See a map)


Telephone Number (0117) 954 5973
favicon  Academia.edu

School of Geographical Sciences


Personal profile

I am currently a Lecturer at the School of Geographical Sciences, both leading and supporting on a number of units offered at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

I first arrived at the University of Bristol in Autumn 2013, to complete an ESRC-funded PhD in Environment, Energy & Resilience (awarded in 2018). In addition, I hold a BA (Hons) in History and an MA in International Relations and International Law from the University of Kent. As part of an ESRC 1+3 scholarship, I have also completed a supplementary MRes at the University of Bristol.


My research is based on the contested character of environmental and energy policy, politics and governance. This is with a particular focus on the local politics of energy generation and consumption – and moves across three interrelated themes:

  1. The contentious politics of hydropower
    Current research explores the contested sustainability of hydropower in the Brazilian Amazon. In particular, I am interested in how social movements and civil society actors have contested the Belo Monte and São Luiz do Tapajós dams, exploring how such responses challenge dominant understandings of hydropower as a ‘sustainable’ energy source that has a role in energy transitions.

  2. The localised energy demands of cryptocurrencies – and wider digital technologies
    Whilst the above project explores the contested character of energy production, I am starting new work that focuses on an emergent use of energy in the 21st century. This analyses the role that energy demands associated with the generation of cryptocurrencies play in patterns of uneven development, globalisation and energy justice, as well as necessitating new policy regimes.

  3. ‘Just transition’
    Situated at the point that the two above strands of work meet, my work on the concept of ‘just transition’ explores or how environmental and energy policy must be equitable and inclusive. Whilst there is an urgency around discussing and mitigating climate change, it is important to ensure that segments of our community (at local, national and global levels) are not left behind or unsupported. This work explores how policy concepts, such as a Green New Deal, can piece together an energy transition that works for everyone.

    In exploring this topic, I have grown particularly interested in the concept of 'contested sustainabilities', in which the ambiguity of contemporary notions of sustainability have given rise to divergent - and, at times, conflicting pathways of sustainable development.


Based at the School of Geographical Sciences, I currently teach on the following units:

World in Crisis? (GEOG16001)

Key Concepts in Human and Physical Geography (GEOG10003)

Sustainable Development (UNIV10001)

Environmental Policy and Politics (GEOGM1409)

Sustainability, Risk and Resilience in the Urban Age (GEOGM0037)


I have previously taught on the following undergraduate units:

School of Geographical Sciences

2017/18 - State, Economy and Society in Geographical Perspective: Part 2 - Development, Democracy and (In)Equality (GEOG20005)

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

2016/17 -  Comparative Government and Politics (POLI11103)
2015/16 - International Political Economy (SPAI10005)


Fields of interest

Hydropolitics, Environmental Politics, Environmental Conflict, Water Scarcity, International Development

Latest publications

  1. Atkins, E, 2019, ‘Disputing the 'National Interest': The depoliticization and repoliticization of the Belo Monte Dam, Brazil’. Water, vol 11.
  2. Atkins, E, 2018, ‘Dams, political framing and sustainability as an empty signifier: the case of Belo Monte’. Area, vol 50., pp. 232-239
  3. Atkins, E, 2018, ‘Building a dam, constructing a nation: The 'drowning' of Capel Celyn’. Journal of Historical Sociology, vol 31., pp. 455-468
  4. Atkins, E, 2018, ‘Deflective Discourse and Sustainable Development’. in: Beatriz Felipe Pérez, Daniel Iglesias Márquez, Lorena Martínez Hernández (eds) Rethinking Sustainable Development in Terms of Justice: Issues of Theory, Law and Governance. Cambridge Scholars Press, pp. 70-88
  5. Atkins, E, 2017, ‘Dammed and Diversionary: The multi-dimensional framing of Brazil’s Belo Monte dam’. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol 38., pp. 276-292
  6. Atkins, E, 2017, ‘Saltwater Geopolitics in North America’. in: Gustavo Sosa-Nunez (eds) Widening the Scope of Environmental Policies in North America: Towards Blue Approaches. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 35-56
  7. Atkins, E, 2016, ‘Environmental Conflict: A Misnomer?’. in: G Sosa-Nunez, E Atkins (eds) Environment, Climate Change & International Relations. E-International Relations
  8. Sosa-Nunez, G & Atkins, E, 2016, ‘Environment, Climate Change & International Relations’. E-International Relations
  9. Atkins, EK, 2014, ‘Beyond State-Fetishism: the Case for Neoliberalism as a Hydro-Hegemon’. School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies; University of Bristol

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Edit this profile If you are Dr Ed Atkins, you can edit this page. Login required.