College of Arts and Sciences
Meredith J. DeBoom joined the Department of Geography in 2018 after earning a Ph.D. in Geography with a Certificate in Development Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She also holds a B.A. in International Studies and Political Science with minors in Economics and Geography from the University of Iowa, where she was a Truman and Udall Scholar. Prior to her academic career, DeBoom worked in public policy with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Iowa Legislature.
DeBoom’s scholarship has been supported and/or recognized by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the National Science Foundation, and the University of Michigan Society of Fellows, among other entities. She is the President (2023–2025) of the American Association of Geographer’s Political Geography Specialty Group, a Visiting Geographical Scientist of the American Association of Geographers, and a Research Associate with the Second Cold War Observatory, an interdisciplinary and international research collaborative focused on how US-China competition is manifesting around the world.
DeBoom’s experience as a first-generation college student informs her teaching and
mentorship, which have been recognized with the Mungo Award for Undergraduate Teaching and the Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.
DeBoom’s research analyzes the distributive (geo)politics of extraction and development in and from Africa. She is particularly interested in how Africans are engaging with geopolitical transitions (e.g., the shift toward low-carbon energy, China’s rise) to pursue multi-scalar geostrategic and political economic goals—and with what implications, for whom, and where. Much of her recent work has centered on ‘climate necropolitics,’ or the processes, practices, discourses, and logics through which intensified violence against already-marginalized populations is rendered legitimate in the name of climate change response. Her work contributes to interdisciplinary scholarship on African (geo)politics, climate change and climate justice, global China and Africa-China relations, ‘green’ extractivism and low-carbon energy transitions, development-state relations, and anti/postcolonial theory.
DeBoom has conducted research in southern Africa since 2008, with a focus on Namibia. Her work addresses questions like the following:
- What roles do resources (e.g., uranium, hydrogen, phosphate) play in political processes, including geopolitical competition, state-making, development, nationalism, place-making, and rights claims-making?
- How are the politics of development and distribution in Africa changing in conjunction with regional and global changes (e.g., China’s rise, climate change)?
- How are the costs and benefits of climate change mitigation strategies (e.g., low-carbon energy, electric vehicles, ‘green’ extractivism) distributed, how are those distributions rendered legitimate and by whom, and through what types of politics can these distributive geographies be made more equitable and just?
She welcomes enquiries from prospective graduate students with research interests
in African (geo)politics, global China, ‘green’ extractivism, and low-carbon energy
- GEOG 121: Geographies of Global Change
- GEOG 228: Geography of Africa
- GEOG 380: Global Geography of Human Rights
- GEOG 515: Political Geography
- GEOG 735: Seminar in Political Geography
• Themes: Anti-Colonial Worldmaking (2023), Climates of Violence (2021)
- SCHC 437: Global Geography of Human Rights (Proseminar in Geography)
2023. “The Second Cold War: US-China Competition for Centrality in Infrastructure, Digital, Production, and Finance Networks.” Geopolitics. DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2023.2253432. (with S. Schindler, I. Alami, J. DiCarlo, et. al)
2022. “Climate Coloniality as Atmospheric Violence: From Necropolitics Toward Planetary Mutuality.” Political Geography 99: 102786.
2022. “Radioactive Strategies: Geopolitical Rivalries, African Agency, and the Longue Durée of Nuclear Infrastructures in Namibia.” In Seth Schindler and Jessica DiCarlo (eds), The Rise of the Infrastructure State: How US-China Rivalry Shapes Politics and Place Worldwide, p. 137-152. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
2021. “Climate Necropolitics: Ecological Civilization and the Distributive Geographies of Extractive Violence in the Anthropocene.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 111, no. 3: 900-912.
2021. “African countries are helping China go green. That may have a downside for Africans.” The Washington Post Monkey Cage. March 12.
2020 “Sovereignty and Climate Necropolitics: The Tragedy of the State System Goes ‘Green’.” In Moisio, Sami, Andrew E.G. Jonas, Natalie Koch, Christopher Lizotte, and Juho Luukkonen, (eds), Handbook on the Changing Geographies of the State: New Spaces of Geopolitics, p. 276–286. Northampton, UK: Edward Elgar.
2020 “Who is Afraid of ‘Debt-Trap Diplomacy’? Geopolitical Narratives, Agency, and the
Multiscalar Distribution of Risk.” Area Development and Policy 5, no. 1: 15–22.
2020 “Toward a More Sustainable Energy Transition: Lessons from Chinese Investments in Namibian Uranium.” Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 62, no. 1, 2–31.
2018 “Nuclear (Geo)Political Ecologies: A Hybrid Geography of Chinese Investment in Namibia’s Uranium Sector.” Special Issue on “Political Ecology of a Rising China.” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 46, no. 3, 53–83.