Melissa Beresford

Assistant ProfessorMelissa Beresford





Current Research Activities

My research investigates how humans build alternative economies in response to economic inequalities, resource insecurities, and other injustices. I largely focus my work on how people cope with inadequate financial capital and inadequate fresh water. My work is rooted in my discipline of anthropology, but I also aim to reach interdisciplinary audiences to demonstrate the importance of anthropological perspectives for tackling the pressing challenges that humans face in the 21st century. Currently, my research is focused on two major projects: (i) The Diverse Uses of Entrepreneurship Project, and (ii) The Diverse Water Economies Project. Additionally, a third stream of my research focuses on investigating and innovating research methods used in anthropological and interdisciplinary social science research.

Research Connections to Current Events

Two of the greatest challenges that humans face in the 21st century are increasing socio-economic inequality and the inequitable distribution of vital natural resources, especially water. My research investigates how humans understand and respond to these challenges, specifically within the context of market capitalism. I draw on anthropological theories of culture, economy, and ecology to ethnographically investigate (a) cultural understandings of economy and environment; (b) how people imagine and enact alternative (non-capitalist and hybrid) economies; and (c) how alternative economic practices allow people to acquire and manage scarce resources.

Personal Connections to Research

My research agenda is motivated by my desire to address the socio-economic inequities that have been baked int our society for centuries. I was raised by parents who were activists in their communities and instilled in my a drive to help address harms and build more just and equitable social systems.

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Economic and ecological anthropology; socio-economic inequality; water/resource insecurity; environmental justice; community-based economies; ethnographic research methods; qualitative data analysis