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Paul K. GellertPaul K. Gellert

Associate Professor
Ph.D. 1998 University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Tennessee
911 McClung Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996-0490

Phone: 865-974-7023
Curriculum Vitae

Interest Areas

Environmental sociology, development, comparative/historical sociology, political economy, Asian studies, global studies

My current research focuses on the political economy of natural resources and development in Indonesia and in the US. Working within a broad world-systems perspective and conducting comparative-historical research, I am interested in the role of natural resources in the development trajectories of extractive regions and peripheral zones of the world-economy.

In a new project, with support from UT's Jefferson Prize, first, I am conducting comparative research on the political economy of the coal sector in Indonesia and US Appalachia. With a number of colleagues, I am preparing a special issue of a journal on the environmental impacts and political economy of coal. In addition, an edited volume that will include case studies of coal from around the world is in preparation. Historical research and fieldwork in this area will continue through 2016.

Second, I am fascinated by economic nationalism and its changing expression in the neoliberal era. As opposed to nationalism of the anti-colonial and early post-colonial periods, I investigate how newer forms of nationalism are less broad-based and more discursive. Related questions of ideology and development fascinate me. In this area, I recently published an article in Journal of Contemporary Asia on the neoliberalization of development found in an education program in Indonesia that is similar to Teach for America. I also am working with a colleague on comparing economic nationalism in Indonesia and Bolivia.

Third, given heightened attention to questions of governance of natural resources, I am expanding into the area of law and society. In this area, I investigate the calls by international financial institutions and investors for stable, predictable investment climates and the limits of "rule of law" as a framework for improving governance of forest and other natural resources in development. In collaborative work with an activist lawyer in Indonesia, Andiko, I have one article forthcoming in The Journal of Asian Studies that criticizes rule of law and forest land authority amid jurisdiction disputes. We have plans for further collaborative research.

Fourth, I enter into theoretical debates about the dialectical relationship in socio-nature (rather than "between" nature and society). In this work, I am interested in bridging the nomothetic tendencies of sociology with the ideographic emphases of history and anthropology. In a paper under review, I examine the dynamics of accumulation by dispossession due to exponential growth in Indonesia's oil palm plantation sector.  Finally, an article (with Barbara Lynch) on mega-projects and displacements that addresses the socio-environmental impacts of such projects was recently re-published in a collection on megaprojects and planning.

I welcome the opportunity to work with students whose research interests intersect with in any of these areas



  • Sociological Theory
  • The Modern World System


  • Sociology and Social Justice
  • Pedagogy and Graduate Instruction
  • Comparative-Historical Sociology
  • Advanced Political Economy: Political Economy of Natural Resources
  • Sociology of Development
  • Political Sociology

Independent Study:

  • Political economy of media
  • Shareholder value and political economy of forestry
  • Economic concentration and dependency
  • Web-based research methods
  • Sociology of environment
  • Political sociology of corporate power
  • Gellert, Paul K. and Andiko. Forthcoming. "The quest for legal certainty and the reorganization of power: struggles over forest law, permits and rights." The Journal of Asian Studies
  • Gellert, Paul K. 2014. "Optimism and Education: The New Ideology of Development in Indonesia." Journal of Contemporary Asia. DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2014.978352
  • Gellert, Paul K. and Barbara D. Lynch 2014. (Reprint of 2003 article in ISSJ). "Megaprojects as Displacements."Part IV, Chapter 22, in Megaproject Planning And Management: Essential Readings, Volumes 1 and 2. Edited by Bent Flyvberg. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar.
  • Gellert, Paul K. 2012. "Extraction and the World-System." In Salvatore Babones and Christopher Chase-Dunn, Editors, The Handbook of World-Systems Analysis: Theory and Research. New York:
  • Gunnoe, Andrew and Paul K. Gellert. 2011. "Financialization, Shareholder Value, and the Transformation of Timberland Ownership in North America." Critical Sociology 37:3 (May): 265-284.

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