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Paul K. GellertPaul K. Gellert

Director of Global Studies
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

Paul Gellert’s research examines the role of natural resources in development within a world-systems perspective and dependency research in the traditions of Baran, Sweezy, Wallerstein, and Arrighi. Much of his research focuses on Indonesia, where he has conducted research for over two decades and is fluent in the language. He is engaged with debates on the meaning of ‘development’, questions of who benefits, and especially, processes of financialization, accumulation by dispossession, ecologically unequal exchange, and socionatural (dialectical society-nature) relations. Gellert takes a comparative-historical perspective based in a combination of fieldwork and interview methods – ‘structural field work’ as explained in an article (with Jon Shefner) in the Journal of World-Systems Research), as well as historical and secondary data analysis. He spent 2017-18 as a visitor at the KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) in Leiden, the Netherlands, conducting historical research towards a book manuscript he is writing on Indonesia’s persistent reliance on natural resources over the last century. His interest in questions of energy transition and climate change have led to collaborative research with Paul Ciccantell. They have produced several papers on the global political economy of coal and its long-term persistence of coal as source of energy and profit in the world-system.


  • 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. 2020 (fc). ). “The Political Economy of Environmental Degradation and Climate Disaster in Southeast Asia.” in The Political Economy of Southeast Asia: Politics and Uneven Development under Hyperglobalisation, (4th Edition), edited by Toby Carroll, Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gellert, Paul K. and Paul S. Ciccantell. 2020 (fc). “Coal in the Capitalist World-Economy: Against Teleological Energy ‘Transition’ Narratives.” Sociology of Development.

Gellert, Paul K. 2019. “Neoliberalism and Altered State Developmentalism in the 21st century extractive regime of Indonesia.” Globalizations 16(6): 894-918 DOI: 10.1080/14747731.2018.1560189.

Frey, R. Scott, Paul K. Gellert, and Harry F. Dahms, eds. 2019. Ecologically Unequal Exchange - Environmental Injustice in Comparative and Historical Perspective. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Gellert, Paul K. 2019. "Bunker’s Ecologically Unequal Exchange, Foster's Metabolic Rift and Moore's World-Ecology: Distinctions with or without a Difference?” Chapter 4 in Ecologically Unequal Exchange - Environmental Injustice in Comparative and Historical Perspective, edited by R. Scott Frey, Paul K. Gellert, and Harry F. Dahms.. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Ciccantell, Paul S. and Paul K. Gellert. 2018. “Historical Materialism and Socio-Economic Change in the Coal Industry.” Chapter 7 in Energy and Society Handbook, edited by Debra J. Davidson and Matthias Gross. Oxford University Press.

Ciccantell, Paul S. and Paul K. Gellert. 2018. “The Longue Durée and Raw Materialism of Coal: Against the So-called ‘Death of Coal’.” The World-System as Unit of Analysis: Past Contributions and Future Advances, edited by Patricio Korzeniewicz. Routledge Press. 

Frey, R. Scott, Paul K. Gellert, and Harry F. Dahms, eds.. 2017. Special Issue on Ecologically Unequal Exchange in Comparative Perspective. Journal of World-Systems Research 23(2): 226-398. 

Kaup, Brent Z. and Paul K. Gellert, 2017. “Cycles of Resource Nationalism: Hegemonic Struggle and the Incorporation of Bolivia and Indonesia.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 58(4): 275-303. doi: 10.1177/0020715217714298

Gellert, Paul K. 2015. “Palm Oil Expansion in Indonesia: Land Grabbing as Accumulation by Dispossession.” Current Perspectives in Social Theory 34: 65-99. Edited by J. Shefner. Bingley, UK: Emerald Press

Gellert, Paul K. and Andiko. 2015. “The quest for legal certainty and the reorganization of power: struggles over forest law, permits and rights.” The Journal of Asian Studies 74(3):639-666. doi: 10.1017/S0021911815000613 . 

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