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 Alice Essam

Alice Essam

Research student, School of Geography and Planning


After completing a Masters on globalisation, alongside work which exposed me to the variety of approaches institutions and individuals take to address climate change and promote ‘sustainability’, I decided to focus on relocalisation and practical sustainability. I embarked on a year-long permaculture course in Bristol intended to equip participants with the practical tools for grassroots solutions to contemporary global challenges. Through this course I became interested in herbalism and sought further learning opportunities and occasions to engage in the political and community potential of herbalism. My current research blends these experiences, as I explore how engagement with local ecology can promote overall better well-being in a socially and ecologically sustainable manner.


  • MSc Social Science Research Methods, Cardiff University (2018-2019)
    • Dissertation: Nurturing human-nature relationships through the practice of wild medicine
  • MSc Globalisation and Latin American Development, UCL Institute of Americas, Distinction (2014-2016)
    • Dissertation: Contested notions of sustainability in the Argentine soya industry
    • Awards:  UCL Excellence Bursary; Allende Best Dissertation 2016; Dean’s List 2016
  • BA International Development and Spanish, University of Leeds, First Class (2008-2012)


Research interests

  • Political ecology, relocalisation and regenerative socio-ecologies
  • Ontology of socio-nature, materialism(s)
  • Epistemologies and (indigenous) knowledge forming


(Re)Enchantment in the margins: Medicinal plant socio-ecologies in Brazil and the UK (working title)

This research explores how medicinal plants as a human-nature nexus might help bridge the ‘epistemic rift’ that seems to characterise social-ecological relations based on industrialism and capitalism. The research involves a parallel study of communities at two ends of the industrial spectrum which engage with and use medicinal plants as a medium for socio-ecological participation. The first in southern Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil – an area of intensive soya, maize and sugar cane production – impacted by agro-extraction and exportation, the second, in and around Bristol, a city with an industrial history characterised by consumption of importation, but where a herbalist community is growing. Through the research I will attend to questions over the ontology of ‘socio-nature’ and explore how these are present in two different products of time and place.

Funding source