Christian Abizaid, Associate Professor


Home Campus:
U of T St. George

McGill University

Other Degrees:
MA McGill University
Licenciatura (Honors Equivalent), Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico)

Cross Appointments:
With School of the Environment
Also affiliated with Latin American Studies (LAS)

Honours & Awards:
Board of Directors, Conference of Latin American Geographers (CLAG), 2014-2020

Contact Information:

Joint Appointment with School of the Environment
Department of Geography and Planning | Room 5055, Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George Street) |
Toronto ON, M5S 3G3 | Tel: 416.978.3373 | Fax: 416.946.3886 |

Personal Website:

Research Interests:

  • Environment and development
  • Indigenous and peasant livelihoods and resource use in Latin America
  • Vulnerability and resilience
  • Rural poverty
  • Forest and biodiversity conservation
  • Social networks
  • Neotropical forests; mainly Amazonia and Mexico

Teaching This Academic Year:

Fall 2020

GGR 341: Changing geography of Latin America

JGE 321: Multicultural perspectives on environment


Call For Students:

I am looking for students interested in joining my research program on rural livelihoods, poverty and environment in the Peruvian Amazon. This program seeks to understand how rural peoples make a living within the context of environmental and socioeconomic change, and to explain the spatial and social distribution of poverty. Possible themes include: river dynamics and livelihoods; greater access to affordable motors and cell phones and their implications for labor, marketing and finance; covid-19; social networks (e.g., religion, sports, kinship), livelihoods and resilience; small Amazonian towns and their role in the regional economy; floodplain agriculture and/or fisheries. Inquiries from motivated students with a suitable academic background, an interest in field-based work, Spanish proficiency and prior research/travel experience in Latin America are strongly encouraged, as are students with experience with field experiments or social networks. Students will be expected to seek additional external funding opportunities. Individuals with a broader interest on cultural/political ecology, rural livelihoods in Latin America should also feel free to contact me. Please include a brief research statement, cv, and transcripts. For more details see the Peruvian Amazon Rural Livelihoods (PARLAP) site at:

Current Students:

Kat Dervenis, TBD, MA (co-supervised with R. Isakson) (Starting September 2020)

Juan Carlos Jimenez, The impacts of socio-political instability and climate change on small-scale farmers in Nicaragua, PhD (Geography) (co-supervised with Ryan Isakson) (September 2019-to date)

Dena Coffman, Rural-urban linkages in the Peruvian Amazon, MA (Geography & Environmental Studies) (September 2018-to date)

Past students:

Sabrina Musto, Ecotourism in Havana: the importance of context, MScPl (2020)

Jennifer Langill, “Differential experiences of climate change: local knowledge and perspectives of severe flooding in the Peruvian Amazon”, MA (Geography & Environmental Studies) (co-supervised with R. Isakson) (2018)

Laura Bryson, “Spatial patterns of natural resource depletion among rain forest communities in the Peruvian Amazon: the role of protected areas and indigenous territories in the conservation of key species”, MSc (Geography & Environmental Studies) (2016)

Alyssa Scott, “Participation of Aboriginal peoples in management of uranium mining in Northern Saskatchewan” MA (Geography & Environmental Studies) (2016)

Marie-Line Sarrazin, “Land invasions and indigenous rights struggles: Challenges for Community-Based Resource Management in the Collective Land of Arimae in the Darién, Panama”, MA (Geography & Environmental Studies) (2015)

Jeanine McManus, “Amazonian fisheries: ecology, management and the problem of by-catch”, MES (2012)

Selected Publications:

Coomes, O.T., C. Abizaid and Y. Takasaki. 2020. “The Lower Ucayali river in prehistory: Cultural chronology, archeological evidence and a recently discovered Pre-Columbian site” The Geographical Review (in press).

Abizaid, C., Collado Panduro, L.A, and S. Gonzales Egusquiza 2020. Pobreza y Medios de Subsistencia en la Amazonía Peruana en Tiempos del COVID-19. Journal of Latín American Geography 19(3): 202-215.

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki, and C. Abizaid 2020. Impoverishment of local wild resources in western Amazonia: a large-scale community survey of local ecological knowledge. Environmental Research Letters. 15(7).

Langill, J. and C. Abizaid. 2020. What is a bad flood? Local perspectives of extreme floods in the Peruvian Amazon. Ambio 49:1423–1436. 

Abizaid, C., O.T. Coomes, Y. Takasaki and J. P. Arroyo-Mora. 2018. Rural social networks along Amazonian rivers: seeds, labor and soccer among rural communities on the Napo River, Peru, The Geographical Review 108(1): 92-119. DOI: 10.1111/gere.12244
• Selected as the 2018 Best Paper Award published by The Geographical Review.

Abizaid, C., O.T. Coomes, and M. Perrault-Archambault. 2016. Seed sharing in Amazonian indigenous rain forest communities: a social network analysis in three Achuar villages, Peru. Human Ecology 44(5): 577-594. DOI: 10.1007/s10745-016-9852-7

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki, C. Abizaid and J.P. Arroyo-Mora. 2016. Environmental and market determinants of economic orientation among rain forest communities: evidence from a large-scale survey in western Amazonia, Ecological Economics 129: 260-271.

Webster, K., J.P. Arroyo-Mora, O.T. Coomes, Y. Takasaki and C. Abizaid. 2016. A cost path and network analysis methodology to calculate distances along a complex river network in the Peruvian Amazon, Applied Geography 73:13-25.

Abizaid, C., O.T. Coomes, Y. Takasaki, and S. Brisson. 2015. Social network analysis and peasant agriculture: cooperative labor as gendered relational networks. The Professional Geographer 67(3): 447-463.

Takasaki, Y., O.T. Coomes, C. Abizaid, and S. Brisson. 2014. An efficient nonmarket institution under imperfect markets: labor sharing for tropical forest clearing. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96(3): 711-732. Also included in AJAE Virtual Issue: Development Economics.

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki, C. Abizaid and B. Barham. 2010. Floodplain fisheries as natural insurance for the rural poor in tropical forest environments: evidence from Amazonia. Fisheries Management and Ecology 17: 513-521.

Coomes, O.T., C. Abizaid and M. Lapointe. 2009. Human modification of a large meandering Amazonian river: genesis, ecological and economic consequences of the Masisea cutoff on the central Ucayali, Peru. Ambio 38(3): 130-34.

Abizaid, C. 2005. An anthropogenic meander cutoff along the Ucayali River, Peruvian Amazon. The Geographical Review 95(1): 122-134.

Abizaid, C. and O.T. Coomes. 2004. Land use and forest fallowing dynamics in seasonally dry tropical forest in the southern Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. Land Use Policy 21(1): 71-84.



Research Clusters:
Nature, Society and Environmental Change