Michael Ekers, Associate Professor


Home Campus:
U of T Scarborough

University of Oxford, UK (2010)

Other Degrees:
MES, York University (2005)
HENS, Lakehead University (2003)

Contact Information:

Phone:  416-208-4764
Office:   Management Wing (MW) 366
Location: Email: michael.ekers@utoronto.ca

Research Interests:

  • My research mobilizes social and political theory and political economic approaches to understand:
  • (1) the production of different environmental landscapes, and
  • (2), the’ identities’ of the people that produce environmental spaces and their social positioning in the production process.

1)  What are the cultural, political and economic relations that produce resource landscapes?  I am interested in how specific subjects, defined by relations of gender, sexuality, class and ‘race’, are made in conjunction with the production of different social and environmental landscapes.  Here, I engage with debates on the production of nature and social difference to argue for a wider understanding of how specific social groups are enrolled in the labour of making natures.  I examine these questions through two concrete research projects including: (1) my doctoral research that examined the cultures of labour in the British Columbia tree planting industry, (2) my current research that develops the concept of ‘socio-ecological fixes’ through a conceptual engagement with David Harvey’s work and an investigation of the intersection of urban unemployment and forestry relief projects in British Columbia during the 1930s depression.

2)  What might an engagement with Antonio Gramsci’s work mean for contemporary debates in geography and environmental studies?  Despite his formidable presence in many disciplines, Gramsci has been conspicuously absent in debates in geography and environmental studies.  I am interested in whether Gramsci’s work can enhance our understandings of environmental politics and questions of labour and unemployment.  In addition, I have co-edited a collection titled Gramsci; Space, Nature and Politics, with Gillian Hart, Stefan Kipfer and Alex Loftus, which addresses Gramsci’s relevance to debates on geography, political ecology, ‘the political’ and difference.

Teaching This Academic Year:

GGRA02  – Geographies of Global Processes
GGRB21  – Environments and Environmentalisms
GGRC24  – Socio-Natures and the Cultural Politics of ‘the Environment’
GGRC26  – Geographies of Environmental Governance

Current Students:

I am interested in how debates in political ecology, agrarian studies and social theory can help in understanding the making and contestation of different environmental landscapes. My current research focuses on the financialization of private forest land in British Columbia and ongoing Indigenous and settler opposition. I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD students interested in any of the areas noted above and that are keen to blend substantive qualitative and ethnographic research with different theoretical debates. I am on leave in 2020-2021 but would consider applicants if the fit is very good.

Selected Publications:


  • Ekers, M., Loftus, A., Hart, G., Kipfer, S. (Eds.), (2013) Gramsci: Space, Nature and Politics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, (Wiley-Blackwell Antipode Book Series)

Refereed Articles

  • Ekers, M. and Prudham S. 2017. The Metabolism of Spatial Fixes: Capital Switching, Spatial Fixes and the Production of Nature. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, (in press)
  • Ekers, M. and Prudham S. 2017. The Socio-Ecological Fix: Fixed Capital, Metabolism and Hegemony. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, (in press)
  • Ekers, M., Levkoe, C., Walker, S, and Dale, B. 2016. Will Work for Food: Agricultural Interns, Apprentices, Volunteers and the Agrarian Question. Agriculture and Human Values, 33(3), 705-720.
  • Ekers, M. 2015. A Fix in the Forests: Relief Labour and the Production of Reforestation Infrastructure in Depression-Era British Canada. Environment and Planning A, 47(12), 2537-2553.
  • Ekers, M. 2014.  Labouring Against the Grain of Progress: Women’s Reforestation Work in British Columbia, 1960-1975. Journal of Rural Studies, 34, 345-355
  • Ekers, M. 2013.  “Pounding Dirt All Day: Sexuality, Gender and Labour in the British Columbia Reforestation Industry. Gender, Place and Culture, 20(7), 876-895.
  • Ekers, M. and Loftus, A. 2012. A Gramscian Turn in the Production of Nature? Progress in Human Geography (available on Online First).
  • Ekers, M. 2012.  “The Dirty Scruff”: Relief and the Production of the Unemployed in Depression-Era British Columbia. Antipode, 44(4), 119-1142.
  • Ekers, M., Hamel, P. Keil, R. 2012.  Governing Suburbia: Modalities and Mechanisms of Suburban Governance. Regional Studies, 46(3), 405-422.
  • Ekers, M. and Sweeney, B. 2010. (Dis)organizing Tree Planters: Labour and Environmental Politics in the British Columbia Silviculture Industry, BC Studies, 166(Summer), 95-123.
  • Ekers, M. and Farnan, M.  2010. Planting the Nation: Tree Planting Art and the Persistence of Nationalism. Space and Culture, 13(1), 95-120..
  • Ekers, M. 2009.  Constructing hegemony in the forestscape: men, masculinities and work in depression-era British Columbia. Geoforum, 40(3), 303-315.
  • Ekers, M. and Loftus A. 2008. The Power of Water: Developing Dialogues Between Gramsci and Foucault. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 26(4), 698-718.

Book Chapters

  • Ekers, M. (2017) The Social Construction of Nature. In Castree, N., Hulme, M. and Proctor, J. (Eds.), Companion to Environmental Studies. London & New York: Routledge (in press)
  • Ekers, M. 2015. On the Concreteness of Labour and Class in Political Ecology. In Perreault, T. Bridge, G. and McCarthy, J. Handbook of Political Ecology. New York: Routledge, 545-558
  • Ekers, M., Hamel, P. Keil, R. 2015. Governing Suburbia: Modes and Mechanisms of Suburban Governance. In Hamel, P. and Keil, R. (Eds.), Suburban Governance: A Global View. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 19-48
  • Ekers, M. 2013.  Gramsci and the Erotics of Labour: More Notes on the Sexual Question. In Ekers, M., Loftus, A. Kipfer, S. and Hart, G. (Eds.), Gramsci: Space, Nature, and Politics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, pp, 217-237. (Wiley-Blackwell Antipode Book Series)
  • Ekers, M. and Loftus, A. 2013.  Gramsci; Space, Nature and Politics. In Ekers, M., Loftus, A. Kipfer, S. and Hart, G. (Eds.), Gramsci: Space, Nature and Politics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 15-43. (Wiley-Blackwell Antipode Book Series).
  • Ekers, M. Hart, G, Kipfer, S. and Loftus, A. 2012.  “A Barbed Gift of the Backwoods”: Gramsci’s Sardinian Beginnings. In Ekers, M., Loftus, A. Kipfer, S. and Hart, G. (Eds.), Gramsci: Space, Nature and Politics. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 3-5.  (Wiley-Blackwell Antipode Book Series)