Diane E. Austin

Professor, Anthropology

Director, Anthropology

Research Anthropologist (BARA)

About Diane E. Austin

Diane Austin is an applied environmental anthropologist whose work focuses on community dynamics amid large-scale industrial activity, alternative technologies to address environmental and social problems, environmental education, impact assessment, and community-based, collaborative research and outreach. She spent seven years as a public school teacher and has more than 20 years of experience managing large interdisciplinary and multiyear projects and developing and implementing participatory research and outreach approaches in diverse communities in the United States and Mexico. She has developed and maintained long-term, multisectoral and community-based partnerships with Native American communities, U.S. and Mexican border communities, and communities along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. She has served as an advisor to local, state, and tribal governments and consortia in the United States and Mexico; was a board member and chair of the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, the U.S. federal advisory dedicated to environmental infrastructure needs along the U.S.-Mexico border; and served the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine as a member of the Gulf Research Program Advisory Board.

Selected Publications

2018    Austin, Diane. Doubly Invisible: Women’s Labor in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Offshore Oil and Gas Industry. In Touraj Atabaki, Elisabetta Bini, and Kaveh Ehsani, eds. Working for Oil: Comparative Social Histories of Labor in the Global Oil Industry. Palgrave Macmillan.

2017    Austin, Diane, and Tom McGuire. The Great Crew Change? Structuring Work in the Oilfield. In Kirk Jalbert, David Casagrande, Anna Willow, eds. ExtrACTION: Impacts, Engagements, and Alternative Futures. Routledge.

2017    Austin, D., L. Penney, and T. McGuire. Ethnography on Trial. Anthropology Now. 9(1).

2014    Austin, D., B. Marks, K. McClain T. McGuire, B. McMahan, V. Phaneuf,P. Prakash, B. Rogers, C. Ware, and J. Whalen. Offshore Oil and the Deepwater Horizon: Social Effects on Gulf Coast Communities. Volume I: Methodology, Timeline, Context, and Communities. OCS Study. BOEM 2014-617. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region.

2014    Austin, D., S. Dosemagen, B. Marks, T. McGuire, P. Prakash, and B. Rogers.  Offshore Oil and the Deepwater Horizon: Social Effects on Gulf Coast Communities. Volume II: Key Economic Sectors, NGOs, and Ethnic Groups. OCS Study. BOEM 2014-618. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region.

2014    Austin, Diane. Guestworkers in the Fabrication and Shipbuilding Industry along the Gulf of Mexico: An Anomaly or a New Source of Labor? In David Griffith, eds. (Mis)managing Migration: Guestworkers’ Experiences with North American Labor Markets. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press.

2013    McGuire, Tom, and Diane Austin. Beyond the Horizon: Oil and Gas Along the Gulf of Mexico. In Sarah Strauss, Stephanie Rupp, and Thomas Love, eds. Cultures of Energy: Power, Practices, Technologies. Chicago: Left Coast Press.

2011    Austin, Diane and Brenda Drye. The Water that Can’t Be Stopped: Southern Paiute Perspectives on the Colorado River and the Operations of Glen Canyon Dam. Policy and Society 30(4):285-300.

2010    Austin, Diane. Confronting Environmental Challenges on the U.S.-Mexico Border: Examining a Long-Term Community-Based Participatory Research Program. Journal of Community Practice 18(2):361-395.

2007    Díaz, Estela-María, Rosalva Leprón, Diane Austin, and Irma Fragoso. Sustaining Collaboration across Borders, Languages, and Cultures. Practicing Anthropology 29(3):4-8.

2006    Austin, Diane E. Coastal Exploitation, Land Loss, and Hurricanes: A Recipe for Disaster. American Anthropologist 108(4): 671-691.

2004    Austin, Diane E. Partnerships, Not Projects! Improving the Environment Through Collaborative Research and Action. Human Organization 63(4):419-430.

2003    Austin, Diane E. “Community-Based Collaborative Team Ethnography: A Community-University-Agency Partnership.” Human Organization. 62(2):143-152.

Courses Taught

ANTH 347 Native Peoples of the Southwest

ANTH 407 Ethnographic Research Methods

ANTH 469 Ethnobotany

ANTH 537 Data Management and Analysis

ANTH 609 Mixed Methods in Social Sciences Research


Areas of Study

Geographic Area of Interest:
U.S.-Mexico border, especially Arizona-Sonora

Tribes and tribal communities in the U.S. southwest

Gulf of Mexico region, especially southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and southeastern Texas


Since 1991, I have worked with Southern Paiute tribes and tribal members, and the Southern Paiute Consortium, to (1) help develop appropriate opportunities through which Southern Paiutes can interact with one another and with others in environments that are of particular importance to them; (2) translate information about those environments into policy-relevant findings; (3) create educational programs and materials for Southern Paiutes and others; and (4) communicate with academic audiences. Information about the Southern Paiute Consortium can be found at http://www.kaibabpaiute-nsn.gov/SPC.html.

Since 1996, with my colleague, Tom McGuire, and numerous post-doctoral researchers, students, and community researchers, I have studied the social effects of the offshore petroleum industry in the Gulf of Mexico. When the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, 2010, I began a longitudinal study of the social effects of that disaster on the communities along the Gulf from southeast Texas through Alabama. Reports of this work can be found by checking the Author field and entering "Diane Austin" at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Environmental Studies Program Information System website http://www.data.boem.gov/homepg/data_center/other/espis/espismaster.asp?....

Since 2000, with students and community partners from academic, non-governmental, grassroots, and governmental organizations, I have helped form and manage a binational, multisectoral partnership (the Asociación de Reforestación en Ambos Nogales) and have (1) led the development and application of a systematic framework for approaching problems, moving from a series of short-term projects to long-term initiatives; (2) coordinated the ongoing collaboration among a diverse group of multisectoral partners; and (3) convened and served on policy workgroups and advisory boards at local, regional, national, and binational levels.

Since 2004, I have worked with community leaders and residents from Tucson to understand and address opportunities and challenges related to urban food production in gardens, farms, and plots. Recent projects include overseeing the production of a video for the Pima County Public Library's Seed Library which can be found at http://www.library.pima.gov/seed-library/ and a series of research reports and a video for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona; the latter can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW2_b_oGo4Q.

Research Interests

Human-environment interactions, learning and learning communities, decision making in complex environments, university-community relationships, environmental justice and Native American environmental policy.