James B. Greenberg

Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
Research Anthropologist Emeritus (BARA)

About James B. Greenberg

James B. Greenberg is a Senior Research Professor in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) and a Professor of Anthropology in the School of Anthropology. His current research uses a political ecology framework to examine the impact of global capital on the development and well-being of both human populations and the ecosystems that sustain them. Specifically, it looks both at the effects of larger processes on the historical development of capital, and at local variants of capital that development has spawned. In pursuit of these concerns, Greenberg takes an anthropological approach to credit as a social relationship and as technology of power, and asks how it is culturally embedded and used. He also uses a political ecology framework to examine how the incorporation of local populations into dynamics these wider systems. Greenberg has received grants from the Institution of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, Development Associates, Wenner-Gren, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright, USAID, U.S. Department of Justice, Oxfam, amongst others. In 1994, I founded the Political Ecology Society (PESO), which holds annual meetings with the Society for Applied Anthropology. I have served as PESO’s president, treasurer, and as a judge for its Eric Wolf Prize. 

Selected Publications


Greenberg, James B. and Thomas K Part. Hidden Interests in Credit and Finance: Power, ethics, and social capital across the last millennium  Lexington Books, September, 2017.

Park, Thomas K. and James B. Greenberg. The Roots of Western Finance: Power, ethics, and social capital in the ancient world. Lexington Books, May, 2017.

Weaver, Thomas, James B. Greenberg, Anne Browning, William Alexander, (editors). 2012. Neoliberalism and Commodity Production in Mexico. University of Colorado Press.

Biersack, Aletta, and James B. Greenberg. 2006. Reimagining Political Ecology, Duke University Press, with Aletta Biersack, 419 pp. Ebook 2009; Second printing 2012.

Greenberg, James B. 1989. Blood Ties: Life and Violence in Rural Mexico. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 288 pp. [1992 Second edition, Paper back edition]

Greenberg, James B. 1981. Santiago's Sword: Chatino Peasant Religion and Economics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 227 pp. [Spanish translation: 1988 Religion y Economia de los Chatinos. México: Instituto Nacional Indigenista.

Selected Articles and Chapters.

Greenberg, James B. and Luminita A Mandache. 2017. Neoliberal Policies and the Reshaping of the US-Mexico Border: The Case of Arizona in Anthropological Visions of the US-Mexico Transborder Region, Carlos Velez-Ibanez and Josiah McHeyman (eds). University of Arizona Press, p. 178-189.

Greenberg, James B. 2004. Medio Mileno de Credito entre los Mixes de Oaxaca. Cuadernos del Sur. México, Num 10, pp. 31-50.

Greenberg, J.B. 1998. The Tragedy of Commoditization: The political ecology of the Colorado River delta's destruction. Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 19: 133-14

Greenberg, James B. 1997. Caciques, Patronage, Factionalism, and Variations among Local Forms of Capitalism. In Citizens of the Pyramid: Essays on Mexican Political Culture,  Edited by Wil G. Pansters. Thela Publishers, Amsterdam. pp. 337-362. 

Greenberg, James B. 1995. Capital, Ritual, and the Boundaries of Closed Corporate Communities. In Articulating Hidden Histories., Edited by Rayna Rapp and Jane Schneider. University of California Press., pp. 67-81


Courses Taught

Anth 395 Anthropology of Terrorism

Anth 495-595 Political Ecology

Anth 507 Foundatons of Applied Anthropology

Anth 550 Anthropology of Credit

Anth 611 Ecological Anthropology 


Areas of Study

Southwest US
Mexico & Mesoamerica
Latin America & the Caribbean


Recent Projects

Operational Assessment of Oxfam’s ‘Savings for Change’ microcredit model in Mali. [with Mamadou Baro]

Snail Paces:  The Political and Cultural Ecology of the Dye-Producing Snail Plicopurpura Columellaris in Oaxaca, Mexico. [With Raphael Sagarin]

A Bi-national Assessment of the Disease Burden of Tuberculosis in Mexican Indigenous Migrant Communities in Sonora and Arizona. [With Thomas Weaver]


Research Interests

The political ecology; anthropology of credit, development, and local forms of capital.