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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2023/24 Dr. Maria Cristina Espinosa …

Dr. Maria Cristina Espinosa Mora-Bowen

University of Freiburg
Chair for Sustainability Governance
Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography

Member of the Young Academy for Sustainability Research
October 2021 - September 2024


Since May 2017, I work as an assistant professor at the Chair of Sustainability Governance of the University of Freiburg. Before, this appointment I worked at the Arnold-Bergstraesser Institute as the coordinator of the cluster “Politics of Natural Resources” and the regional expert for Latin America. I am primarily trained as a social scientist and hold a summa cum laude BA majoring in International Relations, with minors in Sociology and Latin American Studies from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador). However, as part of my studies in MSc Environmental Governance at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg, I acquired a sufficient natural science basis for engaging with technical aspects of pressing sustainability challenges as well. I completed my doctoral studies in Sustainability Governance also at the University of Freiburg. My cumulative dissertation with the title “Apart from nature or a part of nature? Discourse analyses of the politics of redefining the relationships between humans and nature”, was graded with summa cum laude and awarded the Erasmus Prize for the Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University College Freiburg in 2016. My publications appear in international peer-reviewed journals such as Extractive Industries and Society, Environmental Policy and Planning and Environmental Sociology. My current research focuses on epistemic practices that seek to challenge the social and political structures underpinned by science, technology and expertise that enhance the expansion of extractive industries and produce environmental injustices. Within the Young Academy for Sustainability Research (YAS), I am part of the team working on a graphic novel on Environmental Crises. Further projects include the workshop "The Politics of Legal Processes to Redress Environmental Injustices" with Dr. Rike Sinder and "Post-growth in texbooks: a comparative study of Ecuador, Germany and Jordan" in collaboration with Dr. Matthias Kranke and Hussam Hussein. My research interests include environmental and sustainability governance discourses, the political representation of non-human nature, and activism.


Selected Publications

  • Daniel Di Marzo & Cristina Espinosa (2023) Conservation Conflict: A Political Ecology Meta-Synthesis of East Africa, Society & Natural Resources, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2023.2253744
  • Espinosa, Cristina and Rangel, Grabriela (2022). “What roles do civil society organizations play in monitoring and reviewing the Sustainable Development Goals? An exploration of cases from Ecuador, Colombia, and Argentina”. Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society. DOI: 10.1080/25729861.2022.2143669
  • Espinosa, Cristina (2022). “Reducing power disparities in large-scale mining governance through counter-expertise: A synthesis of case studies from Ecuador”. The Extractive Industries and Society. 9. DOI: 10.1016/j.exis.2021.101000
  • Espinosa, Cristina (2021). “Conocimiento como causa y medio de resistencia a la minería de gran escala: casos heurísticos del Ecuador”. Íconos - Revista de Ciencias Sociales, 69. DOI: 10.17141/iconos.69.2021.4481
  • Espinosa, Cristina (2019) “Interpretive Affinities: The Constitutionalization of Rights of Nature, Pacha Mama, in Ecuador”, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 21:5, 608-622, DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2015.1116379
  • Espinosa, Cristina (2019). “Intelligibility and the intricacies of knowledge and power in transnational activism for the rights of nature”. Environmental Sociology, 5:3, 243-254, DOI: 10.1080/23251042.2018.1564456
  • Espinosa, Cristina (2017). “Bringing About the Global Movement for the Rights of Nature – Sites and Practices of Intelligibility”. Global Networks. DOI: 10.1111/glob.12158
  • Espinosa, Cristina (2014). “The Advocacy of the Previously Inconceivable: A Discourse Analysis of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth at Rio+20”. The Journal of Environment & Development, 23(4), 391-416. DOI: 10.1177/1070496514536049


  • Graphic Novel on the Environmental Crises (with Lea Breitsprecher, Javier Francisco, Matthias Kranke, Sarah May and Ida Wallin)
  • Workshop on "The Politics of Legal Processes to Redress Environmental Injustices" (with Rike Sinder)
  • Post-growth in texbooks: a comparative study of Ecuador, Germany and Jordan (with Hussam Hussein and Matthias Kranke)