Hilary Cunningham (Scharper)

Photo of Prof. Hilary CunninghamHilary Cunningham, Ph.D. (Yale University, 1992)
Associate Professor, Anthropology, St. George Campus
LA 306 (Larkin Building, Trinity College)
Tel: (416) 978-0472

Research Keywords: nature and culture; anthropology of animals; urban nature; theories of nature, turn-to-the-nonhuman; critical border studies

Teaching, Research and “Engaged” Anthropology:

Hilary’s teaching and research reflects both her academic interests in critical border studies and social ecology, and her commitment to a public scholarship that is actively engaged with the many and varied challenges being generated by conditions of climate change.

Her academic work explores boundary-making as itself a multi-faceted encounter with “nature”—one which ultimately generates certain types of human-nature interactions while excluding or marginalizing other kinds. Because “borders” can encompass geophysical spaces, metaphysical categories, ecological zones, as well as human and non-human actors, Hilary focuses on “nature” itself as a kind of borderscape. To probe notions of “nature” and the “natural,” then—whether at an international security fence, in municipal policies regulating human-animal interactions or in philosophical discussions of what it means to be human—is to critically question acts of enclosure, crossings and restricted mobilities.

Hilary’s current research explores “gated ecologies,” i.e., those nature-borderscapes in which human and nonhuman marginalization (and destruction) unfold as a contingent, interconnected reality.


Social Ecologies and Structural Violence: Boundary-making as Nature-making in a Gated Globe. (With Stephen Scharper.) Forthcoming. In The Social Ecology of Border Landscapes. Michele Zebich-Knos and Anna Grichting, eds. Anthem.

Urban Futures as Ecological Futures. (With Stephen Scharper.) In The Blackwell Companion to Urban Anthropology, edited by Donald Nonini. Blackwell, 2014.

Bordering on the Environmental: Permeabilities, Ecology and Geopolitical Boundaries. In The Blackwell Companion to Border Studies, edited by Thomas M. Wilson and Hastings Donnan. Wiley Blackwell, 2012.

Ecology, Poverty and ‘Possible Urban Worlds’. In The Natural City: Re-envisioning the Built Environment, edited by Ingrid Stefanovic and Stephen B. Scharper. University of Toronto Press, 2012.

Gating Ecology in a Gated Globe: Environmental Aspects of ‘Securing our Borders’. In Borderlands: Ethnographic Approaches to Security, Power and Identity, edited by Hastings Donnan and Tom Wilson. University Press of America, 2010.

Mobilities and Enclosures. (With Josiah McC. Heyman). Special Edition on Borders, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, Vol. 11 (3): 289 -30. 2004.

Nations Rebound?: Crossing Borders in a Gated Globe. Special Edition on Borders, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, Vol. 11 (3): 329-350, 2004.

Fiction and Literature

Hilary also publishes literary fiction. Her work has been described as Ecogothic, a new and emerging literary genre that builds on elements of traditional Gothic fiction, but highlights human-nature relationships as well as the 21st-century “turn to the nonhuman.” Her first novel, “Perdita” was published by Simon & Schuster, Canada (2013); Sourcebooks, USA (2015); La Court Echelle French-language version) (2014). A second novel, “Eden’s Gates” is in progress, and a third novel, “Uncle Max’s Monkeys” is her current project. “Dream Dresses” Seraphim (2009) was her first collection of short stories.



Graduate Students

Photo of Kristina Alda
Kristina Alda
Columba Gonzalez Duarte
Columba Gonzalez Duarte
Photo of Emily Gilbert
Emily-Camille Gilbert
Photo of Rachel Levine
Rachel Levine