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Michael John Watts

Non-resident Long-term Fellow for Programmes on the Political Economy of Development and
Development Policy, SCAS.
Senior Global Horizons Fellow, SCAS.
Class of ‘63 Professor of Geography, University of California, Berkeley


Michael J. Watts is Class of ‘63 and Chancellor’s Professor of Geography and Co-Director of
Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught for forty years.
He served as the Director of the Institute of International Studies at Berkeley from 1994 to 2004
and was Director of Social Science MATRIX at Berkeley in 2019–20.

Watts was educated at University College London and the University of Michigan, and has held
visiting appointments at the Smithsonian Institution, and in Bergen, Bologna, and London. He
served on the Board of Advisors of a number of non-profits, including Food First and the Pacific
Institute, and served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Social Science Research Council.
Watts is a member of the British Academy, was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2003 and was awarded
the Victoria Medal by the Royal Geographical Society in 2004, and the Berlin Prize by the American
Academy in Berlin in 2016. At Berkeley, he has chaired over 100 PhD dissertation committees and
served as second or third readers on as many again.

Watts’ writing has addressed a number of development issues especially food security, political
violence and the agrarian question in Africa, South Asia and Vietnam, and the political economy
of development, more generally. Watts has worked for UNDP, OECD and other development
organizations. He has published over fifteen books and three hundred articles and has worked
extensively with the renowned photographer Ed Kashi. Recently, Watts has written extensively on
the oil industry, extractive economies and international commodity trading firms.

At SCAS, Watts will continue working on a book project on neoliberalism and the Global South.


This information is accurate as of the academic year 2021-22.