Photo credits:
Stewen Quigley

Michael John Watts

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

Michael J. Watts is Class of ‘63 and Chancellor’s Professor of Geography Emeritus and Co-Director
of  Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught for over 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 at universities in Bergen, Bologna, London and Berlin.
He served on the Board of Advisors of a number of non-profits, including Food First and the Pacific
Institute. He served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Social Science Research Council for a
decade. 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 Aca-
demy 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 famine and food security, political
violence and the agrarian question in Africa, South Asia and Vietnam, natural resources and especially the
energy and mineral sectors, and the political economy of development and governance, more generally.
Watts has worked for UNDP, OECD and other development organizations, including the Ford, Rockefeller
and MacArthur Foundations. 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 2023-24.