I am a human–environment geographer with a broad range of interests.  This website is designed mainly for undergraduate and graduate students to learn briefly about my research and teaching.  In my research, I study how humans interact with plants, both intentionally and unintentionally.  In my teaching, I like to encourage students to pursue their interests, while also learning to understand the interests of others.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

Chris Duvall

Associate Professor

Department of Geography

University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM 87131

Office: Bandelier West, Rm. 220

Fax: 1-505-277-3614

E-mail: duvall at unm dot edu

I am a biogeographer who studies humans.  Topically, most of my work has centered on Africa and Africans, and I am currently focused on historic contexts.  Theoretically, my work contributes to Atlantic Studies, human–plant studies, and critical physical geography.  I organize my research around two main themes.

Theme #1: Human–plant interactions

How do humans interact with plants over space and time?  Though humans interact with all components of our ecosystems, humans and plants have an especially complex relationship. I seek to understand ecological, social, and cultural interactions between humans and plants.

Ongoing research:

I have studied human–plant relationships for seven different plant species.  Currently, I am focusing on Cannabis and other plants that enslaved people in western Central Africa used medicinally.  I am particularly interested in the origins and global expansion of African knowledge about Cannabis, and the ways in which racial meanings have been assigned to the plant.

Some related publications:

  1. Sluyter & Duvall (2015) The Geographical Review 106(2).

  2. Duvall (2015) Cannabis. Reaktion Books: London.

  3. Duvall (2011) Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(3).

  4. Duvall (2009) Journal of Tropical Geography 30(2).

  5. Duvall (2008) Landscape Ecology 23(6).

  6. Duvall (2007) Journal of Biogeography 34(11).

Related teaching:

I include human–plant interactions in much of my teaching, especially in Geog 464/564: Food and Natural Resources, but also Geog 515: Cultural and Political Ecology, and Geog 101: Intro to Physical Geography.

Theme #2: Knowing and representing environments

How do humans study and depict environments?  Scientific knowledge is produced and expressed in certain ways, which are not always the most effective for actually learning about the world around us.  I seek to understand the origins and assumptions of various threads of environmental scientific knowledge.

Ongoing research:

I enjoy the ‘archaeology of knowledge’ approach to understanding ideas. I am currently working to analyze how and why people think about “savannas”, while my research on Cannabis considers how expert knowledge is developed and communicated.

Some related publications:

  1. Duvall (2016) Space & Polity 20(1).

  2. Lave et al. (2014) Canadian Geographer 58(1).

  3. Gruley & Duvall (2012) GeoJournal.

  4. Duvall (2011) In Knowing Nature (Goldman et al., eds.). University of Chicago Press.

  5. Duvall (2006) Journal of Historical Geography 32(2).

  6. Duvall (2003) The Geographical Journal 169(4).

Related teaching:

I teach on this theme mainly in Geog 515: Cultural and Political Ecology and Geog 471: Geography Senior Capstone, but also ask students to think critically of scientific knowledge in Geog 464/564: Food and Natural Resources, and Geog 101: Intro to Physical Geography.

Images © Chris Duvall, 2017

(except the book cover and the ‘Stop Smoking’ image.)


If you have questions about class, please ask me during or after class, stop by my office, or send me an e-mail.  If you need special accommodation in any of my classes due to disability, please let me know.  Please also visit UNM’s Accessibility Resource Center for information, eligibility requirements, and assistance.

I encourage students to take a learning styles self-assessment, to understand how you learn best.  This knowledge could help you improve your study habits.  A good self-assessment on the web is the Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire from Richard Felder and others at North Carolina State University.  Also, the Multiple Intelligences website has links to many other learning self-assessments on the Internet. 

Success in college takes a range of professional skills that may be new for some students.  There are many resources available to help you build skills in time management, communication, planning, and other professional skills.  Many of these resources can also help if you’re struggling at work or in your personal life.  Here at UNM, some key resources include:

  1. Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS)

  2. Graduate Resource Center (GRC)

  3. Accessibility Resource Center

  4. Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) 

  5. Women’s Resource Center

  6. Veterans Resource Center

  7. Agora Crisis Center

Other useful resources on the web include:

  1. UNM-Valencia’s Teaching and Learning Center

  2. Dartmouth University’s Academic Skills Center

  3. Utah State University’s Online Learning Center

  4. Penn State University’s Learning Centers

  5. Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Hemp fieldwork, France, c.1900

I enjoy working with students in classroom settings and on independent research projects.  In my courses, I practice collaborative learning and teaching, which means that all people in a classroom work together to learn.  For independent studies, I encourage students to explore their interests.


Left: Hemp work was hard, and in Europe often women’s work.  These women are retting hemp (soaking it in water), to loosen the fiber from the stem. Serbia, c. 1903

Below: Smoking hashish: Turkmenistan, c. 1872

Right: As a drug, Cannabis has many common names that have been widely written in graffiti.  One name used in Portugal, Angola, and Brazil is liamba, which I found written on a wall in Porto, Portugal in 2014.

Right: Marijuana advocacy ad in a weekly newspaper: US, 1972.  According to recent research, the US tobacco industry has long considered marijuana a competing product, and seems poised to enter marijuana markets if these should become federally legal. 

My c.v. is here.  My professional networking sites are:  ResearchGate, Google Scholar, and Academia.edu.

My book Cannabis was published in February 2015.  The book is a world historical geography of the genus, and part of the Botanical Series from Reaktion Books.  Information about the book is available online for U.S. readers and for U.K. and international readers.  Reviews include: Hempirical Evidence, Publishers Weekly, and AAG Review of Books.

My other publications on cannabis are:

  1. “Cannabis and tobacco in precolonial and colonial Africa”, in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017)

  2. “Science, society, and knowledge of the Columbian Exchange”, in Environmental History in the Making (Springer, 2017)

  3. “Drug laws, bioprospecting, and the agricultural heritage of Cannabis in Africa”, in Space and Polity 20(1): 10-25 (Taylor & Francis, 2016)

  4. “Review essay: Cannabis: Ethnobotany and Evolution, by Clarke & Merlin”, in The Geographical Review 104(4): 523-526 (Wiley, 2014)

I also have a book in progress, on cannabis in Africa and the African Atlantic Diaspora, that I expect will be out in 2018.