Mr Adrian Gonzalez

Supervised by

  • David Simon First/primary/lead supervisor

    1/10/1321/01/15

  • David Simon First/primary/lead supervisor

    1/10/132/11/17

Personal profile

I have an inter-disciplinary background with degrees in History  and War Studies. After my MA, I taught music part time in secondary school for a year which allowed me to pursue and publish my own research interests before starting the Graduate Teaching Programme (GTP) in history, gaining my QTS in the process. I commenced my PHD full time at Royal Holloway, University of London in September 2013.

Aside from my PHD, I enjoy cooking and a range of sports including cycling, swimming and tennis.

Links: Researchgate; academia.edu; The Conversation; Linkedin; Twitter;

Educational background:

BA (Hons) History, De Montfort University

MA War Studies, King's College London

PHD, Royal Holloway, University of London

Research interests

In a nutshell:

My PHD research utilised an innovative theoretical framework termed the political ecology of voice (PEV). PEV can be defined as the study of a specific temporal, economic, social, and geographical environment in which various stakeholders (e.g. citizens, community based organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)) utilise their voice over an environmental issue. For more information on this framework please see my Journal of Political Ecology 2015 publication listed below.

Utilising PEV, my central research question examined whether oil rich Latin American economy (ORLAE) stakeholders have been unable to hold resource extraction industries (REI) to account for environmental problems due to a range of political (power), economic (participation costs), social (position in society) and access (remoteness from key decision making mechanisms and/or access to ICT) issues. Fieldwork has centred on a case study of Peru and its oil-producing region of Loreto.  

In greater depth:

Since my Master’s course, I have developed a keen interest in exploring natural resources, particularly oil and its relationship and impact on society. Two of the paper’s I wrote for a module on the Master’s programme formed the basis of my first two publications (see 2010, 2011 articles) and a passionate interest and enthusiasm for academic research in this field.

My PHD research evolved considerably since this initial foray but has remained rooted within the school of political ecology and efforts to understand trans-national resource extraction industry (REI) oil pollution. My initial focus was on whether oil spills in emerging market and developing economies (EMaDEs) were due to trans-national REI "double standards" which necessitated the selection of an oil rich EMaDE as a case study. The Niger Delta, Nigeria, would have been an excellent case-study but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) strongly advised against all but essential travel there due to safety issues which was of paramount importance in the fieldwork period of my research. Despite this, I have retained an interest in the country’s oil politics which has led to several publications in journals (see 2016 articles and media outlets (The Conversation) on the problems in the Niger Delta and potential policy solutions that could be applied by the Federal government and other actors to help improve the situation. 

While a new fieldwork location needed to be chosen, the completion of a wide ranging literature review in the first year of my PHD helped to clarify initial ideas, concepts and possibilities. To this end, I developed an innovative new theoretical framework based on a political ecology framework and the consumer-industry voice theory of Albert Hirschman which encapsulates my efforts to study the accountability of REIs and how this may be helping to lead to increased levels of oil pollution and environmental degradation in some countries. This has been termed the political ecology of voice (PEV). PEV can be defined as the study of a specific temporal, economic, social, and geographical environment in which various stakeholders (e.g. citizens, community based organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)) utilise their voice over an environmental issue. PEV is able to draw together these temporally influenced factors, which, taken together, create a comprehensive theoretical framework which is capable of influencing stakeholders and holding economic actors to account for pollution. For more information on this framework please see my Journal of Political Ecology 2015 publication listed below.

In order to utilise PEV, I moved my research away from the Niger Delta, Nigeria and onto the South American continent whose numerous oil rich Latin American economies (ORLAEs) and documented petroleum incidents (e.g. Brazil’s Canberra Bay, Ecuador’s Oriente Basin and Peru’s Loreto region) offered interesting and viable fieldwork locations. In essence, my central research question examined whether ORLAE stakeholders have been unable to hold these companies to account for environmental problems due to a range of political (power), economic (cost of participation), social (position in society) and access (remoteness from key decision making mechanisms and/or access to ICT) issues. 

Peru's north-western Loreto region was selected for my fieldwork case study which occurred over a period of four and a half months in 2015. Loreto is home to a huge number of accessible oil Blocks within the heart of Peru's Amazon rainforest, many of which surround the remote jungle city of Iquitos. My initial idea was to focus on two exploratory Blocks (122 and 128) not only due to their relative proximity to Iquitos but also because less work has been documented on exploration based Blocks; academic work has predominantly focused on sites where there is a history of pollution (e.g. Ecuador's Chevron-Texaco sites) or where there is an ongoing issue (e.g. Niger Delta, Nigeria).

However, over the course of my time there, my investigations became concentrated around two Petroperu case-study communities within Loreto both of which had suffered varying levels of oil related pollution and became the primary focus for my PEV data collection (semi-structured interviews and participatory observation) alongside wider stakeholder interviews with the government, legal and academic professionals, journalists and former oil workers. Coding and analysis revealed that these communities suffer a number of access-based issues within PEV which limits their ability to voice over environmental pollution issues. The impact of exterior actors such as Petroperu and other CBO/NGO groups also has huge positive (e.g. strengthening) and negative (e.g. silencing) impacts on citizen voice. It therefore became clear that rural Loreton-based citizens struggle to hold oil companies such as Petroperu accountable for pollution as their voice can be marginalised, ignored or silenced. Similarly, environmental and human rights NGOs and indigenous federations (CBOs) can have difficult relationships with the state (which is intent on pursuing Loreton natural resource development) and oil companies (who counter the scrutiny that these organisations may provide on their operations). Overall, the PEV environment for Loreton stakeholders can be described as constrictive, intolerant and suppressive, particularly for citizens who must rely on the support of collective voice actors to hold REIs accountable for pollution.

The fieldwork and research was partially funded through a Royal Holloway Irene Marshall Scholarship (2014) and a Royal Holloway Paul Broome Development Research Prize (2014).

Links: Researchgateacademia.eduThe ConversationLinkedinTwitter

Research interests (continued)

Aside from my primary postgraduate research, I have also been a Contributing Analyst for Wikistrat since 2012. Wikistrat is an online global consultancy security firm that examine a range of current and future geopolitical issues through internal and client-based simulations. I have worked on several notable client-based simulations as a Lead Team analyst. These include

  • 'Alternative Futures from Trans-Sahel illicit trafficking': examining what will be trafficked, where and why in a ten year time-frame and impact on surrounding geopolitical areas
  • 'Mapping the Mediterranean 2025': examining the potential security issues for this region up to the year 2025.
  • 'Nigeria’s internal stability assessment': examining the potential security flashpoints for Nigeria in the short to medium term and plotting ways to counter these issues.
  • 'The Buhari Reformation': examining the policy avenues that the Nigerian President must enact and the feasibility of their success.

I am also a contributor to The Conversation a non-profit online media outlet where I have written articles based upon my research on the Niger Delta

ID: 17724998