21 Sep 16

Michael Watts is Class of 1963 Professor of Geography and Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. For ten years he served as director of the Institute of International Studies, which promotes cross-disciplinary research and training on global issues. He established the Berkeley Working Group on Environmental Politics and directed the Africa Studies Center and Rotary Peace Fellows program. He has worked with development organizations and philanthropic institutions such as the UN Development Programme, Ford Foundation, OXFAM, and small NGOs, most recently, Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria. His first major study, Silent Violence: Food, Famine, and Peasantry in Northern Nigeria (California, 1983; reprinted 2013), dealt with the effects of colonialism on the susceptibility of Northern Nigerians to food shortage and famine. Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in The Niger Delta (powerHouse, 2008), featuring images by photojournalist Ed Kashi, traces the history of Nigeria’s oil interests and the resulting environmental degradation and conflicts in the region. Watts was the Siemens Fellow at the Academy in fall 2016.