UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program

Jeffrey Hoelle

Associate Professor
Sociocultural Anthropology

Contact Information:


Sociocultural Anthropology (ecological and economic anthropology, cattle raising and cowboy cultures; Latin America, Brazilian Amazon)


Research Interests:

I am a cultural anthropologist with research interests in economic and ecological anthropology and conservation and development in Latin America. My current research is focused on understanding the economic and cultural factors that contribute to the expansion of cattle raising in the western Amazon state of Acre, Brazil. I employ political ecology and practice theory frameworks to analyze how rubber tappers, colonists, and large-scale ranchers use and perceive cattle in relation to multi-scalar economic structures and conservation and development discourses and policies. I also examine the symbolic practices and preferences for a cattle-centered rural life that are expressed in cauboi (cowboy) and contri (country) popular culture in Acre. My interest in the economic, ecological, and cultural relationships between humans and cattle in Amazonia provides the foundation for an emerging research project in which I compare “cattle cultures” in the Americas, Africa, and India.


In Preparation:
Rainforest Cowboys: The Rise of Ranching and Cattle Culture in the Western Amazon. (under contract with University of Texas Press)

A Comparison of Cattle Economies and Cattle Cultures in East Africa and the Western Brazilian Amazon.

“Black Hats and Smooth Hands: Social Class, Environmentalism, and Work among the Ranchers of Acre, Brazil.” Anthropology of Work Review 33(2): 60-72.

“Regional Integration and Local Change: Road Paving, Community Connectivity, and Social–Ecological Resilience in a Tri-National Frontier, Southwestern Amazonia.” Regional Environmental Change. 12: 35-53. (with Stephen Perz, Liliana Cabrera, Lucas Araujo Carvalho, Jorge Castillo, Rosmery Chacacanta, Rosa E. Cossio, Yeni Franco Solano, Leonor Mercedes Perales, Israel Puerta, Daniel Rojas Cespedes, Ioav Rojas Camacho, Adao Costa Silva).

“Convergence on Cattle: Political Ecology, Social Group Perceptions, and Socioeconomic Relationships in Acre, Brazil.” Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 33(2): 95-106.


Fall 2013- ANTH 115: Language,Culture and Place

Spring 2014- ANTH 2: Introductory Cultural Anthropology

Winter 2014- ANTH 152: Environmental Anthropology