Dr. Cindy Isenhour

Dr. Cindy Isenhour

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change
Ph.D. University of Kentucky, 2010
M.A. Colorado State University, 2001
B.A. Miami University, 1997

Isenhour_C_CV Mar 2023

Research Topics:

– Economic and environmental anthropology, political ecology.

– Commodity chains, consumption, embodied emissions, climate change.

– Environmental displacement, unequal exchange, environmental justice.

– Global markets, circular economies, reuse, discards, waste.
– Environmental movements, governance and policy.

– Climate mitigation and adaptation policy.

– Global cities and rural resilience.


Professional Interests:

As an ecological and economic anthropologist, I am particularly interested in the cultural construction and contemporary reproduction of linear production-consumption-disposal systems and their associated effects on the environment and climate.  Several current research projects examine the market logics and global relations of trade/negotiation that enable uneven accumulation and degradation.  Other research projects are focused on policies, practices and social movements intended to shift contemporary economies and consumer culture toward more sustainable forms.

Select Peer Reviewed Publications:

2023     Isenhour, Cindy, Brieanne Berry and Erin Victor.  Circular economy disclaimers: Rethinking property relations at the end of cheap nature. Frontiers in Sustainability. 3:1007802. DOI: 10.3389/frsus.2022.1007802.

2022     Ashton, Weslynne, Chiara Fratini, Cindy Isenhour and Robert Krueger. Introduction to a Special Double Issue: Justice, Equity and the Circular Economy.  Local Environment. DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2022.2118247

2022     Berry, Brieanne, Jamie Haverkamp, Cindy Isenhour, Melissa M. Bilec and Sara Sophia Lowden. Is Convergence Around the Circular Economy Necessary?: Exploring the Productivity of Divergence in US Circular Economy Discourse and Practice.  Circular Economy and Sustainability. DOI: 10.1007/s43615-022-00199-1

2022     Berry, Brieanne, Cindy Isenhour, Travis Blackmer, Jean MacRae, Linda Silka, Deborah Saber, Susanne Lee, and Jared Entwistle. After the Perfect Storm: Learning from Disruptions in Maine’s Materials Management System. Case Studies in the Environment.DOI: 10.1525/cse.2022.170696

2022     Isenhour, Cindy, Michael Haedicke, Brieanne Berry, Jean MacRae, Travis Blackmer and Skyler Horton. Toxicants, entanglement, and mitigation in New England’s emerging circular economy for food waste. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 12:341-353.DOI: 10.1007/s13412-021-00742-w

2021     Roscoe, Paul and Cindy Isenhour, eds. Consumption, Status and Sustainability: Ecological and Anthropological Perspectives.  London: Cambridge University Press ISBN- 9781108874441

2021     Brieanne Berry, Brianna Farber, Fernanda Cruz Rios, Michael A. Haedicke, Sujan Chakraborty, Sara Sophia Lowden, Melissa M. Bilec & Cindy Isenhour*.  Just by design: exploring justice as a multidimensional concept in US circular economy discourse. Local EnvironmentDOI: 10.1080/13549839.2021.1994535

2021     Turnhout, Ester, Pamela McElwee, Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline, Jennifer Claap, Cindy Isenhour, Eszter Kelemen, Tim Jackson, Daniel Miller, Graciela Rusch, Joachim Spangenberg, Anthony Waldron. Enabling Transformative Economic Change in the Post-2020 Biodiversity Agenda. Conservation Letters.DOI: 10.1111/conl.12805

2021     Anna McGinn & Cindy Isenhour. Negotiating the future of the Adaptation Fund: on the politics of defining and defending justice in the post-Paris Agreement period, Climate Policy. DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2021.1871875

2020     McElwee, Pamela, Ester Turnout, Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline, Jennifer Clapp, Cindy Isenhour, Tim Jackson, Eszter Kelemen, Daniel C. Miller, Graciela Rusch, Joachim Spangenberg, Anthony Waldron, Rupert Baumgartner, Brent Bleys, Michael Howard, Eric Mungatana, Hein Ngo, Irene Ring, Rui Santos. Ensuring a Post-Covid Economic Agenda Tackles Global Biodiversity Loss.  One Earth 3(4): 448-461.DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2020.09.011

2020     Mathai, Manu, Cindy Isenhour, Dimitris Stevis, Philip Vergragt, Mangus Bengtsson, Sylvia Lorek, Lars Mortensen, Luca Coscieme, David Scott, Ambreen Waheed, Eva Alfredsson. The Political Economy of (Un)Sustainable Consumption: A Multidisciplinary Synthesis for Research and Action. Resources, Conservation & Recycling. DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105265

2020     Isenhour, Cindy and Brieanne Berry.  “Still Good Life”: On the Value of Reuse and Distributive Labor in “Depleted” Rural Maine.  Economic Anthropology 7(2).DOI: 10.1002/sea2.12176

2020     O’Reilly, Jessica, Cindy Isenhour, Pamela McElwee and Ben Orlove. Climate Change: Expanding Anthropological Possibilities. Annual Review of Anthropology 49. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-anthro-010220-043113

2019     Isenhour, Cindy & Joshua Reno. Waste Materiality and Meaning: Ethnographic Engagements with Reuse, Repair and Care.  World Wide Waste: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2(1):1-12.DOI: 10.5334/wwwj.27

2019     Berry, Brieanne, Jennifer Bonnet and Cindy Isenhour. Rummaging Through the Attic of New England. World Wide Waste: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2(1):6.  DOI: 10.5334/wwwj.16

2019     Isenhour, Cindy, Lucie Middlemiss & Mari Mariskanen, eds. Power and Politics in Sustainable Consumption Research.  Routledge Press. ISBN- 9781138056206

2018     Alfredsson, Eva, Magnus Bengtsson, Halina Szejnwald Brown, Cindy Isenhour, Sylvia Lorek, Dimitris Stevis & Philip Vergragt. Why Achieving the Paris Agreement Requires Reduced Overall Consumption and Production. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy 14(1):1-5.DOI: 10.1080/15487733.2018.1458815

2017    Rachel Shwom, Cindy Isenhour, Aaron McCright, Rebecca Jordan, Jennifer Meta-Robinson.  Integrating the Social Sciences to Enhance Climate Literacy. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 15(7):377-384.

DOI: 10.1002/fee.1519

2017    Isenhour, Cindy, Andrew Crawley, Brieanne Berry and Jennifer Bonnet.  Exploring Maine’s Culture of Reuse and its Potential to Advance Environmental and Economic Policy Objectives. Maine Policy Review 26(1):36-46.


2016    Isenhour, Cindy, Jessica O’Reilly and Heather Yocum. Accounting for Climate Change: Measurement, Management, Morality and Myth.  Human Ecology 44(6):647-654.

DOI: 10.1007/s10745-016-9866-1

2016    Isenhour, Cindy. Unearthing Human Progress? Ecomodernism and Contrasting Definitions of Technological Progress in the Anthropocene. Economic Anthropology 3(2)315-328.

DOI: 10.1002/sea2.12063

2016    Isenhour, Cindy, Travis Wagner, Travis Blackmer, Linda Silka, John Peckenham, David Hart & Jean McRae. Moving Up the Waste Hierarchy in Maine: Learning from Best Practice State-Level Policy for Waste Reduction and Recovery.  Maine Policy Review 25(1)15-29.


2016    Love, Thomas and Cindy Isenhour.  Energy and Economy: Recognizing High-Energy Modernity as an Historical Period.  Economic Anthropology 3(1):1-18.

DOI: 10.1002/sea2.12040

2016    Isenhour, Cindy and Kuishuang Feng.  Decoupling and Displaced Emissions: On Swedish Consumers, Chinese Producers and Policy to Address the Climate Impact of Consumption.  Journal of Cleaner Production 134(a): 320-329. DOI:10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.12.037

2015    Isenhour, Cindy, Melissa Checker & Gary McDonogh. Sustainability in the Global City: Myth and Practice.  New York: Cambridge University Press.

ISBN-13: 9781107076280

2015    Isenhour, Cindy. Green Capitals Reconsidered: The Carbon Emissions Associated with Urban Consumption. In Sustainability in the Global City: Myth and Practice. Isenhour, Checker & McDonogh, eds.  Cambridge University Press.

ISBN-13: 9781107076280

2014    Isenhour, Cindy. Trading Fat for Forests: Palm Oil, Tropical Deforestation and Environmental Governance. Conservation & Society 12(3): 257-267.

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.145136

2014    Peterson, Nicole and Cindy Isenhour.  Moving Beyond the Legacy of the Rational Actor in Environmental Governance: An Introduction.  Conservation & Society 12(3): 229-232.

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.145128

2012    Isenhour, Cindy. The Devil in the Deal: Trade-Embedded Emissions and the Durban Platform. Ethics, Policy & Environment Special Issue on Durban Platform 15(3):303-308.

DOE: 10.1080/21550085.2012.730241

2012    Isenhour, Cindy. On the Politics of Climate Knowledge: Sir Giddens, Sweden and the Paradox of Climate (In)Justice. Local Environment 17(9).

DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2012.729570

2012    Isenhour, Cindy. Can Consumer Demand Deliver Sustainable Food?: Recent Research in Sustainable Consumption Policy & Practice. Environment & Society 2(1): 5-28.

DOI: 10.3167/ares.2011.020102

2011    McDonogh, Gary, Cindy Isenhour & Melissa Checker.  Introduction: Sustainability in the City.  City & Society 23(3)113-117.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-744X.2011.01057.x

2011    Isenhour, Cindy. How the Grass Became Greener in the City: Urban Imaginings and Practices of Sustainability. City & Society 23(2):118-138.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-744X.2011.01058.x

2010    Isenhour, Cindy. On Conflicted Swedish Consumers, the Effort to “Stop Shopping” & Neoliberal Environmental Governance.   Journal of Consumer Behavior Special Issue on Anti-Consumption and Sustainability 9(6): 454-469.

DOI: 10.1002/cb.336

2010    Isenhour, Cindy. Building Sustainable Societies: A Swedish Case Study on the Limits of Reflexive Modernization. American Ethnologist 37(3):511-525.



Phone: 207.581.1895

Fax: 207.581.1823

Email: cynthia.isenhour@maine.edu

Department of Anthropology

University of Maine

5773 S. Stevens Hall, Rm. 102A

Orono, Maine 04469-5773


Additional Links

Climate Change Institute

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