Tad Mutersbaugh

  • Professor of Geography
  • Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  • Gender and Women's Studies
  • Geography
  • Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies
  • Social Theory
871 Patterson Office Tower
(859) 257-1316
Research Interests:

BA Antioch College, Yellow Springs

Graduate Training
MA Latin American Studies -- UC Berkeley PhD Geography -- UC Berkeley
Selected Publications: 



Mutersbaugh T, Martin L, ‘Protocols and the dialectics of disassembly: heifer care, value and alienation in a village community’ Environment and Planning A


Mutersbaugh T, Redes éticas: las organizaciones campesinas y la gobernanza de la calidad, In, eds Larroa R. M., Torres Salcido G., Sistemas Agroalimentarios Locales en México. Identidad territorial, construcción de capital social e instituciones. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México DF

Special Issue Intro

Mutersbaugh T, Lyon S, Ethical action: political and cultural economies of fairness Geoforum 41 (1): 27-32.




Lyon S., Aranda Bezaury J., Mutersbaugh T., Gender Equity in Fairtrade-Organic Coffee Producer Organizations: cases from Mesoamerica Geoforum 41 (1): 93-103.


Book chapter

Mutersbaugh T, Klooster D, ‘Environmental Certification: standardization for diversity’ In Agriculture, biodiversity and markets: Livelihoods and agroecology in comparative perspective, eds, Lockie, Stewart and David Carpenter Earthscan



book chapter

Mutersbaugh T, 'The certification service economy: Coffee, Certification and work in Mexico' In onfronting the Coffee Crisis: Sustaining Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America, edited by Christopher M. Bacon, V. Ernesto Méndez, Stephen R. Gliessman, David Goodman, and Jonathan A. Fox (MIT Press, 2008).



Mutersbaugh T, 2008, Oaxaca: Terror and non-violent protest in a video age ANTIPODE 40   (2): 205-210  



Tad Mutersbaugh. 2006. Certifying Biodiversity: Conservation networks, landscape connectivity, and certified agriculture in Southern Mexico. In, Karl Zimmerer ed., Globalization & New Geographies of Conservation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). pp 49-70.


2006: conference proceeding

Mutersbaugh, T, 2006, Agricultura orgánica, certificación medioambiental y gobernanza rural: notas sobre transparencia y opacidad, Local Agro-Food Systems Network’s Third International Congress “Food and Territories” (ALTER 2006, Baeza Spain)


Special Issue Intro

Mutersbaugh T, Klooster D, Renard M-C, Taylor P. 2005. Certifying rural spaces: Quality-certified products and rural governance JOURNAL OF RURAL STUDIES 21 (4): 381-388 OCT 2005



Mutersbaugh T. 2005. Just-in-space: Certified rural products, labor of quality, and regulatory spaces JOURNAL OF RURAL STUDIES 21 (4): 389-402 OCT 2005



Tovar LG, Martin L, Cruz MAG, Mutersbaugh T. 2005. Certified organic agriculture in Mexico: Market connections and certification practices in large and small producers JOURNAL OF RURAL STUDIES 21 (4): 461-474 OCT 2005



Mutersbaugh T. 2005. Fighting standards with standards: Harmonization, rents, and social accountability in certified agrofood networks ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING A 37 (11): 2033-2051 NOV 2005



Mutersbaugh T, ‘Demographic Change, Commons Management, Migration’, Common Property Resource Digest V June 2004



Mutersbaugh T,  'To Serve and To Certify: Organic Coffee, Certification Services and Village Cargo Service in Mexico' Environment and Planning D: Society and Space Special Issue: New Geographies of Work 22 (4): 533 - 552



peasant organic inspector loxicha oaxaca

Tad studies social, cultural, and political-economic geography in Oaxaca, Mexico. He is particularly interested in the socio-spatial economies of certification and ethical commodity production, and how these 'multi-quality networks' affect the everyday lives of peasant farmers. The photo below provides a glimpse of a few relevant issues:

peasant organic inspector loxicha oaxaca


Organic inspections create new opportunities for skilled labor, the villager here is using a cellphone platform to enter location, interview, survey, GPS, and photo data about this particular organic plot as a part of the inspections process. This can affect many aspects of life: gender relations are altered, often women prefer organic farming and may earn new rights and become organic inspectors; on the other hand, land may confront new commodification pressures as does communal service obligations.

Tad has also learned way more about coffee than he ever wanted to know. He has denuded tropical hillsides with a machete, been bit by untold numbers of insects, been sucked down mountain whirlpools, stabbed in the sternam by his own machete: and in short confounded his Oaxacan friends with his ability to survive -- and provide plenty of opportunities for merryment, at his expense.

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