Bilal Butt, is an Associate Professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability and a faculty affiliate of the African Studies Center at the University of Michigan. His research is concerned with understanding the drivers and effects of violent conflicts over natural resources. He places a large emphasis on empirical fieldwork to understand the lived geographies of the interactions between people and the environment in ecologically heterogenous regions. He combines various geospatial technologies (such as putting GPS units on cows) with historical and ecological dynamics of dryland environments to understand how differential power relations between agencies, states and other actors come together to influence the etiology of resource conflicts . He is also interested in the ways that scientific and technical appraisals of indigenous peoples and environments have misread the landscape, leading to orientalist approaches to development programs. He has also had a long history of engagement on questions of environmental conflicts, particular around wildlife poaching, land grabs and green energy. Dr. Butt received the National Science Foundations Career Award and is a recipient of the Superior Teaching Award from the University of Michigan. He has published in diverse journals such as the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Remote Sensing of Environment, Journal of Applied Ecology and Humanity. He teaches courses on Conservation and Development, Political Ecology, Environmental Security and Conflict, Environmental Governance, and Preparing for International Fieldwork.
* Indicates Student Co-Author
2020: H. D. Hedman*, L. Zhang, G. Trueba, D. L. Vinueza Rivera, R. A. Zurita, Herrera, J. Villacis Barrazueta, G. I. Gavilanes Rodriguez, B. Butt, J. Foufopoulos, V. J. Berrocal, and J. N. Eisenberg “Spatial exposure of agricultural antimicrobial resistance in relation to free-range domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) movement patterns among agricultural communities in Ecuador American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.20-0076
2020: Butt, B. “Digital Data and Knowledge Making in the Field” The Geographical Review 110(1-2): 183-194 doi: 10.1111/gere.12363
2019: Adunbi, A. and Butt, B. (co-editors of a special issue) “Afro-Chinese engagements: infrastructure, land, labour and finance” Africa 89(4): 633-637 doi.org/10.1017/S0001972019000822
2018 Butt, B. "Environmental Indicators and Governance. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 32: 84-89 doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.05.006
2018: Duvall, C., Butt, B. and A. Neely. “The trouble with savanna and other environmental categories, especially in Africa”. In, Handbook of Critical Physical Geography,R. Lave, C. Biermann, and S. Lane, Eds. Palgrave Publishing. doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71461-5_6
2017: *Steger, C.S. Butt, B, and Hooten, M. “Safari Science: Assessing the reliability of citizen science data for wildlife surveys” Journal of Applied Ecology 54(6): 2053-2062 doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12921 (Open Access)
2016: Butt, B. “Ecology, Mobility and Labor: Dynamic Pastoral Herd Management in an Uncertain World”. Rev. Sci. Tech. Off. Int. Epiz (Scientific and Technical Review of the Office International des Epizooties) 35(2): 461-471 doi: 10.20506/rst.35.2.2530 (Invited Submission to the World Organization for Animal Health on ‘The Future of Pastoralism’)
2016: Butt, B. “Neoliberalism, Conservation and Dispossession in Kenya’s Arid Lands”. Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 7(1): 91-110 doi: 10.1353/hum.2016.0009
2016: Turner, M., Butt, B., Singh, A.*, Brottem, L.*, Ayantunde, A., and B. Gerard. “Variation in vegetation cover and livestock mobility needs in Sahelian West Africa” Journal of Land Use Science 11(1): 76-95 doi:10.1080/1747423X.2014.965280
2016: O’Connor, D.* Butt, B. and Foufopoulos, J. “Mapping the ecological footprint of large livestock overlapping with wildlife in Kenyan pastoralist landscapes” African Journal of Ecology 54(1): 114-117 doi: 10.1111/aje.12241
2015: Steger, C.* and Butt, B. “Integrating Citizen Science into East African Protected Areas: Problems and Prospects” African Journal of Ecology 53(4): 592-594 doi: 10.1111/aje.12199
2015: O’Connor, D.* Butt, B. and J. Foufopoulos. “Foraging ecologies of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) and camels (Camelus dromedarius Linnaeus) in northern Kenya: Effects of habitat structure and possibilities for competition?” African Journal of Ecology 53(2): 183-193 doi: 10.1111/aje.12204
2015: Butt, B. “Herding by Mobile Phone: Technology, Social Networks and the “Transformation" of Pastoral Herding in East Africa” Human Ecology 43(1): 1-14 doi: 10.1007/s10745-014-9710-4
2014: Butt, B. “The Political Ecology of Livestock Incursions into Protected Areas: Technology, Place and Socio-Ecological Dynamics in the Mara Region of Kenya” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 84(4): 614-637 doi:10.1017/S0001972014000515
2014: DuPuy, W.*, Benka, V.*, Massey, A.*, Deem, S., Kinnaird, M., O’Brien, T., Wanyoike, S., Njoka, J., Butt, B., Foufopoulos, J., Eisenberg, J., and R. Hardin “Q Fever Risk across a Dynamic Heterogeneous Landscape in Central Kenya” EcoHealth 11(3):429-433 doi:10.1007/s10393-014-0924-0
2014: Brottem, L.*, Turner, M. Butt, B. and A. Singh*. “Biophysical Variability and Pastoral Rights to Resources: West African Transhumance Revisited” Human Ecology 42(3): 351-365 doi:10.1007/s10745-014-9640-1
2012: Butt, B. and Turner, M. D. “Clarifying competition: The case of wildlife and pastoral livestock in East Africa.” Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2(9): 1-15 doi:10.1186/2041-7136-2-9 Open Access & Most Accessed Article in the Journal’s History
2012: Butt, B. “Commoditizing the Safari and Making Space for Conflict: Place, Identity and Parks in East Africa.” Political Geography 31(2): 104-113 doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2011.11.002
2011: Butt, B. Turner, M. Singh, A.* & L. Brottem*. “Use of MODIS NDVI to Evaluate Changing Latitudinal Gradients of Rangeland Phenology in Sudano-Sahelian West Africa.” Remote Sensing of Environment 115(12): 3367-3376 doi:10.1016/j.rse.2011.08.001
2011: Butt, B. “Coping with uncertainty and variability: The influence of protected areas on pastoral herding strategies.” Human Ecology 39(3): 289-307 doi:10.1007/s10745-011-9399-6
2010: Butt, B. “Pastoral resource access and utilization: quantifying the spatial and temporal relationships between livestock mobility, density and biomass availability in southern Kenya.” Land Degradation and Development 21(6): 520-539 doi:10.1002/ldr.989
2010: Butt, B. “Seasonal space-time dynamics of cattle behavior and mobility among Maasai pastoralists in semi-arid Kenya.” Journal of Arid Environments 74(3): 403-413 doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.09.025
2009: Butt, B. Shortridge, A. and A. WinklerPrins. “Pastoral herd management, drought coping strategies, and cattle mobility in Southern Kenya.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99(2): 309-334 doi: 10.1080/00045600802685895
2018: African Heritage and Humanities Initiative: A People's History of the Maasai Mara
2016: NSF CAREER Grant: Situated Resilience and the New Geographies of Wildlife-Livestock Relationships.
2013: African Studies Center Research Grant: Technologies of Conversation Governance and State Surveillance in Kenya's Protected Areas.
2012: NSF Starter Grant, Division of Biological Infrastructure: Understanding savanna vegetation dynamics in East Africa under different off-take methods and precipitation regimes.
2011: SNRE SEED Grant: Science, Practice, and Public Participatation: Natural Resource Monitoring in African Protected Areas.
Recipient of Superior Faculty Teaching Award
Recipient of NSF Research CAREER Award
PhD, Michigan State University (Geography)
MA, Michigan State University (Geography)
Faculty Affiliate, Science Technology and Public Policy Program (2015 – Present)
Faculty Affiliate, African Studies Center (2011 – Present)