University of Colorado at Boulder

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Elizabeth Dunn

Post Socialism; Industrial Management; Development; Cultural Anthropology; Eastern Europe

Associate Professor of Geography 

Human Geography
303-492-5388 Gugg 103b  
PhD. Johns Hopkins University, 1998

Research Interests

Her early work focused on economic transformation and regulation in Poland. Her book, Privatizing Poland: Baby Food, Big Business and the Remaking of Labor won the 2005 Orbis Book Prize. In 2005, she was the first non-economist to win the Ed. A Hewett Prize from the National Council on East European and Eurasian Research. Her current work focuses on the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. She has worked with the Centers for Disease Control to investigate why Georgia has the world's highest rate of botulism, and has published work on botulism in American Ethnologist. Along with anthropologist Erin Koch, she is currently focusing on the links between humanitarian aid, political organizing among refugees, and state formation in Georgia after the war.

Selected Publications

Dunn, E.C. (2008). Postsocialist Spores: Disease, Bodies and the State in the Republic of Georgia. American Ethnologist 35 (2): 243:258.

Dunn, E. (2007). Escherichia coli,Corporate Discipline, and the Failure of Audit. Space and Polity 11:35-53.

Dunn, E. (2004). Privatizing Poland: Baby Food, Big Business, and the Remaking of Labor. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.(Polish edition, 2008, Warsaw: Krytyka Polityczna).

Dunn, E. (2003). Trojan Pig: Paradoxes of Food Safety Regulation.""Environment and Planning. A35: 1493-151.

Publications updated February 2009

Recent Courses Include

Summer 2014  GEOG 4742-001 (3) Environments and Peoples: Food

Spring 2014  GEOG 4742 (3) Environments and Peoples - Food

Fall 2013  GEOG 5100-003 (3) Special Topic: Intro to Social Theory

Graduate Students

IDPs; refugees; Colombia
Forced migration in the South Caucasus
post-socialism; food; gender; Armenia; environmentalism
international and economic development
M.A. Alumni
Scale, Funding and the Law in Ukraine: Delocalizing Organizations and Impoverishing Movements
Ph.D. Alumni
The fractured politics of food security: maize, power, and hunger on a Zambian frontier
Ph.D. Alumni
The Bureaucracy of Nature: How Integrated Resource Management Excludes the Poor

What's New

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn's work focuses on health, agriculture, and post-socialist transformations in the former Soviet bloc. She's interested in how new bureaucratic systems work with---or, often, conflict with--the legacies of state socialism, and the often complicated relationships between supranational agencies and state formation. She's currently working on two projects that focus on development aid in the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia, where a war in 2008 has brought $4.5 billion in humanitarian and development assistance to a small, impoverished country. Her biggest project focuses on internally displaced persons (IDPs), ethnic Georgians who were displaced from the province of South Ossetia and who are now living in former schools and hospitals or who have been relocated to newly built (and quickly decrepit) settlements. She is interested in how humanitarian aid to the IDPs conceives of them as disintegrated bundles of need, and how the IDPs themselves attempt to reassert themselves as social beings and political subjects.

Her second project looks at impoverished farmers in Racha-Lechumi, Georgia's poorest province, and chronicles the attempts that development agencies are making to recreate them as entrepreneurs and food producers for urban markets. She's interested in how people in Racha react as an aid agency takes over functions that used to be carried out by Communist collective farms. She's also helping farmers in Racha get a new dairy processing factory (which is a funny and, it has to be said, cheesy experience).

Her previous project focused on industrial workers in Poland, and looked at the ways that the process of post-socialist privatization and the introduction of new management processes helped constitute new social classes. She is also completing a book on food safety and the making of the modern state.

Elizabeth is interested in bureaucracies, development, health, food, and the state. She really likes khinkali. Khachapuri, not so much.

"What's New" updated February 2009

More Info

Elizabeth is the proud mom of five-year-old Aaron, who is currently learning Georgian at light speed. She has also been a foster parent for Boulder County and had many wonderful kids living in her house. In her spare time (what spare time?), she likes to cook dishes from far away places, watch Top Chef, and play online Scrabble with other insomniacs. A Colorado native, she is hopelessly lost if the mountains are not to the west.