Julie Klinger


Assistant Professor of International Relations


BA Sarah Lawrence College
PhD University of California, Berkeley

(617) 358-2582
152 Bay State Road, #G04D Boston, MA 02215

Julie Michelle Klinger, PhD, specializes in development, environment, and security politics in Latin America and China in comparative and global perspective.

Her recent book Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes (Cornell University Press in Fall 2017) received the 2017 Meridian Award from the American Association of Geographers for its “unusually important contribution to advancing the art and science of geography.”

In this book, Dr. Klinger examines the global geography of rare earth prospecting and mining, with a special emphasis on the development and geopolitics of resource frontiers in Brazil, China, and Outer Space. China currently accounts for 80% of global rare earth production, but that is changing. Much of the literature suggests that China’s virtual monopoly is the outcome of geological determinism, and the quest to mine these resources in the Brazilian Amazon and on the Moon is due to their absolute rarity. But contrary to much of the conventional wisdom underpinning contemporary global rare earth politics, these elements are neither rare, nor so dispersed that they can only be found on the Mongolian steppe, the Brazilian Amazon, or indeed, on ‘Earth’s offshore island.’

As a geographer, Dr. Klinger’s research emphasizes in-depth fieldwork to examine the processes through which resource frontiers are produced at local and global scales. She has worked extensively in rural and frontier regions in Brazil and China over the past decade to examine the gaps between (inter)national policy and local practice. She is committed to fostering international research collaboration.

Her research, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Irmgard Coninx Stiftung, and the Boston University East Asian Career Development Professorship, uses qualitative and quantitative methods to connect the dots between large-scale global processes and the landscapes and lives that sustain them, and is driven by the motivation to identify solutions to environment and development problems. Dr. Klinger and her students collaborate with local communities in the Brazilian Amazon experimenting with new livelihood and cultural survival strategies in the face of climate change. Her other research examines the political economy and environmental geopolitics of outer space, with special attention to new actors, technologies, and practices emerging across the Global South.

Her work has been published in The Extractive Industries and Society, Journal of Chinese Political Science, Nikkei Asian Review, Dialogo Chino, Sustainability, and The Political Economy of Rare Earth Elements. She is the guest editor of forthcoming collections in Geopolitics, Journal of Latin American Geography, and Territory, Politics, Governance.

At Boston University, she teaches classes on sustainable development, global resource geopolitics, China and Latin America. She is the co-director of the Land Use and Livelihoods Initiative at the Global Development Policy Center.


Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2018. “Rare earth elements: Development, sustainability, and policy issues.” The Extractive Industries and Society 5(1): 1 – 7.

Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2018. “The Cleantech Revolution Must Start with Mining.” Dialogo Chino. February 8. Published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese. https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/10407-The-clean-tech-revolution-must-start-with-mining

Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2017. Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Dunnet, Oliver, Andrew S. Maclaren, Julie Klinger, K. Maria D. Lane, Daniel Sage. 2018. “Geographies of outer space: Progress and new opportunities.” Progress in Human Geography. DOI: 10.1177/0309132517747727

Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2017. “The uneasy relationship between “China” and “Globalization” in Post-Cold War Scholarship.” Chapter 13 in Burchart, M., and Kirn, G. (eds). Beyond Neoliberalism:  Social Analysis after 1989. Palgrave Macmillian. Pp. 215 – 233.

Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2017. “Book Review: Placing Outer Space by Lisa Messeri.”  Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. April. Available at: http://societyandspace.org/2017/04/11/placing-outer-space-by-lisa-messeri/

Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2016.  “Chinese fishermen face global entanglements” Nikkei Asian Review. April 9. https://asia.nikkei.com/Viewpoints-archive/Viewpoints/Julie-Michelle-Klinger-Chinese-fishermen-face-global-entanglements?page=1

Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2015. “A historical geography of rare earth elements: From discovery to the atomic age.”  The Extractive Industries and Society 2, No. 3:  572 – 580.

Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2015. “The environment-security nexus in contemporary rare earth politics.” In The Political Economy of Rare Earth Elements:  Rising Powers and Technological Change, edited by Ryan David Kiggins, 133 – 155. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

König, Hannes J., Aranka Podhora, Lin Zhen, Katharina Helming, Huimin Yang, Bingzhen Du, Jost Wübbeke, Chao Wang, Julie Klinger, Cheng Chen, Sandra Uthes. 2015. “Knowledge brokerage for impact assessment of land use scenarios in Inner Mongolia, China: Extending and testing the FoPIA approach.” Sustainability 7, No. 5: 5027 – 5049.


Political economy and political ecology; Natural resource geopolitics; outer space; frontiers, conflict, and security; mining; rare earth elements; Brazil – China relations