Dr Kärg Kama BA MSc DPhil

Photo of Dr Kärg Kama

Geography and Environmental Sciences
Associate Professor in Human Geography

Contact details

Dr Kärg Kama develops critical social science perspectives on natural resources development, specialising in unconventional fossil fuels, at the intersection of political geography, science and technology studies, and economic sociology. Dr Kama currently holds an ESRC Future Research Leaders award to study the scientific and political controversies of shale gas development in Europe. She is also an Honorary Research Associate at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford.


  • DPhil Geography and the Environment (University of Oxford)
  • MSc Nature, Society and Environmental Policy (University of Oxford)
  • BA Philosophy (University of Tartu)


Dr Kärg Kama completed her postgraduate studies in Geography at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2007 with an MSc (Distinction) and in 2013 with a DPhil (thesis title 'Unconventional Futures: Anticipation, Materiality, and the Market in Oil Shale Development’), both supervised by Professor Andrew Barry. Her studies were supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Award, the Chevening Scholarship of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Kristjan Jaak Scholarship of the Estonian government.

Before taking up a permanent lectureship at the University of Birmingham in April 2018, Dr Kama held several post-doctoral fellowships at Oxford. In 2013, she was awarded a three-year Biegun Warburg Junior Research Fellowship at St Anne’s College, combined with a research and teaching fellowship at the School of Geography. In 2016, she was awarded an ESRC Future Research Leaders fellowship and continued her teaching at St Anne’s College as Stipendiary Lecturer. She currently continues to be associated with the Oxford geography department as Honorary Research Associate.

Prior to moving to the UK in 2006, Dr Kama also worked professionally for seven years in her home country of Estonia. She was employed by the national audit office and environmental NGOs to monitor the state government's performance in environmental policy-making, resource management, and the use of EU financial instruments.


Year 1: GGM109 Tutorials

Year 2: GGM225 Environmental Assessment and Management

Year 3: Extractive Politics option (under development)

Postgraduate supervision

Cyrus Nayeri (ESRC studentship at the University of Oxford) - Governing the ungovernable: investigating the geopolitics of volcano hazard management on Iceland's South Coast (co-supervised with Dr Beth Greenhough and Dr Jamie Lorimer) 

Kärg welcomes proposals from potential PhD applicants on the following topics:

  • The scientific and political controversies of unconventional fossil fuels development and other extractive frontiers
  • ‘Resource-making’ processes: resource ontologies, materialities, and temporalities
  • New materialist approaches to critical geopolitics and ‘political geology’
  • Politics of expert knowledge, public engagement and environmental resistance around extractive economies and infrastructures
  • Waste geographies, circular economy, alternative and lay economic theories


ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2050-3989
Scopus Author ID: 55973774400

Dr Kama’s doctoral and postdoctoral research has developed nascent scholary interests in 'resource-making' practices, including the contentious scientific practices, economic interventions and political struggles through which new components of the material world are rendered feasible for exploration and production. The empirical focus of this research has been on unconventional fossil fuels, but also on non-energy materials and wastes.

Her DPhil thesis, entitled 'Unconventional Futures: Anticipation, Materiality, and the Market in Oil Shale Development' offers one of the first scholarly arguments for a relational and processual account of 'resource materialities' and anticipatory energy economies. It is based on a detailed analysis of how oil shale exploitation is perpetuated through the promise of future prosperity, standardised across disparate geo-economic environments, and subsequently transforms the carbon economy and politics.

Her current ESRC-funded research project, 'Geo-logics and Geo-politics: The Collective Governance of European Shale Gas Development' (£149,196) explores the geoscientific disputes and geopolitical struggles arising from the recent uptake of ‘fracking’ in EU countries. This research accounts for the epistemologically and politically transformative potential of resource-making controversies in reconfiguring expert knowledge production, science-policy relations and forms of public activism around extractive economies.

Dr Kama’s wider research is concerned with the nascent field of ‘political geology’, material economies and post-capitalist futures. She is currently developing her conceptual interests in three directions. First, she is part of a broader interdisciplinary initiative that develops new materialist approaches to study the relationship between geosciences and geopolitics, building on the resurgent interest in the subsurface across the social sciences. Second, together with Dr Gisa Weszkalnys (LSE), she is developing the concept of 'resource temporalities' which accounts for diverse engagements with time in resource-based economies. Third, Kärg continues to engage with ideas of the performativity of economics in the context of alternative, ostensibly non-capitalist material economies centred on reduced consumption, recycling and degrowth movements.

Other activities

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), American Association of Geographers (AAG) and European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST).

Member of the Energy Anthropology Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)

Member of the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction

Peer review for: Environment and Planning A, Environment and Planning D, Extractive Industries and Society, Geo: Geography and the Environment, Geoforum, Geopolitics, Political Geography, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers


Kama, K (forthcoming) ‘Resource-making controversies: knowledge, anticipatory politics and economization of unconventional fossil fuels. Progress in Human Geography.

Kama, K and Kuchler, M (2019) ’Geo-metrics and geo-politics: controversies in estimating European shale gas resources’. Chapter 4 in Bobbette, A and Donovan, A (Eds) Political Geology: Active Stratigraphies and the Making of Life. Palgrave Macmillan, pp.105–145.

Kama, K (2016) ‘Contending geo-logics: energy security, resource ontologies, and the politics of expert knowledge in Estonia’. Geopolitics 21 (4): 831–856.

Kama, K (2015) ‘Circling the economy: resource-making and marketization in EU electronic waste policy’, Area 47 (1): 16–23.

Bradshaw, M, Chindo, M, Dutton, J, and Kama, K (2015) ‘Unconventional fossil fuels and technological change’. Chapter 14 in, Ekins, P, Bradshaw, M and Watson, J (Eds) Global Energy: Issues, Potentials, and Policy Implications. Oxford University Press, pp.268–290.

Kama, K (2015) Review of Gavin Bridge and Philippe Le Billon ‘Oil’ (Cambridge: Polity), Journal of International Development, 27 (4): 568–570.

Kama, K (2014) ‘On the borders of the market: EU emissions trading, energy security, and the technopolitics of ‘carbon leakage’’. Geoforum 51: 202–212.