environmental anthropologist & environmental humanities scholar

sophie chao

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090706-090730 INDIA LADAKH 738_edited.png

welcome to morethanhumanworlds

I am an environmental anthropologist and environmental humanities scholar interested in the intersections of capitalism, ecology, Indigeneity, health, and justice in the Pacific. My theoretical thinking is inspired by interdisciplinary currents including Science and Technology Studies, political ecology, and Indigenous, Postcolonial, and Critical Race Studies.

I am currently a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) Fellow and Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Sydney. Prior to my academic career, I worked for the international Indigenous rights organization Forest Peoples Programme in the United Kingdom and Indonesia. I have also undertaken consultancies for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations. I am currently Secretary on the Executive Committee of the Australian Anthropological Society (AAS) and Co-Convenor of the Australian Food, Society, and Culture Network (AFSCN).

I am keen to forge meaningful collaborations and conversations with Indigenous and decolonial academics, artists, and activists in Australia and beyond, towards a better understanding of and relation to, morethanhuman worlds. For more, check out the morethanhuman matters interview series, or subscribe to the mailing list.

why morethanhumanworlds?

 We live in an era in which humans have become the single most influential geological force on the planet. This epoch, coined the Anthropocene, is also one of mass species extinction, ecological destruction, and precarious futures for humans and for the myriad other-than-human lifeforms that our existence and wellbeing depend upon. Addressing the anthropogenic crisis will require nothing less than recognizing and protecting the morethanhuman worlds that we inherit, inhabit, and eventually pass on.

Morethanhuman worlds encompass plants, animals, elements, climates, and differently situated human communities that unequally bear the burden of ecological ruin and repair. Importantly, morethanhuman worlds invite us to rethink the diverse entanglements of humans with otherthanhuman life, matter, and meaning. Making and remaking such morethanhuman worlds requires care, courage, creativity, and collaboration, as we work within and across species lines towards more livable shared futures.


Duke University Press, 2022


Inaugural Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award


“The stories Sophie Chao tells in this amazing book are mesmerizing, and her interpretation of them is clear and powerful. She makes a major contribution to the intersection of multispecies and posthumanist scholarship and critical BIPOC studies in ways that could shape imaginations both in and beyond the academy. Brilliant, insightful, and meticulous, In the Shadow of the Palms will be an influential and important book.” — Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, coeditor of Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene

“Raising fundamental questions about ethnographic practice, theory, and activism, Sophie Chao offers a truly new examination of human-plant relations that pushes us forward in how we imagine, understand, and narrate these forms of relation. This excellent and beautifully written book, which is at points both heart-wrenching and joy producing, makes a field-changing contribution to anthropology, human-animal studies, political ecology, environmental humanities, and postcolonial studies.” — Paige West, author of Dispossession and the Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea

June 2022 | 336 pages, 14 illustrations | 978-1-4780-1824-7
Use coupon code E22CHAO to save 30% when ordering from dukeupress.edu

watch the trailer

listen to the podcast


read the introduction

article trailers

in the media

forest foodways in West Papua

An essay on forest foodways in Indigenous West Papua, published in art journal e-flux.

pluralizing justice in the Papuan palm oil sector


a podcast on intersectional (in)justice on the West Papuan oil palm frontier, featured in Green Dreamer. With Kamea Chayne.

17 June 2022.

bringing a dead map to life


an excerpt on Indigenous cartography from In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua, featured in SAPIENS.

15 May 2022.

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