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School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment

Faculty and Staff Directory

Monica Barra

Title: Assistant Professor
Department: School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment and Department of Anthropology
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803 576-8340
Office: EWS 501
Monica Barra

Monica Barra completed her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York in 2018. Additionally, she holds a masters degree in American Studies from Rutgers University and a bachelors degree in Urban Studies and Literature from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands. Monica joined the University of South Carolina in 2018 as an assistant professor in the area of Race and Environment at the School of the Earth, Ocean, and Environment with a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology.

Research Areas: 

  • Climate change 
  • Environmental humanities 
  • Environmental risks and hazards 
  • Society, policy, and environment


My research focuses on the ways racial belonging and difference are shaped by science, technology, and environmental change. My areas of interest include critical race studies, political ecology, and science studies, with a particular focus on North America. Currently, my research examines these topics in the lower Mississippi River Delta (Louisiana, USA), where scientists and communities of color struggle to confront coastal land loss and large-scale environmental restoration in a landscape forged by histories of racism entwined with ambitious riverine engineering projects. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, I utilize ethnographic and other qualitative methods to investigate the ways residents, scientific knowledge and practices, and the coastal landscape encounter and transform one another. Research among these groups has grown into a second project in collaboration with engineers, ecologists, fishermen, and other coastal residents to create environmental models that bring together scientific and traditional environmental knowledge. This work is aimed at democratizing scientific expertise by integrating the knowledge and values of communities most directly exposed to climate change - frontline communities - into cutting-edge scientific research on environmental restoration.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.