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Max Ritts

I am an environmental geographer, with interests in sustainability, critical theory, and creative methods. Threaded throughout my work is a commitment to interdisciplinary research. I utilize innovative methodologies and creative platforms to work with diverse academic communities.


My research examines sustainability through a focus on environmental data cultures – a macro structure that increasingly shapes the way individuals, institutions, and diverse natures feature within natural-human systems. By ‘environmental data culture’, I refer to the platforms, hardware devices (e.g. infrastructures, sensors, software), and socio-technical practices that enable actors to generate environmental data and manage environmental outcomes. This approach builds on my dissertation, an 18-month ethnography of resource development politics on the North Coast of British Columbia. Situated in an emerging “Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor” – an infrastructural initiative for connecting Canadian resource economies to Asian energy interests – and working with a range of local community groups – including marine scientists, First Nations, and state regulators – my research indicates that the politics of development increasingly turn on social and sensory practices of data management, remote sensing, and animal tracking.

Selected publications

Book Chapter

Ritts, M “Saturation as a Logic of Enclosure” in Saturation (Eds. Melody Jue and Rafico Ruiz). Accepted at Duke University Press

Bakker, K and Ritts, M “Smart Earth: Environmental Governance in a Wired World”in The Nature of Data: Infrastructures, Environments, Politics (Eds. Jenny Goldstein and Eric Nost). Accepted at University of Nebraska Press

Peer-reviewed articles

Ritts, M and Wiebe, S (Under review). “The Story of Wānanalua: Whales, Science, and Contested Marine Sovereignties in Hawai‘i.” Environment and Planning E.

Ritts, M and Bakker, K “New Forms: Anthropocene Festivals, and Experimental Environmental Governance.” Accepted at Environment and Planning E [special theme issue: ‘The Politics of Environmental Data’].

Bakker, K; Knight, R; Leape, J; Ng, R; Mackworth, A; and Ritts, M “Innovation in environmental governance: Digital technologies and dynamic, contemporaneous resource management.” Accepted at Nature Sustainability

Ritts, M and Greening, S (2018) “Gyitwaalkt: Tsimshian Crosscurrents and Heavy Metal” BC Studies 198, pp. 153-162

Bakker, K and Ritts, M, (2018) “Smart Earth: A meta-review and implications for environmental governance” Global Environmental Change 52, pp. 201-211

Ritts, M, Johnson, K, and Peyton J, (2018) “Canoes, Modernity and the Colonial Imagining of Progress” Geohumanities 4.1

Ritts, M (2017) “Amplifying Environmental Politics: Ocean Noise.” Antipode 49 (5), pp. 1406-1426.

Ritts, M (2017) “Guided By Voices: Whale Music and Environmentalism, 1965-1985.” Environment and Planning D 35, 6

Ritts, M and Shiga J (2016) “Military Cetology” Environmental Humanities 8 (2), pp. 196-214.

Ritts, M and S. Gage; C. Picard, E. Dundas and S. Dundas (2016) “Application of citizen science to establish baseline acoustical conditions in Gitga’at Territory, British Columbia, Canada.” Global Ecology and Conservation 7, pp. 14-26.


(a teaching module I designed that equips undergraduates with training in field-based digital recording technologies)