David Bond

Image of David Bond
Associate Director, Center for the Advancement of Public Action

David Bond works with communities besieged by the fossil fuel industry to develop a more transformative grasp of environmental justice for people, politics, and critical theory.


David Bond is a cultural anthropologist whose ethnographic research and public engagements aim to dismantle the imperial, epistemic, and altogether catastrophic reign of petro-capitalism. In historical excavations of the environmental racism that exempts oil refineries from pollution controls by dint of their colonial location in the American Caribbean, in fieldwork on how environmental protections often encase fossil fuel infrastructure in impenetrable ethics, and in collaborative campaigns with frontline communities to publicize corporate maleficence and prosecute polluters, Bond’s work strives to hold the empire of oil accountable for its profitable destruction of our planet while making room for radical alternatives inside the classroom and impacted communities. Our world is entering a new epoch of induced upheaval. So many communities battered by the poisonous reach of petrochemicals and climactic fallout of fossil fuels are eager for bold explanations of what is happening, who is responsible, and what alternatives are within reach. In response, Bond’s scholarship insists on the relevance of anthropology to: 1) craft cogent accounts of environmental disruptions that exceed disciplined knowledge and institutional jurisdiction; 2) recognize unhinged catastrophe without giving up on justice in the here and now, and 3) insist on the ability of ethnography to build common ground in an age of ecological upheaval and economic decline. In 2022, Bond was awarded the “New Directions Prize for Public Anthropology” by the American Anthropological Association.

Bond received his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the New School for Social Research in 2013. With generous support from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the National Science Foundation, Wenner Gren, and others, Bond’s research routinely forms the basis of press releases, draft legislation, opinion pieces for small-town newspapers, and essays for flagship anthropology journals. Engaging questions of materiality, toxicity, empire, and critique. Bond’s scholarship has been published in leading journals such as American Ethnologist, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Cultural Anthropology, and Radical History Review, and he serves on the editorial board of AE and Current Anthropology. Bond’s work has been featured in Bloomberg News, the Guardian, Inside Climate News, The Intercept, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, among other news outlets.

Bond’s first book, Negative Ecologies: Fossil Fuels and the Discovery of the Environment, argues that most of what we know of clean air, clean water, and now a stable climate in the United States emerged in the wake of fossil fueled disasters. Yet the resulting environmental science and policy never faced up to these disasters directly, instead working to manage the effects as a separate matter of concern. The environment, in other words, has not so much provided an effective counterweight to the American addiction to oil so much as it provided the acceptable parameters for that addiction to deepen and spread.

Bond was Member of the School of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton 2018-19 for the theme “Crisis and Critique” (organized by Didier Fassin and Axel Honneth). Bond was also an invited Visitor at IAS 2022-23 for the theme “Climate Crisis Politics” (organized by Wendy Brown and Timothy Mitchell). He also holds an affiliation with the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont (UVM).

Bond has taught at Bennington College since 2013. He is also the Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action. Bond helped found the Prison Education Initiative (PEI) at Bennington College in 2015 with Annabel Davis-Goff. Many of his students have secured jobs with leading environmental justice organizations or gained admissions to top graduate anthropology programs in the United States and Europe.

Current Research Projects

A Crucian Crucible: Environmental Justice on St. Croix 

Environment: A Disastrous History of the Hydrocarbon Present

The Ends of Oil: Nature and Culture in a Changing Alaska

Understanding PFOA


David Bond. 2022. Negative Ecologies: Fossil Fuels and the Discovery of the Environment (University of California Press). 

Peer Reviewed Publications

David Bond. 2023. "Public Anthropology in a Pandemic: Advocacy, Ethnography, and Theory," General Anthropology, 30(1): pp. 6-11. 

David Bond. 2022. "Anthropology in an Age of Upheaval: Reflections on Environmental Justice in the American Empire of Oil," Anthropologia Pubblica, 8(1): pp. 157-82.

Daniel Aldana Cohen and David Bond. 2022. "Towards a Theory of Climate Praxis: Confronting Climate Change in a World of Struggle," in Crisis Under Critique, eds. Didier Fassin and Axel Honneth. Columbia UP): pp. 271-292.

David Bond. 2021. "Contamination in Theory and Protest," American Ethnologist, 48(4). 

David Bond. 2021. “What’s Wrong with the White Working Class?,” Anthropology Nowspecial issue on Trumpism, 13(1): pp. 37-43.

Tim Schroeder, David Bond, and Janet Foley. 2021. “PFAS Soil and Groundwater Contamination Via Industrial Airborne Emission and Land Deposition in SW Vermont and Eastern New York State, USA,” Environmental Science: Processes and Impact, Advance Article (Jan 1).

David Bond. 2018. "Environment: Critical Reflections on the Concept," Occasional Papers of the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Paper Number 64 (November). 

David Bond. 2017.​ "Oil in the Caribbean: Refineries, Mangroves, and the Negative Ecologies of Crude Oil," Comparative Studies in Society and History, 59(3): pp. 600-628.

David Bond. 2015. “The Promising Predicament of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Anthropology Now, 7(1): pp. 20-28.

Lucas Bessire and David Bond. 2014. “Ontological Anthropology and the Deferral of Critique,” American Ethnologist, 41(3): pp. 440-456.

David Bond. 2013. “Governing Disaster: The Political Life of the Environment During the BP Oil Spill,” Cultural Anthropology, 28(4): pp. 694-715.

David Bond. 2011. “The Science of Catastrophe: Making Sense of the BP Oil Spill,” Anthropology Now, 3(1): pp. 36-46.

Ann Laura Stoler and David Bond. 2006. “Refractions Off Empire: Untimely Comparisons in Harsh Times,” Radical History Review (95), pp. 93-107.

Scholarly Contributions

David Bond. 2024. "Ethnography in the Fight," Engagement: Anthropology and Environment Society (Mar. 4). 

David Bond. 2020. Understanding PFOAMedical Anthropology Quarterly, Critical Care Series (Nov. 16).

David Bond. 2020. A House Divided: Ben Lerner's AmericaAnthropology Now, (12:2): pp. 101-8.

David Bond and John Hultgren. 2020. History, Once More, In the Gear of Social ChangeInternational Karl Polanyi Society Newsletter (June). 

David Bond. 2020. After OilAnthropology News, Climate Issue (March/April): pp. 22-25.

Lucas Bessire and David Bond. 2017. “Introduction: The Rise of Trumpism,” Virtual Issue, Cultural     Anthropology, guest edited by Bessire and Bond, January 18. [most shared collection of CA]

David Bond and Lucas Bessire. 2014. “Ontology: A Difficult Keyword,” Virtual Issue, American Ethnologist, guest edited by Bond and Bessire, September 25.

David Bond and Lucas Bessire. 2014. “The Ontological Spin,” Fieldsights—Commentary, Cultural Anthropology Online, February 28.

Zohra Beben. 2013. “Interview with David Bond,” Cultural Anthropology Online, November 15.

David Bond. 2013. “Crude Domination?,” The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 18(3): pp. 527-9.

David Bond. 2013. “What Was Lost in the BP Oil Spill?,” Anthropology Now, 5(3): pp. 97-101.

Public Engagements

David Bond. 2022. "Can the Refinery Save St. Croix?St. Croix Source (Sept 5).

David Bond, Frandelle Gerard, Sommer Sibilly-Brown, and Jennifer Valiulis. 2022. "Refining Reality: What Really Happened Last Year?St. Croix Source (Aug 22).

David Bond. 2021. "Forever Chemicals and the Contamination Crisis in the US," Interview on KALW, San Francisco (Nov 1).

David Bond. 2021. “Are PFAS Too Toxic To Fail?,” The Guardian (Oct 24).

David Bond. 2021. "A Crucian Parable," Stabroek News (Aug 9).

David Bond. 2021. "Are We Being Kept Safe From 'Forever Chemicals' Being Injected at Fracking Sites?The Guardian (July 21).

David Bond. 2021. "A Crucian Crucible: Exploding the Impossible Continuum of Now," a six part historical series in the St. Croix Source (May-June). 

---------- 1. The First Green New Deal (May 18, 2021)

---------- 2. Manufactured Progress (May 26, 2021)

---------- 3. Crude Prosperity (June 5, 2021)

David Bond. 2021. “The US Military is Poisoning Communities across the US with Toxic Chemicals,” The Guardian (Mar 25).

David Bond, Janet Foley, and Tim Schroeder. 2020. Ban All Incineration of PFAS in New York, Op-Ed in Times Union (May 31): D2.

David Bond, Jakub Crcha, and Shachi Mokashi. 2019. Oil Train Smuggles Deadly Risk into our Backyards, Again, Op-Ed in Bennington Banner (Oct 18).

David Bond. 2018. PFOA Victims Deserve Medical Monitoring, Health Care, Op-Ed in Times Union (Aug 21).

David Bond, Janet Foley, and Tim Schroeder. 2018. New Research Suggests PFOA Contamination Far More Extensive Than Originally ThoughtBennington Banner (Aug 2): A6.

David Bond and Jorja Rose. 2018. Saint-Gobain's Claims Don't Hold WaterVermont Digger (May 20).

David Bond. 2017. Oil Trains in Bennington: Context and Concerns, Bennington Banner (Nov 26): A6.

David Bond and Phoebe Cohen. 2017. “Dismantling EPA: What This Means for Vermont,” Op-Ed in Bennington Banner (Feb 1): pp. A6.