Dr Francis Masse

Francis MassePostdoctoral Research Fellow

Contact Details:
Room: Elmfield Lodge
Email: f.masse@sheffield.ac.uk
Twitter: @geofrancismasse
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Francis_Masse


I joined the department in January 2018 as a postdoctoral research fellow with the ERC funded BIOSEC project. The project examines the connections between biodiversity conservation, the illegal wildlife trade, and security concerns. I work with Professor Rosaleen Duffy in the Department of Politics.

I completed my PhD in Geography at York University in Toronto, Canada in the winter of 2017. For my PhD research I conducted an ethnography of anti-poaching and conservation security in the Mozambique-South Africa borderlands where rhino poaching and the responses to it are at their most intense. Drawing on this research, my dissertation examined the micro-politics of conservation security and how the shifting realities and concerns of commercial poaching are (re-)shaping the logics and practices of anti-poaching, security, conservation, and the processes through which certain species, spaces, and movements are secured. My research was supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship and Foreign Study Supplement and my dissertation was awarded outstanding dissertation in Geography by York University for the 2017 year.

My current research builds on my PhD to continue looking at conservation law enforcement and the policing and security responses to commercial poaching and the illegal wildlife trade but with a focus on national and global institutions operating within but also outside of protected areas.

Professional Services

I have contributed to The Conversation, various blogs, and conducted programme evaluations for the Southern African Wildlife College, and written reports for various conservation NGOs, donors, and state conservation agencies in Mozambique and South Africa.

I have reviewed articles for Geoforum, Conservation & Society, South African Crime Quarterly, and International Journal for Ethnoprimatology.


I primarily take a political ecology and political geography approach to understanding commercial wildlife crime, the illegal wildlife trade and how state and non-state actors are responding to their escalation. I currently lead BIOSEC work Package 4 Sourcing wildlife: environmental crime, security and biodiversity protection. My research can be grouped under three broad and inter-connected themes:

Securing Protected Areas

To date my research has focused on efforts to police and secure protected areas against commercial rhino poaching in Mozambique adjacent South Africa’s Kruger National Park. In trying to understand the micro-politics and everyday realities of conservation security I conducted an ethnography of anti-poaching where I spent significant time living with and observing anti-poaching units and conservation security personnel.

Conservation Law Enforcement and Policing Biodiversity

With this research, I continue to focus on responses to wildlife crime and the illegal wildlife trade but turn my focus to national and global policing and law enforcement bodies that identify themselves as doing conservation law enforcement within but also outside of protected areas. This will help connect what is happening within protected areas across various scales, spaces, and institutions.

Gendered dynamics of poaching and anti-poaching

Drawing on my PhD research, I am developing a project to understand the gendered dynamics of the poaching economy and the militarization of conservation and its impacts.

Research Interests

  • Political ecology of conservation and security
  • Political geography of human-environment and state-nature relations
  • Critical policing, military, and security studies
  • micro-politics and everyday practices of responding to wildlife crime and the illegal wildlife trade
Publications and Papers

Peer Reviewed Publications

Massé, F., Lunstrum, E., & Holterman, D. (2017). Linking Green Militarization and Critical Military Studies. Critical Military Studies.

Massé, F., Gardiner, A., Lubilo, R., & Themba, M. (2017). Inclusive Anti-poaching? Exploring the Potential and Challenges of Community-based Anti-Poaching. South Africa Crime Quarterly, 60, 19-27.

Massé, F., & Lunstrum, E. (2016). Accumulation by securitization: Commercial poaching, neoliberal conservation, and the creation of new wildlife frontiers. Geoforum, 69, 227-237.

Massé, F. (2016). The Political Ecology of Human-Wildlife Conflict: Producing Wilderness, Insecurity, and Displacement in the Limpopo National Park. Conservation & Society, 14(2), 100-111.

Other Publications

Massé, F. (2017). Community participation is needed for more effective anti-poaching. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/community-participation-is-needed-for-more-effective-anti-poaching-82596

2014 Book Review - Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples. Refuge, 29(2), 102-104.

2013 Massé, F. and E. Lunstrum. 2013. Annotated Bibliography on Nature-Society Relations in and of International Borders. Refugee Research Network, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Toronto. Available at http://refugeeresearch.net/rrndev/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Masse-Lunstrum-Bib-on-NS-Relatios-Borders-FINAL-10-2013.pdf

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