Emily McKee

Research Interests

Dr. Emily McKee holds joint appointments with the Anthropology Department and the Institute for the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy. Her expertise lies in environmental and Middle East anthropology, with a specific focus on political ecology. Her research spans various field sites and encompasses the following interests:

  • Examining the drawing and policing of group boundaries.
  • Investigating experiences related to agriculture and environmental change.
  • Exploring environmental sustainability activism.

In the Middle East, Dr. McKee's research focuses on land conflicts and socio-environmental movements. Her current research delves into the drivers of inequitable water access in Israel/Palestine, studying the reactions of Palestinians and Israelis to water scarcity, resource competition, water conservation campaigns, and changing water treatment technologies. Past research centered on the Naqab/Negev region of Israel, uncovering disputes between Jewish and Bedouin Arab citizens and governmental bodies over land access for farming and housing, as well as the status of unrecognized Bedouin villages.

In the United States, Dr. McKee explores farming, sustainability, and food systems. She investigates the challenges and innovative strategies of small- and mid-scale farmers, delves into movements for food justice, and analyzes the evolving landscapes of local food systems. Current collaborative projects include a focus on food hubs as interventions in regional food systems and an examination of how farmers adapt to weather variability and climate change through forecasting.

Student Research and Mentoring

Students interested in gaining research experience in areas such as political ecology, water conservation, water justice, international water disputes, Middle East studies, alternative agriculture, and local and regional food systems are encouraged to contact Professor McKee. Students with all language proficiencies are welcome, with a special invitation to those proficient in Hebrew or Arabic. Research opportunities span various topics, including:

  • Creating/compiling teaching tools related to forthcoming book topics (water, power and conflict, scarcity, Palestine).
  • Conducting literature reviews of research on food hubs, local and regional food systems, and food sovereignty.
  • Undertaking comparative analyses of food systems curricula.

Selected Publications


McKee, Emily. 2016. Dwelling in Conflict: Negev Landscapes and the Boundaries of Belonging. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Selected Articles

McKee, Emily. 2023. “Coping with Complexity in Water Management: Lessons from Palestine.” Human Organization 82 (3): 209–22. 

McKee, Emily. 2022. “The Power of Water in Palestinian-Israeli Relations.” In Routledge Companion on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, edited by Asaf Siniver, 248–61. London: Routledge.

McKee, Emily. 2021. “Where Do ‘Localphiles’ Shop?: A Mixed-Methods Case Study of Food-Buying Habits.” Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 10 (2): 1–20.

McKee, Emily. 2019. “Water, Power, and Refusal: Confronting Evasive Accountability in a Palestinian Village.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 25 (3): 546–65.

McKee, Emily. 2018. “Environmental Framing and Its Limits: Campaigns in Palestine and Israel.International Journal of Middle East Studies 50 (3): 449–70. 

McKee, Emily. 2018. “‘It’s the Amazon World’: Small-Scale Farmers on an Entrepreneurial Treadmill.Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 40 (1): 65–69.

McKee, Emily 2015. "Demolitions and Amendments: Coping with Cultural Recognition and Its Denial in Southern Israel.Nomadic Peoples 19 (1): 95-119.

McKee, Emily. 2015. “Trash Talk: Interpreting Morality and Disorder in Negev/Naqab Landscapes.” Current Anthropology 56 (5): 733–52. .

McKee, Emily 2014. "Performing Rootedness in the Negev/Naqab: Possibilities and Perils of Competitive Planting.Antipode 46 (5): 1172-89.




Associate Professor
Office: Stevens Building Room 179


Ph.D., University of Michigan

Office Hours

  • Thursdays: 12:30-1:30 p.m. (In-person and online; email Dr. McKee to request the meeting link)

Fall 2023 Courses

  • Being Human: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 220)
  • Waterworlds (ANTH 420/ENVS 420x)

Spring 2024 Courses

  • Nature in Society: Environmental Social Sciences and Humanities (ENVS 303)
  • Environment and Anthropology (ANTH 425/525, ENVS 425x)