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Daniel Renfrew, Ph.D.

Chair & Professor - Anthropology


Daniel Renfrew is Professor of Anthropology at West Virginia University. He received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Binghamton University, State University of New York in 2007. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Latin American journals Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (JLACA) and Interversar. He is also a faculty affiliate with the Grupo CSIC de Antropología y Ambiente (Sectorial Commission of Scientific Research on Anthropology and the Environment), at the Universidad de la República, Uruguay.

Dr. Renfrew’s research interests span the environmental, urban, critical medical and political anthropology sub-fields, and his research draws from and contributes to interdisciplinary scholarship on social movements, science and technology studies, political ecology, and Latin American studies. Dr. Renfrew’s ongoing research agenda focuses on anthropological and political ecological analyses of toxic exposures and environmental conflicts, examining two general themes: 1) toxics, health and environmental justice; and 2) the political ecology of resource extraction and conservation. Following long term research on lead poisoning in Montevideo, which culminated in the book Life without Lead: Contamination, Crisis, and Hope in Uruguay, he is currently engaged in two major research projects. The first is a collaborative, multi-sited ethnographic study, funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, of community responses to PFAS contamination in the mid-Ohio River Valley and Upper Great Lakes regions of the United States. The second continues research in Uruguay, critically focusing on “green extractivism” through analysis of the interstices of extractive development and biodiversity conservation within Uruguay’s plantation forestry/pulp industry complex.

Dr. Renfrew’s teaching interests, in addition to contributing to core curriculum in cultural anthropology and anthropological theory, focus broadly on environmental studies and political ecology, environmental justice, urban studies, critical health studies, science and technology studies, Latin American studies, and social movements. He directs the Environment and Society Lab ( He also serves as a faculty advisor and chaperone for service-learning study abroad trips to Cochabamba, Bolivia through the Amizade program (

Dr. Renfrew is currently accepting sociology graduate students interested in research in the above topics. WVU undergraduate students interested in working with Dr. Renfrew’s Environment and Society Lab or participating in the Bolivia Amizade study abroad program are encouraged to contact him directly. 


Selected Publications

Daniel Renfrew. (2018).  Life Without Lead: Contamination, Crisis, and Hope in Uruguay. University of California Press.

2023   Thomas W. Pearson and Daniel Renfrew, “When Toxic Heritage is Forever: Confronting PFAS Contamination and Toxicity as Lived Experience,” In Toxic Heritage: Legacies, Futures, and Environmental Injustice. Edited by Elizabeth Kryder-Reid and Sarah May. New York and London: Routledge.

2021     Daniel Renfrew and Thomas W. Pearson, “The Social Life of the ‘Forever Chemical’: PFAS Pollution Legacies and Toxic Events,” Environment and Society: Advances in Research 12 (2021): 146-163. 

2017    Daniel Renfrew , “Spectral Science: Tracing the Conflict Zones of Uruguayan Lead Poisoning,” Culture, Theory and Critique 58(4), special issue “Invisible Harm,” edited by Donna Goldstein. DOI: 10.1080/14735784.201 7.1356739

2017    Daniel Renfrew and Carlos Santos, “Mega-Mining Sovereignty: Landscapes of Power and Protest in Uruguay’s New Extractivist Frontier” in ExtrACTION: Impacts, Engagements, and Alternative Futures, edited by Kirk Jalbert, Anna Willow, David Casagrande, and Stephanie Paladino, London/New York: Routledge, pp. 31-45.

2016    Daniel Renfrew and Genesis Snyder, “Introduction” to Mobilizing Race: Borders, Translations, MovementsCity & Society 28(3): 271-275. Special issue section edited by Daniel Renfrew and Genesis Snyder.

2014    Jacob Matz and Daniel Renfrew, “Selling ‘Fracking’: Energy in Depth and the Marcellus Shale,” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2014.929157

Courses Taught

ANTH 254 Cultural Anthropology

ANTH 254 7D1 Cultural Anthropology (online summer)

ANTH 350 Latin American Cultures

ANTH 350 7D1 Latin American Cultures (online summer)

ANTH 393 Power and Protest in Latin America (for Amizade Bolivia Study Abroad)

ANTH 359 Anthropological Thought

ANTH 457 Social Movements/ SOCA 693 Advanced Social Movements

ANTH 458 Environmental Anthropology/ SOCA 693 Advanced Environmental Anthro

ANTH 488 The Capstone Experience