Valentina Fiasco

Valentina Fiasco


I am a PhD student, part of the Sustainability Research Institute, funded by the ESRC through the White Rose Social Sciences DTP programme. In my research, I am interested in combining insights from the humanities and the natural sciences to understand the complex relationships between people and wildlife.

My academic background is multidisciplinary. I was trained as a wildlife manager in Tanzania, where I attended the College of African Wildlife Management (MWEKA) before studying natural resource management and political ecology at Wageningen University and social research at the University of Leeds.

In the last few years, I have been interested in understanding the social aspects and politics of conservation and the complex dynamics of conflict and coexistence that occur between local communities, conservationists, and wildlife. Specifically, my past research has focused on understanding how ideas of human-wildlife coexistence are circulating in academic and policy spaces and how these emerging discourses are translated into practice. I am particularly interested in understanding how different actors know, conceptualise, and enact human-wildlife interactions and the conditions that drive conflict and coexistence. This includes paying attention to the ontological discord between local communities and conservationists that have different ways of understanding and relating to nature, and how this manifests in everyday practices.

Research interests


  • Multispecies environmental justice
  • Conservation conflicts
  • More-than-human geography 
  • Human-wildlife interactions

For my doctoral project, I am exploring human-elephant interactions in Tanzania, focusing on traditional coexistence practices and local ecological knowledge, including the politics of knowledge that emerge within projects that manage human-elephant conflicts. I am interested in undertaking a multispecies ethnographic approach to emphasise the role and agency of elephants in shaping coexistence and knowledge production processes. By drawing on this approach, I aim to move beyond understanding nature as separate from humans and towards embracing diverse worldviews to share planet Earth.


  • MA Social Research, University of Leeds
  • MSc Forest and Nature Conservation, Wageningen University and Research
  • BSc African Wildlife Management, College of African Wildlife Management (MWEKA)

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • Environment and Development