Matt is an interdisciplinary social scientist who specialises in research on popular democracies and urban politics, energy and natural resources, everyday moralities and ethnographic approaches to the state. He received his PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2013 and previously held research and teaching positions with the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS), the University of Sussex and the LSE. Matt's main regional interest is Latin America, with a specific focus on Venezuela. His work has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS), the Camel Trust, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Independent Social Research Fund (ISRF).
Matt's work sits at the interface between social anthropology and critical geography. He is interested in how political ideas, social movements and everyday moral experiences are shaped by wider economic forces, particularly those that relate to energy, infrastructure and natural resources. Matt has published in a range of scholarly publications including Anthropology Today, Bulletin of Latin American Research, Critique of Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnos, Latin American Perspectives and the Radical Housing Journal. He has also written op-ed pieces for Counterpunch, The Guardian and Public Books.
Matt's first monograph examines the lived experience of political change, moral uncertainty, and economic crisis amid Venezuela's controversial Bolivarian Revolution. Titled A Blessing and a Curse: Oil, Politics and Morality in Bolivarian Venezuela (2023, Stanford University Press), the book draws on ethnographic research conducted in an urban barrio over the course of a decade. Matt argues that everyday life in this period was intimately shaped by a critical contradiction: that in their efforts to capture a larger portion of oil money and distribute it more widely among the population, the governments of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro pursued policies that ultimately entrenched Venezuela in the very position of dependency they sought to overcome. Offering a new synthesis between anthropological work on energy, politics, and morality, the book explores how the use of oil money to fund the revolution's social programs and political reforms produced profound cultural anxieties about the contaminating effects of petroleum revenues in everyday settings. Tracing how these anxieties rippled out into community life, family networks, and local politics, Matt shows how questions about how to live a good life came to be intimately shaped by Venezuela's contradictory relationship with oil. In doing so, he brings a vital perspective to contemporary debates about energy transitions by proposing a new way of thinking about the political and moral economies of natural resources in postcolonial settings.
Most recently, Matt's work has traced the experiences of Venezuela's growing transnational population amid a mass movement of people to other parts of the Americas. He is currently developing new research thinking through the relationship between the drive for decarbonisation and questions of "just transitions" for states and populations in the Global South.
Alongside his work in Latin America, Matt has also carried out fieldwork on the politics and moralities of housing in London as part of a collaborative Europe-wide project looking at advice, governance and care in settings of austerity. He retains a political and theoretical interest in questions of contested urban change.
Wilde, M (2023) A Blessing and a Curse: Oil, Politics, and Morality in Bolivarian Venezuela. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Wilde, M (2022) Eviction, gatekeeping and militant care: moral economies of housing in austerity London. Ethnos 87(1): 22-41.
Wilde, M (2019) Resisting the rentier city: grassroots housing activism and renter subjectivity in post-crisis London. Radical Housing Journal 1(2): 63-80.
Wilde, M (2018) To Fill Yourself with Goodness: Revolutionary Self-Making in Bolivarian Venezuela. Bulletin of Latin American Research 37(2): 130-143.
Wilde, M (2017) Embryonic alternatives amid London's housing crisis. Anthropology Today, 33(5): 16-19.
Wilde, M (2017) Utopian disjunctures: popular democracy and the communal state in urban Venezuela. Critique of Anthropology, 37(1): 47-66.
Wilde, M (2016) Contested Spaces: Participatory Democracy and the Communal Councils in Chávez’s Venezuela. Latin American Perspectives, 212, 44(1): 140-158.
Wilde, M (2020) After Corona: The Ethical Case for a Green New Deal. University of Leicester Research Bites seminar.
Wilde, M (2018) Debt and precarious housing: ending a vicious cycle. UCL Institute for Global Prosperity.
Wilde, M (2017) Why Theresa’s May pledges won’t fix the UK’s housing disaster. The Guardian.
Wilde, M (2017) Populism, Right and Left. Public Books.
Wilde, M (2016) Our immoral housing policy is set up to punish the poor. The Guardian.
Wilde, M (2015) Participation and Polarization After Chávez. Cultural Anthropology (online special issue on political crisis in Venezuela).
Wilde, M (2011) On the Riots and the Need for a New Commons. Counterpunch.
Wilde, M (2022) State of Heath: Pleasure and Politics in Venezuelan Health Care under Chávez, by Amy Cooper. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (114) Rev. 4.
Wilde, M (2019) Channeling the State: Community Media and Popular Politics in Venezuela, by Naomi Schiller. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (108), Rev. 3.
Wilde, M (2014) Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First Century Socialism, by Roger Burbach, Michael Fox and Federico Fuentes. Bulletin of Latin American Research 34(1): 131-133.
Wilde, M (2014) Chávez’s Children: Ideology, Education, and Society in Latin America, by Manuel Anselmi. Journal of Latin American Studies, No. 46, 622-624.
Wilde, M (2011) Who Can Stop The Drums? Urban Social Movements in Chávez’s Venezuela, by Sujatha Fernandes. Alborada: Latin America Uncovered.
Matt is interested in supervising PhD students in the following areas:
- Activism and urban politics
- Democracy and populism
- Critical urban studies
- Ethnographic approaches to the state
- Political economies of energy and infrastructure
- Europe, Latin America and the UK
Matt teaches on the following modules:
GY1422: Introduction to Leicester Geographies
GY2412: Economy, Society and Space
GY2415: Overseas Field Course
GY2416: Space, Territory and Power
GY3412: Cities of the Global South
GY7411: Contemporary Critical Geographies
GY7412: Creative Geographies in Practice
Press and media
Matt is available for comment in the following areas:
- The social and political life of Venezuela
- Urban politics in Latin America and the UK
- Political economies of energy and infrastructure