Dr Matt Wilde

Lecturer in Human Geography

School/Department: Geography, Geology & The Environment, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3315



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Matt is an interdisciplinary social scientist who specialises in research on energy and natural resources, popular democracies and urban politics, 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 people's everyday political and moral lives are shaped by wider social forces, particularly those that relate to energy, infrastructure and natural resources. Matt has published in a range of scholarly publications including Anthropology TodayBulletin of Latin American ResearchCritique of AnthropologyCultural AnthropologyEthnosLatin American Perspectives and the Radical Housing Journal. He has also written op-ed pieces for CounterpunchThe 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 to explore how Venezuela's contradictory relationship with petroleum shaped myriad aspects of everyday life during a period of complex social upheaval. Encompassing themes such as aspiration, kinship, insecurity, moral subjectivity, political participation and economic crisis, Matt's work offers an accessible way of understanding the turbulent nature of Bolivarian Venezuela and the struggles of working-class Venezuelans to craft their lives amid its many paradoxes. It also provides a new theoretical synthesis between anthropological work on oil, politics and morality that speaks to wider debates about energy transitions, climate justice and fossil capitalism.

Most recently, Matt's research 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 exploring the materialities and moralities that underpin the global wind industry amid the drive for decarbonisation.

Alongside his work in Latin America, Matt has also carried out fieldwork on the politics of housing insecurity 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 VenezuelaStanford: Stanford University Press. 

Journal articles

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
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