Affiliated Professor of Anthropology

IEES Affiliate


PDF icon Curriculum Vitae

(805) 893-2339

HSSB 2081

Walsh Water Group


Sociocultural Antropology, Political Economy, Mexico-United States Borderlines, Water, Commodities, History and Materialism

Faculty in Anthropology Department

Director of Latin American and Iberian Studies


  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley
  • M.A., New School for Social Research
  • Ph.D., New School for Social Research


Casey Walsh's research falls into two general areas. The first is the anthropological political economy of the Mexico-US borderlands. He has studied the ways in which water, land and labor have been organized to produce commodities in areas marked by aridity, especially northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. This work took the form of a socioeconomic and cultural history (Building the Borderlands) of irrigated cotton agriculture in the borderlands, and in particular, northeastern Mexico. He has also studied the cultural, political and economic dimensions of how mineral springs have been used and managed, both in the past and present. Currently he works on finishing a book on that topic (Mexican Water Cultures). He has also become increasingly involved in the politics of groundwater management in California, and is also conducting a study of how new legislation - the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) - is being enacted in the Central Coast region of that state.

His research interests include perspectives that have developed outside of Europe and North America. He has dedicated a good deal of energy to tracing the histories of different traditions within Latin American Anthropology, and the ways in which anthropological thought has been applied to development. Particularly, he is interested in concepts of race and space, and how these have been utilized by states.


Groundwater and Grapes in California’s Central Coast (2014–present)
This project assesses expanding wine grape cultivation on groundwater management in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. Particular attention is given to the recent capitalization of the sector, the depletion of aquifers, and the ensuing creation and implementation of laws regulating groundwater in California. It situates the local social and environmental dimensions of the expansion of wine grape production within global markets and climate change. 

The Social Use of Hot Springs (2010–present)
Mineral Springs have always been a central focus of the world’s different water cultures, but have received almost no attention from social scientists. This project investigates the social use and culture of mineral springs in Mexico and California, and problems concerning: 1) access; 2) infrastructure; 3) bathing; and 4) environmental values. 

Water, Agriculture and Society in the Mexican Borderlands (2001-present)
This project studies the history and current condition of water in the Mexico-United States Border region. Attention is placed on the history of cotton, and subsequent development of high-value crops. It analizes the social and economic effects caused in urban and rural sectors by water scarcity, as well as the changes to social and physical infrastructures.


Click here to view a list of publications or view Walsh's Curriculum Vitae.