Skip to main content

Amy R. Poteete

Associate Professor, Political Science

Amy R. Poteete
M. Petteys
Office: S-H 1225.49  
Henry F. Hall Building,
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 3486
Website(s): Amy R. Poteete - ResearchGate Profile
Amy R. Poteete - Google Scholar profile
ORCID: 0000-0002-7017-8731

Amy R. Poteete’s research explores socio-ecological and political economic relations in diverse contexts, ranging from Botswana and Sénégal to Montréal and southern Indiana (USA). She is currently working on issues related to commoning and social inclusion in four informal urban green spaces in Montreal: the Champ des Possibles in Mile End; a complex of sites including Boisé Steinberg, Boisé Vimont, and a friche in Hochelaga; the Falaise St. Jacques in Notre Dame de Grace/Sud-Ouest, and the Technoparc wetlands near St. Laurent. Poteete has written extensively on decentralization-centralization, the political economic of development, and electoral politics, particularly in Botswana and Senegal. Another strand of writing concerns methodological issues. She is the coauthor, with Marco A. Janssen and Elinor Ostrom, of Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice (Princeton University Press), which has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese. She received the Dudley Seers Memorial Prize for best article in volume 45 of the Journal of Development Studies for her article, “Is Development Path Dependent or Political? A Reinterpretation of Mineral-Dependent Development in Botswana” (April 2009). Other publications include chapters in edited volumes and articles in a variety of journals,including African Affairs, Development and Change, Electoral Studies, the Journal of Development Studies, the Journal of Modern African Studies, and World Development.


PhD (Duke University)

Research interests

Social, political, economic, and ecological interactions; commons and commoning; informal urban green spaces; Montreal; political economy of low and middle income countries; African politics, decentralization

Research affiliations

Social Justice Centre , Concordia University
African Politics Conference Group

"Our only green space is threatened. Let's react & fast. Out RML." Hochelaga, May 2022
Photo credit: A. Poteete
Collaborative consultations, Champs des Possible, 2022
Photo credit: A. Poteete
Absentee voting for Senegalese legislative elections of 2012 in Montreal
Photo credit: A. Poteete

Teaching activities

POLI 327              Comparative Democratization

POLI 366              Politics of Africa

POLI 410              Environmental Policies in the Developing World

POLI 487D            Decentralization and Development

POLI 489/683        Social Research in Urban Green Spaces

POLI 601/844        Research Design
POLI 636/805        Theories of Public Policy and Public Administration
POLI 683/815        Development Policy and Administration

Research activities

“Supporting the Possibilities of Urban Commoning in Montreal’s Champ des Possibles.”

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Partnership Engagement Grant (892-2019-2045). December 2019 – November 2022. [Extended in response to Covid-2019].

Co-applicant: Nik Luka (McGill University). 

Partner organization: Les Amis du Champ des Possibles.

Project page.

Enhancing biodiversity, social inclusion, and climate resilience through informal urban green spaces

Sustainable Transitions Team Research Initiative, Office of Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies, Concordia University, 2022– 2023.

Co-investigators: Emma Despland, Elizabeth (Liz) Miller, Rebecca Tittler, and Carly Ziter, all at Concordia University 

Partners: Les Amis du Champ des Possibles, Mobilisation 6600, Sauvons la Falaise, Technoparc Oiseaux, and UrbaNature Education

See project page


In spaces that officials and investors consider wastelands ripe for new development, urban residents frequently see considerable value. These spaces become entangled with residents’ sense of place and community, offer respite from the heat and bustle of the city, and are perceived as providing habitat and refuges for biodiversity. If mobilization to care for and protect informal urban green places reflects intense social attachments to them, the contributions of these spaces to terrestrial ecosystems and to climate resilience are less obvious. After all, informal green spaces tend to cluster in (former) industrial spaces, along transportation infrastructure, and at the socioeconomic margins of the city. Far from being pristine, the ecosystems in these locations have been deeply and repeatedly fragmented, disturbed, and, often, contaminated. While a growing body of research demonstrates that informal urban green spaces can nonetheless contribute to sustainability (e.g., Albro 2019; Anderson & Minor 2021; Turo et al. 2021), many questions remain unanswered about whether and when they do so in practice. We propose to (1) pilot methods to evaluate the contributions of informal urban green spaces to biodiversity (SDG 15), social inclusion (SDG 11), and climate resilience (SDG13); (2) assess the applicability of these methods across four informal greenspaces in Montreal with diverse socio-ecological characteristics (Falaise St.Jacques, Technoparc, Champ des Possibles, Boisé Vimont); and (3) engage urban residents in collaborative learning and reflection in collaboration with community partners. Our longer term objectives of (1) evaluating the contributions of informal urban green spaces to biodiversity, social inclusion, and climate resilience; (2) analyzing relationships among various ecological, social, and climate buffering traits of these sites; (3) raising awareness of the social as well as ecological values of these spaces; and (4) identifying ways to enhance their contributions to socio-ecological sustainability.

Selected Publications


Poteete, Amy R., Marco Janssen, and Elinor Ostrom. 2010. Working Together: Collective Action and the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Poteete, Amy R. 2019. "Electoral Competition, Clientelism, and Responsiveness to Fishing Communities in Senegal," African Affairs, 118, no. 470 (Jan): 24-48.

Poteete, Amy R. 2012. “Electoral Competition, Factionalism, and Persistent Party Dominance in Botswana,” Journal of Modern African Studies 50, no. 1 (March): 75 – 102. doi: 10.1017/S0022278X11000619

Poteete, Amy R. and Jesse C. Ribot. 2011. “Repertoires of Domination: Decentralization as Process in Botswana and Senegal.” World Development 39, no. 3 (March): 439-449.

Poteete, Amy R. 2009. "Is Development Path Dependent or Political? A Reinterpretation of Mineral-Dependent Development in Botswana," Journal of Development Studies 45, no.4 (April): 544 - 571. Recipient of the Dudley Seers Memorial Prize recognizing the best article published in the Journal during 2009 (Volume 45).

Poteete, Amy R. 2009. "Defining Political Community and Rights to Natural Resources in Botswana," Development and Change 40, no.2 (March): 281 - 305. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-7660.2009.01515.x

Poteete, Amy R. and Elinor Ostrom. 2008. “Fifteen Years of Empirical Research on Collective Action in Natural Resource Management: Struggling to Build Large-N Databases Based on Qualitative Research,” World Development 36, no. 1 (January): 176 - 195.]

Poteete, Amy R. and Elinor Ostrom. 2004. "In Pursuit of Comparable Concepts and Data about Collective Action." Special issue on "Methods for Studying Collective Action in Rural Development," Agricultural Systems 82, no. 3 (December): 215 – 232.

Poteete, Amy R. and Elinor Ostrom. 2004. "Heterogeneity, Group Size and Collective Action: The Role of Institutions in Forest Management," Development and Change 35, no. 3 (June): 437 – 461.

Poteete, Amy R. and David Welch. 2004. "Institutional Development in the Face of Complexity: Constructing Systems for Managing Forest Resources," Human Ecology 32, no. 3 (June): 279 - 311.


Poteete, Amy R. 2019. "The Capacity of Decentralization to Promote Democracy and Development in Africa," In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Poteete, Amy R., Bashi Mothusi,and Daniel Molaodi. 2014. “Decentralization in Botswana: Political and Economic Obstacles to Democratic Decentralization,” pp. 23 – 43 in J. Tyler Dickovick and James Wunsch, eds., Decentralization in Africa: The Paradox of State Strength. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Poteete, Amy R.  2013. “The Absence of Inter-Group Violence in Botswana: An Assessment of the Role of Development Strategies,” pp. 183 – 219 in William Ascher and Natalia Mirovitskaya, eds., Economic Roots of Conflict and Cooperation in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan.

Poteete, Amy R. 2010. “Analyzing the Politics of Natural Resources: From Theories of Property Rights to Institutional Analysis and Beyond,” pp. 57 - 79 in Ismael Vaccaro, Eric Alden Smith, and Shankar Aswani, eds., Environmental Social Sciences: Methods and Research Design. Cambridge,UK: Cambridge University Press.

Participation activities

Conference participation (selected)

Poteete, Amy R., Pavel Kunysz, and Nik Luka.2023. “Is Commoning Compatible with Heterotopia: Reflections from Montreal’s Champ des Possibles.” Presented by Amy Poteete as part of a hybrid panel at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers, 23 – 27 March 2023, Denver, USA.

Emma Despland, Elizabeth Miller, Amy R.Poteete, and Carly Ziter. 2023. “Forgotten Green Spaces of Montreal: The value of Montreal’s unofficial parks.” Panel discussion at the 2023 Sustainability across Disciplines conference, 13 – 17 March 2023, Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre (LSRC), Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

Poteete,Amy R., Nik Luka, Clément Badra, and Valentina Samoylenka. 2021. “Occupying, Caring for, and Commoning Urban Public Space in Montréal’s Champ des Possibles.” International Association for the Study of the Commons 2021 UrbanCommons Virtual Conference, 6 – 8 May 2021. Video:

Poteete, Amy R. 2020. “Urban Commoning. ”Invited participant in a panel discussion on “New Commons” at the Governing the Commons: Thirty Years Later Conference, 2 October 2020. A virtual conference organized by the Ostrom Workshop, Indiana University, USA. Video available online; my contribution begins at 2:51:41: 

Research workshops (selected)

Organizer, moderator, and participant, “Working together for Montreal’s (extra)ordinary green spaces / Travailler ensemble pourles espaces verts (extra)ordinaires de Montréal,” a workshop involving members of the “Enhancing Biodiversity, Social Inclusion, and Climate Resilience through Informal Urban Green Spaces” research team and five community partners, Next Generation Cities Institute, Concordia University, 12 March 2024. 

Membre du comité scientifique, “Les mondes du terrainvague. Usages et résistance,” an interdisciplinary colloquium organized by Estelle Grandbois-Bernard, Joris Maillochon,Simon Marcoux-Piché, and Annabelle Rivard Patoine in collaboration with Stasis- Groupe d’enquête sur le contemporain ; le Centre de recherche Cultures – Arts– Sociétés (CELAT) ; le Groupe de Recherche d’intérêt Public, Université du Québec à Montréal (GRIP – UQAM) ; et Mobilisation 6600, 2 – 3 juin 2023, Boisé Steinberg, Montréal, Canada.

Poteete, Amy, Pavel Kunysz, and NikLuka. 2023. “Commoning, Heterotopia, and Transformation: An Analytical Framework.” Paper presented by Amy Poteete at the “Commons, Commoning, and Social Change” workshop, University of Michigan, USA, 11 – 12 November 2023.

Exhibitions and Events

“Worth Defending: Montreal’s(extra)ordinary green spaces / À defendre : les espaces verts (extra)ordinaires de Montréal,” 4th Space, Concordia University, 27 January 2024. A day-long event exhibiting preliminary research findings from “Enhancing Biodiversity, Social Inclusion, and Climate Resilience through Informal Urban Green Spaces” research team, artifacts from the “Finding Urban Nature” team’s nature education work with summer day camps, and materials from partner organizations. There were also interactive demonstrations and a panel discussion, which can be viewed online:

Amy Poteete. 2024. “Is Wildlife Conservation Sustainable,” TEDxConcordia event “Looking Beyond,” Concordia University, 5 March 2024:

Panelist in a walk/roundtable organized for the opening of “Écotones: Investigations expérimentales et activation de sols contaminés au Champ des Possibles,”organized by Brice Ammar-Khodja and Philippe Vandal in the Champ des Possibles, 14 October 2022. Spoke about social activities in the Champ des Possibles, the site's social significance, and the challenges diverse values pose for cohabitation. For more information:

Luka, Nik, Amy Poteete, Giacomo Valzania, and Karlo Trost. 2022. “Le Champ des Possibles et ses alentours/The Champ des Possible and its milieu.” Promenade de Jane/Jane’s Walk, animation of one walk each in English and French, on 8 May 2022.

Back to top

© Concordia University