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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 relationsin diverse contexts, ranging from Botswana and Sénégal to Montréal and southernIndiana (USA). As of November 2022, she is wrapping up a SSHRC Partnership EngageGrant with Nik Luka (McGill University) and Les Amis du Champ des Possibles on “ThePossibilities for Urban Commoning in Montréal’s Champ des Possibles,” and launchingcollaborative research with Emma Despland, Elizabeth Miller, Rebecca Tittler,and Carly Ziter (all at Concordia) on “EnhancingBiodiversity, Social Inclusion, and Climate Resilience through Informal Urban GreenSpaces,” with support from Concordia University’s Sustainable Transitions TeamResearch Initiative (STTRI). This pilot project focuses on four sites in Montréal:the Champ des Possibles in Mile End, a complex of sites including Boisé Vimontin Hochelaga, the Falaise St. Jacques in Notre Dame de Grace/Sud-Ouest, and theTechnoparc wetlands near St. Laurent. Poteete has written extensively ondecentralization-centralization, development, and electoral politics, particularlyin Botswana and Senegal. Another strand of writing concerns methodologicalissues. She is the coauthor, with Marco A. Janssen and Elinor Ostrom, of Working Together: Collective Action, theCommons, and Multiple Methods in Practice (Princeton University Press),which has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese. She receivedthe Dudley Seers Memorial Prize for best article in volume 45 of the Journal of Development Studies for herarticle, “Is Development Path Dependent or Political? A Reinterpretation ofMineral-Dependent Development in Botswana” (April 2009). Other publicationsinclude chapters in edited volumes and articles in a variety of journals,including African Affairs, Developmentand Change, Electoral Studies, the Journalof Development Studies, the Journalof Modern African Studies, and WorldDevelopment.


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 (McGillUniversity). 

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.

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