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Holly Brause

Holly Brause
Assistant Professor
Regular Faculty

Contact Info
Breland 303

Expertise: Cultural Anthropology, Anthropology, Environmental Anthropology


Dr. Holly Brause is a cultural anthropologist specializing in environmental anthropology, transboundary water resources, climate change and natural resource management, food and agriculture, and the politics and practices of future-making. Her geographical focuses are the US Southwest, the US/Mexico border, New Mexico, Mexico, and Latin America.

Current Research

My current research is on: the New Mexico chile industry, transboundary aquifers shared across the US/Mexico border, and the future of agriculture and water in southern New Mexico. I began ethnographic research on the New Mexico chile industry in 2014, mainly in southern New Mexico and northern Chihuahua, Mexico. The project examines how producers, processors, and scientists on both sides of the border are looking for ways to remain competitive in a globalized marketplace and secure viable futures for their livelihoods in the face of environmental challenges. This research is the basis of a book project in the works.

My water research began in 2019 working with NMSU’s New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI). I managed NM WRRI’s participation in the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program until 2023, and developed a research project to examine the political, cultural, scientific and economic frameworks that shape the use of binationally shared groundwater resources along US/Mexico border in the absence of legal frameworks to govern its consumption. I also serve as the social science lead on a multi-year, interdisciplinary project titled Strategic Fallowing for Sustainable Water and Thriving Agriculture, funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the Thornburg Foundation. Along with student hires, I collect interview data that will be combined with research efforts in hydrology, GIS, economics, crop science, and modeling to create policy suggestions and a decision-support tool for local agricultural stakeholders, water managers, and policymakers. I incorporated applied and participatory anthropological theory and methods to build a robust stakeholder engagement strategy into the project structure.

Courses in Rotation

  • ANTH 1140G: Intro to Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 301: Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 362: Environmental Anthropology
  • ANTH 415/515: Applied Anthropology