Peter Harry Herlihy

Peter Herlihy
  • Professor

Contact Info

Office Phone:
Department Phone:
Malott Hall #1017 and #1019


My research is on tropical rain forest peoples in Latin America, especially Central America and Mexico, with extended field research in the Huasteca, Sierra Juarez, La Mosquitia, Darién and Loreto. My scholarship uses cultural and political ecology with participatory research mapping methodologies for nature conservation and indigenous land rights, and situating indigenous peoples within a globalizing Latin America. My long-standing focus is on how state and transnational institutions impact indigenous resource use and land rights. a. Since 2005, I have led an international project and First Bowman Expedition, called México Indígena (MI), the prototype for the American Geographical Society and US Foreign Military Studies Office concept for "Global Place-based GIS Research.." We retool regional geography and foreign area studies for the digital age, combining participatory research mapping (PRM) with GIS to explore how Mexico's neoliberal land reform program (PROCEDE) converts communal ejido lands to private property. Results have been beneficial for indigenous communities. Our multi-scale GIS database aims at crafting the digital cultural landscape (so-called "human terrain") of indigenous Mexico. The MI team has an ESRI award-winning website (, including novel online SVG inactive GIS results display plus perhaps the first participatory indigenous maps displayed on Google Earth. b. I developed the first participatory research mapping (PRM) methodology in Latin America in 1992, since pioneering its research and applied use in geography, other disciplines and development work, particularly conservations work in Central America (see Human Organization volume, Overview, Case example). Participatory mapping continues to be a keystone activity in our research undertakings, most recently developing what our MI team calls "truly participatory GIS." c. I contribute to baseline studies on the geography of indigenous peoples in Central America and Mexico; in the Panamanian Darién region, maintaining my deep commitment to the Emberá/Wounaan and their comarca homeland; and in the Honduran Mosquitia to the native Miskito, Garífuna, and Pech and their biosphere reserves; and now, we extend this support to Mexico's Nahua communities in the Huasteca Potosina and to the Zapotec communities of the Sierra Juarez in Oaxaca. d. I am interested in state establishment and management of conservation areas and ethnic homeland districts for native peoples, mestizos, and Afro-descendants in Central America, most recently working with the Honduran and German governments establishing the Río Plátano Biosphere (are-definition), the Tawahka Asangni Reserve, and the Patuca National Park in the Mosquitia Protected Areas Corridor, part of the largest area of protected rain forest in Central America today. e. One of my Latin Americanist Geographer assignments is Contributing Editor on Central America for the Handbook of Latin American Studies at the U.S. Library of Congress. I encourage readers to please send me your publications to be considered for inclusion in this significant bibliographic publication (see online HLAS Website,

Research interests:

  • Latin America
  • Central America
  • indigenous peoples, conservation, geography


Teaching interests:

  • Latin America
  • Central America