Photo of Associate Professor Derek A. Smith

Associate Professor Derek A. Smith

Neotropical rain forest use; Indigenous land tenure; cultural landscapes; local geographic knowledge; participatory mapping

Degrees:B.A. (McGill University), M.A. (Louisiana State University), Ph.D. (University of Kansas)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 8131
Office:B449 Loeb Building


I am a cultural geographer with research interests that revolve around the use, management, and conservation of natural resources and landscapes by Indigenous peoples of Central America and Mexico. Participatory mapping that includes local investigators has been a core element of my research. Closely related interests include Indigenous land tenure, local knowledge, and critical cartography. Current projects focus on (i) Indigenous forest use in Panama and (ii) Mayan understandings of the cultural landscapes of the Yucatan region of Mexico.

2024 – 2025

  • GEOG 6000 Fall – Doctoral Core Seminar: Geography, Society and the Environment

Selected Publications

Smith, Derek A. and Miguel Sioui, 2022. The evolving relationship between Maya communities and subterranean waters in the Yucatan Peninsula. Chapter 6 in Indigenous Water and Drought Management in a Changing World, edited by M. Sioui, pp. 109-125. New York: Elsevier.

Smith, Derek A., Alicia Ibáñez, and Francisco Herrera (2017) The importance of context: Assessing the benefits and limitations of participatory mapping for empowering Indigenous communities in the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé, Panama. Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization, 52(1): 49-62.

Smith, Derek A. Margaret B. Holland, Alicia Ibáñez, and Francisco Herrera (2017) The hidden layer of Indigenous land tenure: Informal forest ownership and its implications for forest use and conservation in Panama’s largest collective territory. International Forestry Review, 19(4): 478-494.

Smith, Derek, Maureen Woodrow, and Kelly Vodden, 2016. A boat perspective: Local geographic knowledge of fish harvesters in Change Islands, Newfoundland. Journal of Cultural Geography, 33(1): 1-26.

Smith, Jenna, Derek Smith, and Miguel Sioui, 2016. Nature, cities, people: An exploration of Aboriginal Perspectives. The Canadian Geographer 2016, 60(1): 3-8.

Smith, Derek A., Kelly Vodden, Maureen Woodrow, Ahmed Khan, and Bojan Fürst, 2014. The Last Generation? Perspectives of Inshore Fish Harvesters from Change Islands, Newfoundland. Canadian Geographer 58(1): 95-109.

Smith, Derek A., Peter H. Herlihy, Aida Ramos Viera, John H. Kelly, Andrew M. Hilburn, Miguel Aguilar Robledo, and Jerome E. Dobson, 2012. Using Participatory Research Mapping and GIS to Explore Local Geographic Knowledge of Indigenous Landscapes in Mexico. FOCUS on Geography 55(4): 119-124.

Dunn, Marc Andre, Nereyda Estrada and Derek A. Smith, 2012. The Coexistence of Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) and Indigenous Hunters in Northeastern Honduras. Integrative Zoology 7: 429-438.

Dunn, Marc Andre and Derek A. Smith, 2011. The Spatial Patterns of Miskitu Hunting in North-eastern Honduras: Lessons for Wildlife Management in Tropical Forests. Journal of Latin American Geography 10(1): 85-108.