I am currently a PhD candidate in Sociology, with a concentration in political economy.

My key research questions center around the environmental, economic, social, and political crises associated with capitalist and neoliberal economic modernization as it intersects with nations across the global divide. I analyze how rising inequality, environmental degradation, and increasing fragility of the economic system impact the stability of institutions and disproportionately impact people lacking political power.

My dissertation focuses on Moon mining as a response to environmental degradation, constrained resources from the infinite growth imperative, and a quest to maintain hegemonic power in the global political economy. I emphasize the need for global democratic governance and greater inclusiveness for all people to have a voice in the fate of the Moon. My project compares key legal arguments of active interest groups in relation to the Moon towards this goal.


In the spring of 2018, I was awarded the Ingrid H. Rima Scholarship from the Association for Social Economics (ASE) for my paper titled: "Using Polanyi’s The Great Transformation to Understand Crises: Beyond the Regulation School and Social Structures of Accumulation Perspectives". The paper constructs a theoretical framework to approach the crises inherent in the liberalization and deregulation of the economy using Polanyi's concepts of fictitious commodities, asserting that the deregulation of land, labor, and money leads to crises in the corresponding domains of the environment, rising inequality and concentration of wealth, and financialization.

I work as a research assistant with the Center for Fair & Alternative Trade (CFAT) where, for my master's work, I studied the intersection of certification regimes and ethical finance and credit in smallholder agriculture in peripheral nations. We recently relaunched the new and improved Fair Trade Institute website, the world's leading resource for research on fair trade. My interest in Fair Trade centers around the processes through which social movements are institutionalized as "civil society" at the global level in order to correct governance inequalities and the democratic deficit in our global organizations.

Finally, I work as a research assistant for Dr. KuoRay Mao. Our work together centers on the progress of development in China's rural regions with a focus on the process of capitalization and market liberalization within the authoritarian state context. We work to uncover the often hidden processes that harm the most vulnerable populations and their habitats throughout rural China. We draw from green criminology, environmental justice, and political economy in our analysis of the management of water and natural resources and corresponding impacts on rural populations.


Teaching is very important to me, as I really enjoy being in the classroom and working with students as they learn sociology and develop the 'sociological imagination'. I work to create the "conversational classroom" and empower students to take risks in voicing their opinions and thoughts. I work to embed sociological thinking within its philosophical roots, expanding student's understanding of their historical and social positionality. Finally, I work to bridge the gap in understanding between the micro and macro domains, so that students can attain a better understanding of their place in the world, both globally and locally, and why the social, political, and economic structures at the global level appear in their current forms.

I won the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award in Spring of 2020
"Nefratiri has not only been one of my favorite professors in the Sociology department, but one of my favorite in my entire time here at CSU. She is tremendously engaging, I genuinely enjoy learning in her class and hearing what she has to say. She displays information in a way that is easy to understand but also leaves you wanting more. She has ignited a fire within my academic career that has made me strive to learn more and more; something that I have never experienced before." – SOC 301 student 


Peer-Reviewed Journals:

Yongji Xue, KuoRay Mao, Nefratiri Weeks & Jingyi Xiao (2020) Rural Reform in Contemporary China: Development, Efficiency, and Fairness, Journal of Contemporary China, DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2020.1790902

Mao, K., Jin, S., Hu, Y., Weeks, N., & Ye, L. (2020). Environmental Conservation or the Treadmill of Law: A Case Study of the Post-2014 Husbandry Waste Regulations in China. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.

Mao, K., Zhang, Q., Xue, Y., Weeks, N. Toward a socio-political approach to water management: successes and limitations of IWRM programs in rural northwestern China. Front. Earth Sci. 14, 268–285 (2020).

Book Chapters:

Mao, KuoRay, Qian Zhang, and Nefratiri Weeks. 2021 “Authoritarian Environmentalism as Just Transition? A Critical Environmental Justice Examination of State Environmental Intervention in Northwestern China.” in Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene edited by Melinda Laituri and Stacia Ryder. London: Routledge.

Weeks N., Raynolds L.T. (2019) Fair Trade Foods. In: Meiselman H. (eds) Handbook of Eating and Drinking. Springer, Cham

Raynolds, L and N. Weeks. 2019. “Fairtrade Certification in Latin America: Challenges and Prospects for Fostering Development.” Routledge Handbook of Latin American Development.

Master's Thesis:

The Fairtrade Access Fund: Does Linking Ethical Investment with Fairtrade Certification Enhance Credit Outcomes for Small Farmers?

The Fairtrade Access Fund is a new ethical investment fund established to work with smallholder farmer cooperatives certified or becoming certified by Fairtrade International. How does the Fairtrade Access Fund fit in with current financing schemes in the developing world? Does the Fairtrade Access Fund's connection with Fairtrade International certification and ethical finance standards enhance the important positive aspects of credit access for smallholder farmers? Does the connection with Fairtrade Standards mitigate the potential risks inherent in debt finance? My study employs an economic sociology and political economy theoretical framework. It traces the certification requirements of Fairtrade International and analyzes how they intersect with the key institutions of ethical finance in order to answer the main research questions. The research includes information on both investors and recipients of the Fairtrade Access Fund and evaluates whether the fund differs from current forms of finance already available to some smallholder farmers. In sum, my findings indicate that linking ethical finance with Fairtrade certification schemes does enhance credit outcomes for smallholder farmers. Further, Fairtrade certification works as an important mechanism of risk management for ethical lending institutions. [ProQuest Link]

In Progress:

Mao, KuoRay, Nefratiri Weeks, and Qian Zhang. “Environmental Conservation and Primitive Accumulation: The Rise of Environmental Authoritarianism in China” (Paper will be submitted to Theoretical Criminology in August 2020).

Nefratiri Weeks. Manuscript under Preparation. “Using Polanyi’s The Great Transformation to Understand Crises: Beyond the Regulation School and Social Structures of Accumulation Perspectives”

Book Review:

Bendeck S., Greenwood I. D., Kadyan S., Tuttle R., Weeks N., Unnithan N. P. In the Trenches: Teaching and Learning Sociology, by M. P Atkinson and K. S. Lowney. New York. W. W Norton, 2016.

First Generation Story

I am a first generation college graduate from rural Indiana.


  • Sociology Internship Coordinator


    Please Access this “Syllabus” link for a One-Page Guide for more information on the Sociology Internship Program

  • SOC 492: Internship Seminar


    Internship Seminar

  • SOC301-004


    Development of Sociological Thought