Elia’s main research interest is the investigation of nature-society relationships in capitalism, with a particular emphasis on the political ecology of nature conservation. Her current research focuses on conservation in relation to the economic value of nonhuman nature and is guided by radical research on the neoliberalization of nature, the historical-geographic conception of neoliberalism, uneven development, and the capitalist production of nature and space, as well as by Marxist political economy—particularly the Marxian theory of value and rent.
Since 2009, she has been conducting research on critical geographies of nature. From 2009 to 2013, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the multidisciplinary EU project SCALES, coordinated by the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research. She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge from 2013 to 2016 and, in 2014, was awarded an Individual Intra-European Marie Curie Post-doctoral Fellowship to conduct interdisciplinary research on the social, economic, cultural, and ecological implications of the application of environmental markets in the UK. Elia was a visiting scholar at the Finnish Environment Institute (2011) and the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at City University of New York (2015). In 2016-2017, she has been a lecturer of human geography in the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University and in 2017 a Carson Fellow in Rachel Carson Center (Munich). Since September 2017, she is a lecturer in the Department of Geography, in the University of Cambridge.