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Anthropology Environmental Anthropology
by
Tracey Heatherington

Introduction

Environmental anthropology deals broadly with culture and environment. Early anthropologists were interested in human relations with the environment as factors in cultural development. With the rise of environmental movements and ecological paradigms during the 20th century, anthropologists, too, adopted new perspectives. The growing acknowledgment of urgent environmental problems and resource governance issues has supported a burst of expansion in the field since the 1990s. Environmental anthropology currently subsumes a considerable range of theoretical approaches and themes. In Europe and Australia, for example, the field is often more strongly affiliated with the humanistic disciplines, while in North America it is frequently allied with the sciences. Much of the work done in environmental anthropology today takes a problem-centered approach that assumes various interdisciplinary engagements, and it is not meant to be taken in isolation. This field of specialization can, however, be generally distinguished from cognate fields such as environmental sociology, environmental history, and environmental archaeology by its general emphasis on insights derived from ethnographic traditions, methods, and perspectives. Above all, environmental anthropology is premised upon the recognition of important cross-cultural differences in the ways that people perceive, use, and care for the world around them.

Readers and Textbooks

Several excellent textbooks and readers in environmental anthropology have now appeared, establishing a basic survey of the field. Textbooks written in English have been published by presses in Britain and the United States, tending to privilege perspectives on the field from the scholars based in these countries. All of them reference some key foundational concepts from cultural ecology and ecological anthropology, but they vary in the degree to which this is explored, and also in the extent to which other theoretical approaches and various thematic issues are represented. Townsend 2000 is the most accessible and short introductory work, offering a succinct outline of developments in the field. Both Sutton and Anderson 2010 and Moran 2006 are comprehensive introductory textbooks in ecological anthropology, while Bodley 2008 is an introductory-level textbook in cultural anthropology that takes environment and development issues to be central. Milton 1996 and Bodley 2008 both explicitly relate environmental anthropology to interests in globalization; Milton’s work is adapted to more-advanced undergraduates and graduates. Also suitable for advanced undergraduates are Haenn and Wilk 2006, which is a collection of articles articulating an anthropological approach to ecological sustainability, and Dove and Carpenter 2008, which consists of a set of essays illustrating the historical development of environmental anthropology as a field.

  • Bodley, John H. 2008. Anthropology and contemporary human problems. 5th ed. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.

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    An introductory textbook that explores ecological destruction and environmental crisis in relation to ethnocide, genocide, food systems, population growth, consumption, poverty, indigenous cultures, and the author’s own understanding of “problems of scale.” Suitable for beginning undergraduates.

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  • Dove, Michael R., and Carole Carpenter, eds. 2008. Environmental anthropology: An historical reader. Oxford: Blackwell.

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    A compendium of essays written by leading scholars, organized with introductions to present the development of debates and dialogues between them. A very rich source of intellectual history, suitable for advanced undergraduates.

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  • Haenn, Nora, and Richard Wilk, eds. 2006. The environment in anthropology: A reader in culture, ecology and sustainable living. New York and London: New York Univ. Press.

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    A compendium of essays summarizing intellectual foundations and presenting a very engaging selection of key contemporary issues. Includes excellent attention to gender. Suitable for advanced undergraduates.

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  • Milton, Kay. 1996. Environmentalism and cultural theory: Exploring the role of anthropology in environmental discourse. London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203205440Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the first anthropological texts to explore theories of globalization, culture, and environment. Still worth reading. Rooted in British social anthropology and discourse theory, the book explores the concept of culture in relation to ecology in an effort to better understand the implications of cultural diversity for environmentalism. Suitable for advanced undergraduates.

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  • Moran, Emilio F. 2006. People and nature: An introduction to human ecological relations. Blackwell Primers in Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell.

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    A textbook that engages seriously with natural-science approaches to suggest how both archaeology and sociocultural anthropology can contribute to understanding ecological relationships. The author is noted for his work in ecosystem theory. Suitable for beginning undergraduates and particularly useful for interdisciplinary courses.

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  • Sutton, Mark Q., and E. N. Anderson. 2010. Introduction to cultural ecology. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.

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    A textbook providing a comprehensive technical introduction to foundational concepts in ecological anthropology. The result of collaboration between two senior scholars representing biological and sociocultural anthropology. It seeks to distinguish cultural ecology from human biological ecology, within an explicitly scientific framework. Suitable for beginning undergraduates.

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  • Townsend, Patricia. 2000. Environmental anthropology: From pigs to policies. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland.

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    A straightforward, short introduction to the history of environmental anthropology in the 20th century. Organized to highlight case studies and global perspectives, it briefly reviews cultural ecology, ethnoecology, the ecosystem concept, and theories of human–animal relations. It provides a lively sampling of contemporary issues. Very readable and suitable for beginning undergraduates.

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Bibliographic Essays and Reference Works

The citations in this section include a series of bibliographic essays that mark ground points in the intellectual development of environmental anthropology. Vayda and McCay 1975 illustrates a bridge between cultural ecology and studies of institutions and systems of ownership, and it can be compared to later formulations. Little 1999; Brosius 1999; Biersack 1999; and Mulcock, et al. 2005 attempt to survey a surge of output in the field, including approaches related to political ecology. Kottak 1999 and Sponsel 2005 outline the distinctive vision of ecological anthropology. Kirksey and Helmreich 2010 exemplifies how contemporary concerns about environmental issues have begun to frame and guide new directions in cultural anthropological research, increasingly distinct from paradigms in ecological anthropology.

Anthologies

With the explosion of work in the field, anthologies of environmental anthropology are too many to provide an exhaustive list. The selections in this section represent a range of anthologies that have helped to crystallize the field during the 20-year period since 1990. Croll and Parkin 1992, Milton 1993, and Descola and Palsson 1996 represent three of the earliest European collections to frame an emerging environmental anthropology. Zerner 2000 as well as Greenough and Tsing 2003 illustrates the growing importance of environmental-justice approaches linked to the evolution of social-justice movements and associated scholarly literature centered in the United States. Crumley 2001 illustrates a variety of emerging approaches adopted by leading scholars in environmental anthropology. Carrier 2004 offers timely case studies in political ecology.

  • Carrier, James G., ed. 2004. Confronting environments: Local understanding in a globalizing world. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.

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    An intriguing collection of case studies that blends social and cultural analysis with political ecology to explore the complex factors affecting people’s understanding of their environments.

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  • Croll, Elizabeth, and David Parkin, eds. 1992. Bush base, forest farm: Culture, environment and development. London and New York: Routledge.

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    A collection of work mainly by European anthropologists, exploring various case studies in ecological anthropology.

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  • Crumley, Carole, ed. 2001. New directions in anthropology and environment: Intersections. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.

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    An outstanding collection of essays defining various approaches to environmental anthropology, including language and environment, cognitive studies, political ecology, historical ecology, religious studies, urban studies, environmental justice, and environmental movements.

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  • Descola, Philippe, and Gislì Palsson, ed. 1996. Nature and society: Anthropological perspectives. New York and London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203451069Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of essays interrogating the nature-versus-culture dichotomy, featuring European scholars in particular. Published in association with the European Association of Social Anthropologists.

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  • Greenough, Paul, and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, eds. 2003. Nature in the global South: Environmental projects in South and Southeast Asia. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    A notable collection of essays by leading scholars, who collectively problematize and go beyond discourse-centered approaches to environmental anthropology. Adopting a critical perspective on the historical context of regional studies in which they participate, the contributors draw on approaches from historical and political ecology.

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  • Milton, Kay, ed. 1993. Environmentalism: The view from anthropology. Association of Social Anthropologists Monographs 32. London and New York: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203449653Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The first collection to explore and problematize environmental movements and discourses from an anthropological perspective.

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  • Zerner, Charles, ed. 2000. People, plants and justice: The politics of nature conservation. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    An important transdisciplinary volume that reconsiders key concepts such as community, property, markets, and indigenous peoples in relation to ecodevelopment across the global South.

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Contemporary Monograph Series

Given the timeliness of global environmental concerns in relation both to socioeconomic transformations and indigenous peoples, many new ethnographic books are emerging in environmental anthropology. Many of these are published under the guise of regional or thematic studies, interdisciplinary environmental studies, or the ethnographic series of major university presses. In the United States, specialized monograph series in environmental anthropology are published by the University of Arizona Press (Arizona Studies in Human Ecology), the University of Washington Press (Culture, Place and Nature), Duke University Press (New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century), and Left Coast Press (New Frontiers in Historical Ecology. In Britain, Berghahn (Studies in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology) and Routledge (Studies in Environmental Anthropology) both support notable book series in environmental anthropology. In India, Permanent Black also produces a specialized series on Nature, Culture, Conservation, often collaborating with another publishing house, such as the University of California Press, to circulate the work abroad. Of particular note are monographs in environmental anthropology recognized by the Julian Steward Book Prize, awarded annually by the Anthropology and Environment Section of the American Anthropological Association (cited under Organizations).

Journals

A large number of essays and papers related to environmental anthropology are published in a range of major anthropology journals and interdisciplinary journals rather than in specialized journals. A selection of peer-reviewed journals in which environmental anthropology is most prominently featured are listed in this section. Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal is the longest-established traditional journal format specialized in environmental anthropology. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) and Environment and Society: Advances in Research are also conventional academic journals that reflect the recent expansion of interest in this field.Open-access, online journals related to environmental anthropology include Conservation and Society, ,Ecological and Environmental Anthropology, Journal of Ecological Anthropology, and Journal of Political Ecology: Case Studies in History and Society.

Organizations

The Society for Applied Anthropology is a major organization of practicing anthropologists, including a significant number of environmental anthropologists. The Anthropology and Environment Section, American Anthropological Association gathers a large number of environmental anthropologists from the United States and many other parts of the world. The Europeanist Network for Environmental Anthropology is an informal research network jointly sponsored by the Anthropology and Environment Section and the Society of the Anthropology of Europe, both sections of the American Anthropological Association; the network also includes international scholars who do not belong to that national organization. With the exception of the American Anthropological Association, most professional organizations of anthropologists (such as the Royal Anthropological Institute, the European Association for Social Anthropologists, or the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences) do not have thematic sections, and so environmental anthropology is subsumed within the interests of a broader membership. Environmental anthropologists also participate in the full range of sections and interest groups of the American Anthropological Association. Given their varied collaborations, environmental anthropologists are well represented across many different disciplinary and interdisciplinary organizations, such as the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences(AESS), the Political Ecology Society, the International Association for the Study of the Commons, and the International Society for the Study of Religion and Nature.

Approaches

The work of many environmental anthropologists is devoted to empirical descriptions and theoretical debates shared across academic efforts in sociocultural anthropology. Research and collaboration in environmental anthropology may also bridge across different subfields of anthropology as well as different social sciences, the natural sciences, or the humanities. Particular patterns of interdisciplinary engagement can mark specific orientations to data collection and interpretation, such as preferences for certain kinds of qualitative and quantitative analyses. There are some evident divergences in epistemological paradigms and models of writing and representation that broadly match tensions spanning the whole of anthropology. The basic approaches outlined in the sections that follow—Cultural Ecology and Ecological Anthropology, Institutions and Ecology, Historical Ecology, Political Ecology, Applied Anthropology, and Cognate Fields—should be considered as a spectrum of emergent clusters of debate and interest, rather than mutually exclusive categories.

Cultural Ecology and Ecological Anthropology

Contemporary approaches to culture and environment in anthropology can be traced back to foundational debates in cultural ecology during the 20th century. The pioneering work of Julian Steward (Steward 1955), Roy Rappaport (Rappaport 2000), Andrew Vayda (see Walters, et al. 2008), and Robert Netting (Netting 1981, cited under Institutions and Ecology; Netting 1986) is widely cited, while authors such as Tim Ingold (Ingold 1986), Philippe Descola (Descola 1994), Gene Anderson (Anderson 1996), and Roy Ellen (Ellen 2006, under Cognate Fields) helped to develop the field. In the early 21st century, the “ecological anthropology” approach supersedes the earlier formulation of “cultural ecology.” Some anthropologists working in this tradition prefer to use the more general gloss of “environmental anthropology,” but they usually insist upon an explicitly scientific approach to the subject matter. Such scholarship has often been adapted for projects of applied anthropology, in which appeals to objective knowledge effectively resonate with policy discourses. This branch of environmental anthropology tends to reject the relevance of late-20th-century critiques in cultural anthropology, postcolonial studies, and science studies that have emphasized reflexive attention to the process of knowledge construction as an element of ongoing power relationships. Dove 2006 explores a history-of-science view of ecological anthropology.

  • Anderson, E. N. 1996. Ecologies of the heart: Emotion, belief and the environment. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A mature and compelling synthesis of the ecological anthropology paradigm, understood as a scientific endeavor.

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  • Descola, Philippe. 1994. In the society of nature: A native ecology in Amazonia. Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Applies European traditions in symbolic anthropology to interrogate conceptions of nature versus culture in comparative perspective. Some elements of post-structuralism are already embedded here, defining greater affinity for the political-ecology approaches that later emerged. Originally published in French in 1986.

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  • Dove, Michael R. 2006. Equilibrium theory and interdisciplinary borrowing: A comparison of old and new ecological anthropologies. In Reimagining political ecology. Edited by Aletta Biersack and James B. Greenberg, 43–69. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    A lucid reflection upon the impact of larger institutional and historical contexts upon the development and success of particular ideas in ecological anthropology. Useful as a critical perspective on the field.

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  • Ingold, Tim. 1986. The appropriation of nature: Essays on human ecology and social relations. Iowa City: Univ. of Iowa Press.

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    Collects essays surveying the anthropological literature on hunting and gathering to assert a materialist approach to human ecology.

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  • Netting, Robert. 1986. Cultural ecology. 2d ed. New York: Waveland.

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    Originally published in 1976, this short book articulates a strong methodological program for cultural ecology, with a materialist focus. This textbook had an important impact in defining the field.

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  • Rappaport, Roy A. 2000. Pigs for the ancestors: Ritual in the ecology of a New Guinea people. 2d ed. New York: Waveland.

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    A classic monograph in the structural-functionalist tradition, originally published in 1968, that highlights the relationships between religious belief and ritual, economy, and ecology in Papua New Guinea. One of the first applications of ecosystem theory in anthropology.

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  • Steward, Julian H. 1955. The concept and method of cultural ecology. In Theory of culture change: The methodology of multilinear evolution. By Julian H. Steward, 30–42. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

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    Established the framework for intellectual debates to come, defining the field of cultural ecology with a strongly materialist perspective.

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  • Walters, Bradley B., Bonnie J. McCay, Paige West, and Susan Lees, eds. 2008. Against the grain: The Vayda tradition in human ecology and ecological anthropology. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.

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    Introduction to the foundational work of Andrew Vayda, with a series of essay commentaries.

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Institutions and Ecology

Anthropological studies of institutions and ecology have been particularly important with regard to understanding systems of land tenure, such as common property systems, and the ability of different institutional forms to enable effective management both of resources and risks. These studies bring cross-cultural and ethnographic perspectives to bear on economic and institutional theory; they can incorporate aspects of legal or political anthropology. They typically overlap with ecological anthropology approaches and/or historical approaches. They share a strong affinity for projects in applied anthropology. Netting 1981 represents a European case study that grounded subsequent anthropological critiques of the tragedy of the commons hypothesis, including McCay and Acheson 1987 and Feeny, et al. 1990, as well as more-recent contributions such as McCay and Jentoft 1998, Acheson 2006, and Bardhan and Ray 2008. The extended case study of boreholes and livestock management in Botswana in Peters 1994 illustrates the particular value of this debate for questions of sustainable development.

  • Acheson, James M. 2006. Institutional failure in resource management. Annual Review of Anthropology 35:117–134.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123238Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A bibliographic essay assessing advances in anthropological approaches to the commons and models of institutional resource management.

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  • Bardhan, Pranab, and Isha Ray, eds. 2008. The contested commons: Conversations between economists and anthropologists. Oxford: Blackwell.

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    A multidisciplinary volume of essays from senior scholars across economics, sociology, political science, and anthropology. It follows debates about environmental-resource management, with particular focus on the developing world.

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  • Feeny, David, Fikret Berkes, Bonnie J. McCay, and James M. Acheson. 1990. The tragedy of the commons: Twenty-two years later. Human Ecology 18:1–19.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00889070Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A landmark article summarizing empirical data from anthropology to rebut Garrett Hardin’s thesis about the “tragedy of the commons.”

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  • McCay, Bonnie J., and James Acheson, eds. 1987. The question of the commons: The culture and ecology of communal resources. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press.

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    An important collection of essays testing the famous hypothesis of “the tragedy of the commons” in cross-cultural perspective. It demonstrates the complex ways that communities organize and employ cultural knowledge about the environment to collectively manage their resources.

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  • McCay, Bonnie J., and Svein Jentoft. 1998. Market or community failure? Critical perspectives on common property research. Human Organization 57:21–29.

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    An article challenging the explanatory weakness of revised “tragedy of the commons” resource management models that fail to take empirical contexts into account. Emphasizes the value of ethnographic data in analyzing the root causes of environmental problems.

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  • Netting, Robert McC. 1981. Balancing on an Alp: Ecological change and continuity in a Swiss mountain community. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    A classic ethnography that weaves cultural ecology together with attention to historical systems of land tenure.

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  • Peters, Pauline E. 1994. Dividing the commons: Politics, policy and culture in Botswana. Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press.

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    An exemplary case study of institutional change and environmental management in the context of development initiatives.

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Historical Ecology

Approaches in historical ecology are closely related to ecological anthropology and institutional studies. They emphasize study of cultural change and continuity, institutional development, and systems of land use over extended time frames and areas. Historical ecology shares productive overlaps with environmental history, ethnohistory, landscape ecology, and environmental archaeology, in addition to cultural anthropology. It is often applied to the study of agricultural practices. Proponents of historical ecology as a distinctive synthesis of contemporary environmental anthropology look back to Eric Wolf’s (Wolf 1972, Wolf 1999) vision of an ecological anthropology that includes attention both to history and politics. They are critical of ecosystem theories that emphasize equilibrium and homeostasis, instead looking to the historical evolution of landscapes and regions. Crumley 1994, Headland 1997, and the works of William Balée (Balée 1998, Balée 2006) draw together a distinctive contemporary approach, interweaving some aspects of political ecology. Sivaramakrishnan 1999 and Cruikshank 2005 represent useful case studies exploring ways to apply this approach.

  • Balée, William. 2006. The research program of historical ecology. Annual Review of Anthropology 35:75–98.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123231Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A bibliographic essay assessing the state of the field and reasserting a programmatic vision.

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  • Balée, William L., ed. 1998. Advances in historical ecology. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    This volume unites an important group of essays authored by leading scholars, consolidating a distinctive vision for the field.

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  • Cruikshank, Julie. 2005. Do glaciers listen? Local knowledge, colonial encounters and the social imagination. Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press.

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    An ethnohistorical account of encounters between differing perspectives on nature and environment in the borderlands of Alaska, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories, written by a senior scholar known for her extensive work with Native Americans. This monograph was awarded the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing in 2006.

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  • Crumley, Carole L., ed. 1994. Historical ecology: Cultural knowledge and changing landscapes. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

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    The first anthropological volume to clearly establish the interest area of “historical ecology.”

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  • Headland, Thomas N. 1997. Revisionism in ecological anthropology. Current Anthropology 38.4: 605–630.

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    Thoughtfully summarizes the critique of neofunctionalism and romanticism in early cultural ecology and argues that “historical ecology” is what many ecological anthropologists have in fact been doing since the 1980s.

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  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. 1999. Modern forests: State making and environmental change in colonial eastern India. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    An institutional and cultural history of forestry in eastern India, analyzing the social and biophysical factors that shaped the changing colonial landscape.

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  • Wolf, Eric. 1972. Ownership and political ecology. Anthropological Quarterly 45.3: 201–205.

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    Contributed as a commentary on a set of articles pertaining to land-use systems in the European Alps, this article establishes a point of intersection among cultural ecology, institutional ecology, and historical approaches. It constitutes an early formulation of the idea of political ecology within the anthropological tradition.

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  • Wolf, Eric. 1999. Cognizing “cognized models.” American Anthropologist 101.1: 19–72.

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    In this essay, the senior scholar returns to a theme he engaged twenty-seven years earlier in his article cited above. Here, he examines the legacy of Roy Rappaport and argues that Rappaport’s vision of a holistic ecology can be achieved only by exploring the political and historical dimensions of ecology.

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Political Ecology

Political-ecology approaches are derived from a synthesis of intellectual traditions in political economy and environmental studies, particularly well rooted in American anthropology. Political ecology brings the study of power, inequality, and large-scale economic systems to bear on questions of environmental management in cross-cultural perspective. There is a strong affinity for questions related to social or historical constructions of race and nature, feminist and postcolonial critiques, and the cultural politics of identity, as seen in Conklin and Graham 1995 as well as Brosius 1997. Drawing in particular on evolving traditions in science studies and cultural geography, many scholars in this field are engaged with post-structuralist theories, as well as critiques of globalization and neoliberal economic processes; Escobar 1999 and Latour 2004 offer examples of this. Vayda and Walters 1999 offers a polemic perspective on deconstructivist projects in political ecology, situated within a tradition of ecological anthropology. Paulson and Gezon 2005 respond to this critique with theoretical discussion and a range of grounded case studies, expanded and developed from a special themed issue of Human Organization in 2003. Biersack and Greenberg 2006 contributes another response to such critique, bringing together many leading scholars working within the political-ecology paradigm. Goldman, et al. 2011 pushes the boundaries of political ecology further by exploring its interface with science studies. These volumes and others (see in particular Greenough and Tsing 2003 and Zerner 2000, cited under Anthologies) illustrate that anthropologists working in interdisciplinary studies of political ecology in the early 21st century are deeply concerned with the analysis of distributive justice related to the ability to benefit from natural resources and landscapes, as well as the distributive burdens associated with environmental risks and their mitigation.

  • Biersack, Aletta, and James B. Greenberg, eds. 2006. Reimagining political ecology. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    A distinguished collection of essays by leading proponents of this approach. Biersack’s lucid introduction situates the field of political ecology in relation to theories of underdevelopment, ecosystem theory, concepts of nature, and concepts of place in the context of global processes.

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  • Brosius, Peter J. 1997. Prior transcripts, divergent paths: Resistance and acquiescence to logging in Sarawak, East Malaysia. Comparative Studies in Society and History 39.3: 468–510.

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    A noteworthy account of the contradictory roles of two groups of Penan hunter-gatherers in the resistance against logging in central Borneo during the late 1980s.

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  • Conklin, Beth A., and Laura R. Graham. 1995. The shifting middle ground: Amazonian Indians and eco-politics. American Anthropologist 97.4: 695–710.

    DOI: 10.1525/aa.1995.97.4.02a00120Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A landmark essay establishing a critical approach to the cultural politics embedded in environmental campaigns, based on case studies from Brazil.

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  • Escobar, Arturo. 1999. After nature: Steps to an anti-essentialist political ecology. Current Anthropology 40.1: 1–30.

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    Drawing on Foucauldian traditions and science studies in addition to anthropology, the author in this provocative and important essay acknowledges the constructedness of ideas about “nature” and examines the processes that produce interrelated regimes of organic, capitalist, and techno-nature.

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  • Goldman, Mara J., Paul Nadasdy, and Matthew D. Turner. 2011. Knowing nature: Conversations at the intersection of political ecology and science studies. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    A transdisciplinary volume that explores why perspectives in science studies are valuable to the practical understanding of environmental science in action. Case studies explore the production, circulation, application, and transformation of scientific expertise embedded in particular sociocultural, political, and economic contexts.

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  • Latour, Bruno. 2004. Politics of nature: How to bring the sciences into democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Latour brings further evidence of the “science wars” into environmental anthropology. His use of “political ecology” as a blend of “politics” and “ecology” based on an anti-essentialist vision of “nature” is idiosyncratic but deliberately provocative.

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  • Paulson, Susan, and Lisa L. Gezon, eds. 2005. Political ecology across spaces, scales and social groups. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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    An important collection of papers responding to critical works such as Vayda and Walters 1999. The authors argue that a more explicit conceptualization of power and politics suggests practical advantages for research into environmental change and conflicts and for our ability to resolve problems of resource degradation and social marginalization.

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  • Vayda, Andrew P., and Bradley B. Walters. 1999. Against political ecology. Human Ecology 21.1: 167–179.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1018713502547Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors perceive that efforts in political ecology fail to contribute to the understanding of human ecologies themselves. They argue that since these studies are not concerned deeply enough with the material world of the ecological sciences, they should simply be labeled political anthropology or political science.

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Applied Anthropology

A substantial cohort of environmental anthropologists undertake applied work directed, for example, to policymaking, policy assessment, program planning, community advocacy, or international development. Applied environmental anthropologists may act, for example, as paid consultants, expert witnesses, academic research collaborators, volunteers, or employees of governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Some of the applied work in environmental anthropology relates to studies of “traditional ecological knowledge,” or TEK, and is focused on promoting positive collaborations between indigenous communities and the agencies, experts, and organizations responsible for environmental management. Nazarea 1998; Posey 2002; Blaser, et al. 2004; Menzies 2006; and Smith and Ward 2008 provide useful examples. A commitment to advocacy is strongly highlighted in Fortun 2001 and Johnston and Barker 2008, related to environmental health and justice; it is also evident to some degree in all the other references cited below. Given important ongoing dialogues among theory, practice, activism, and engaged scholarship in environmental anthropology, the category of “applied” approaches should not necessarily be taken as separate. There are, however, transcendent concerns both with strategic practices and ethics involved in applications of anthropology, discussed in Haenn and Casagrande 2007.

  • Blaser, Mario, Harvey A. Feit, and Glenn McRae, eds. 2004. In the way of development: Indigenous peoples, life projects and globalization. Ottawa, ON: International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

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    A collection of case studies, mainly from the Americas, examining the complex relationships among indigenous peoples, civil society, and the environment in the context of development initiatives. Includes articles by indigenous leaders as well as anthropologists. Open source.

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  • Fortun, Kim. 2001. Advocacy after Bhopal: Environmentalism, disaster, new global orders. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    An outstanding example of anthropological advocacy in collaboration with a local nongovernmental organization. Documents a campaign to recognize corporate liability for the long-term public-health outcomes of a 1984 chemical accident at a plant owned by an Indian subsidiary of the Union Carbide Corporation.

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  • Haenn, Nora, and David G. Casagrande. 2007. Citizens, experts and anthropologists: Finding paths in environmental policy. Human Organization 66.2: 99–102.

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    The introduction to a special section of the journal published by the Society for Applied Anthropology.

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  • Johnston, Barbara Rose, and Holly M. Barker. 2008. The consequential damages of nuclear war: The Rongelap Report. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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    A public document submitted to the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, providing expert anthropological assessment of the long-term impacts of the hydrogen test bomb dropped on the Marshall Islands in 1954. A powerful work of applied anthropology, valuable in the classroom and for the general reader.

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  • Menzies, Charles R., ed. 2006. Traditional ecological knowledge and natural resource management. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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    An insightful collection of articles edited by a Tsimshian environmental anthropologist. Features a number of case studies, especially from the west coast of Canada and the United States, examining how traditional ecological knowledge is taught and practiced in native communities today, and evaluating ways to articulate it with scientific resource management.

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  • Nazarea, Virginia D. 1998. Cultural memory and biodiversity. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press.

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    An intriguing example of documenting local knowledge about cultivars and agricultural practices as a “memory bank” counterpart to germplasm banking in the Philippines.

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  • Posey, Darrell A. 2002. Kayapó ethnoecology and culture. Edited by Kristina Plenderleith. London and New York: Routledge.

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    A posthumous collection of Darrell Posey’s writings related to applied anthropology and indigenous knowledge in the Brazilian Amazon.

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  • Smyth, Dermott, and Graeme K. Ward, eds. 2008. Protecting country: Indigenous governance and management of protected areas. Canberra, Australia: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). Electronic Resource.

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    One among a number of papers collected from a workshop on Indigenous Governance and Management of Protected Areas held in Canberra in 2007, bringing together indigenous land managers, parks managers, students, and researchers.

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Cognate Fields

Environmental anthropologists engage or participate in many cognate fields and emergent specializations. Full exploration of these intellectual domains exceeds the scope of this article, but a selection of relevant overviews are included in this section, and some examples are provided in thematic sections. Ongoing debates in environmental archaeology, landscape archaeology, and archaeozoology are illustrated in Redman, et al. 2004 and Branch, et al. 2005. Ethnoscience and biocultural approaches are exemplified in Nazarea 1999 and Ellen 2006. A linguistic approach to culture and environment is shown in Maffi and Woodley 2010. Petryna 2002 and Whiteford and Whiteford 2005 illustrate some of the important work emerging in medical anthropology and environmental health.

  • Branch, Nick, Matthew G. Canti, Peter R. Clark, and Chris S. M. Turney. 2005. Environmental archaeology: Theoretical and practical approaches. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A textbook that explores scientific methodologies such as geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany, and geochronology, used to understand human-environment interactions in the past.

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  • Ellen, Roy. 2006. Introduction to ethnobiology and humankind. Special Issue: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 1:1–22.

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    Introduces a collection of articles exploring ethnobiological approaches spanning biological, archaeo-historical, and sociocultural anthropology.

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  • Maffi, Luisa, and Ellen Woodley, eds. 2010. Biocultural diversity conservation: A global sourcebook. London and Washington, DC: Earthscan.

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    An extraordinary sourcebook of case studies, asserting an inherent link between linguistic and cultural diversity and the conservation of biological diversity.

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  • Nazarea, Virginia D., ed. 1999. Ethnoecology: Situated knowledge/local lives. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press.

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    A multidisciplinary volume that retools the mid-20th-century “ethnoscience” paradigm as a way of studying local knowledge of the environment, responding to theoretical critiques and current contexts.

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  • Petryna, Adriana. 2002. Life exposed: Biological citizens after Chernobyl. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    An ethnography of state institutions, clinics, laboratories, and affected families and workers in the former Soviet Ukraine, which chronicles the aftermath of the 1986 nuclear accident. Winner of book awards from the American Ethnological Society and the Society for Medical Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association.

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  • Redman, Charles L., Steven R. James, Paul R. Fish, and J. Daniel Rogers, eds. 2004. The archaeology of global change: The impact of humans on their environment. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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    Case studies in environmental archaeology, covering a range of topics related to anthropogenic impacts, including extinctions, resource depression, agriculture, and climate change.

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  • Whiteford, Linda, and Scott Whiteford, eds. 2005. Globalization, water and health: Resource management in times of scarcity. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

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    A collection of work bridging medical and ecological anthropology, challenging assumptions about the management, commodification, and conceptual understanding of water as it affects human health.

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Themes

Although many of the themes treated by environmental anthropologists are linked to relevant regional debates, there are also themes of “global” significance. These thematic debates are increasingly integrated with transdisciplinary engagements. The references included here are those that best highlight or illustrate the particular visions of environmental anthropology but may also feature some collaborations across cognate fields.

Agricultural Systems

The study of agricultural systems, food, and culture is increasingly tied to interests in environmental sustainability and food security. Netting 1974 provides a foundation point from which to consider how anthropological studies of food and agriculture have evolved alongside studies of ecology and environment. Netting’s own studies of farming communities blended agrarian studies as well as cultural or institutional ecology. Cleveland 1998 takes its reference point from Netting 1981, cited under Institutions and Ecology, considering models for global sustainability. Mehta 1996 and Caldwell 2010 present valuable case studies; see also Gupta 1998 (cited under Governance, States, and Globalization). Three surveys of the literature are also included in this section, reflecting particular interests in food security (Baro and Deubel 2006), agrobiodiversity (Veteto and Skarbø 2009), and archaeological perspectives (Denham, et al. 2007). Also of interest is the work of Stephen Brush and others at the interface of agricultural systems and biodiversity conservation (see, for example, Orlove and Brush 1996, cited under Conservation).

  • Baro, Mamadou, and Tara F. Deubel. 2006. Persistent hunger: Perspectives on vulnerability, famine and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Annual Review of Anthropology 35:521–538.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123224Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A valuable bibliographic essay outlining the anthropology of hunger and food security in an African perspective.

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  • Caldwell, Melissa. 2010. Dacha idylls: Living organically in Russia’s countryside. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A wonderful ethnographic book that explores deeply personal interconnections between urban life and subsistence activities associated with ongoing rural cottage visits for residents of Moscow.

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  • Cleveland, David A. 1998. Balancing on a planet: Toward an agricultural anthropology for the twenty-first century. Human Ecology 26.2: 323–340.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1018775008772Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes Robert Netting’s legacy in terms of understanding agricultural carrying capacity, local knowledge, and global dimensions of sustainability, using perspectives from Africa. Adopts an ecological anthropology approach.

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  • Denham, Timothy P., José Iriarte, and Luc Vrydaghs, eds. 2007. Rethinking agriculture: Archaeological and ethnoarchaeological perspectives. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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    A volume that highlights new research on early agricultural systems in less studied regions outside of Eurasia, revising regional chronologies, conceptual frameworks, and methodological approaches to study the evolution of agriculture in global comparative context.

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  • Mehta, Manjari. 1996. “Our lives are no different from that of our buffaloes”: Agricultural change and gendered spaces in a central Himalayan valley. In Feminist political ecology: Global issues and local experiences. Edited by Dianne Rocheleau, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Esther Wangari, 180–208. London and New York: Routledge.

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    An excellent ethnographic example of how gender issues are interwoven with the political ecology of agriculture.

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  • Netting, Robert McC. 1974. Agrarian ecology. Annual Review of Anthropology 3:21–56.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.an.03.100174.000321Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A bibliographic essay that contextualizes the study of agriculture within the intellectual history of anthropology, outlining a critique of the primitivist assumptions of early social anthropologists and a vision for anthropological research into agricultural practice in ecological perspective.

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  • Veteto, James R., and Kristine Skarbø. 2009. Sowing the seeds: Anthropological contributions to agrobiodiversity studies. Culture & Agriculture 31.2: 73–87.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-486X.2009.01022.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of topics related to the anthropology of agrobiodiversity, including conservation, cultural memory, farmer decision making, gardening, climate change, food studies, sustainability, and alternative agriculture.

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Global Climate Change

While archaeologists (see, for example, Bawden and Reycraft 2000, cited under Disasters) have been interested in long-term climatic shifts and issues of human adaptation for some time, social and cultural anthropologists have begun paying serious attention to questions related to climate and global climate change only relatively recently. They are, however, beginning to make very important contributions to interdisciplinary research. Both Strauss and Orlove 2003 and Crate and Nuttall 2008 can be used very effectively in the classroom, or by a general audience. Baer and Singer 2008 offers an environmental-health perspective based in anthropology, and this is also written at a level accessible to undergraduates. Batterbury 2008 and Lahsen 2010 present different visions of the current field, for an academic audience. A variety of new work can be expected from young anthropologists now beginning to publish and to practice applied anthropology. Also of interest are emerging research centers and institutes such as the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change, directed by Emilio Moran.

  • Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change.

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    An interdisciplinary training-and-research center focused on the human dimensions of global environment change. Hosted by Indiana University.

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  • Baer, Hans, and Merrill Singer. 2008. Global warming and the political ecology of health: Emerging crises and systemic solutions. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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    A comparative study of the impacts of global climate change upon human health, synthesizing a methodological approach that bridges medical anthropology and environmental science. The authors highlight the sociopolitical and economic inequalities that structure human vulnerability.

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  • Batterbury, Simon. 2008. Anthropology and global warming: The need for environmental engagement. Australian Journal of Anthropology 19.1: 62–68.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1835-9310.2008.tb00108.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An essay that reviews the state of climate change research in anthropology and calls for further attention to the field. Part of a special “soapbox forum” section on Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change that includes contributions from environmental anthropologists from across Australia.

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  • Crate, Susan A., and Mark Nuttall, eds. 2008. Anthropology and climate change: From encounters to actions. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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    The most comprehensive attempt so far to bring together anthropological research related to climate change. This volume presents a strong outline of theoretical approaches and concerns across anthropology, very accessible comparative case studies on the impacts of climate change from around the world, and challenging analytical papers addressing policy issues.

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  • Lahsen, Myanna. 2010. The social status of climate change knowledge: An editorial essay. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate 1.2: 162–171.

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    Outlines the general parameters of an approach to studying the sociocultural construction of knowledge about climate change, whether local or expert. An explicit attempt to blend disciplinary traditions across anthropology, sociology, and science studies.

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  • Strauss, Sarah, and Benjamin Orlove, eds. 2003. Weather, climate, culture. Oxford and New York: Berg.

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    A highly readable introduction to the anthropology of weather and climate change, surveying case studies from around the world.

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Conservation

Critical studies of conservation and development include work related to parks and protected areas, forestry, biodiversity, ecotourism, sustainable development, or ecodevelopment. Within this thematic cluster, strong trends exist to provide both intellectual and policy critiques of dominant paradigms for conservation. Examples are collected in Anderson and Berglund 2003 and Brosius, et al. 2005. Cognate fields, including archaeology (see Lauwerier and Plug 2004) and primatology (for example, Hill 2002), play a prominent role here. There are many studies of human–animal relations and conflicts, now increasingly in the context of nonhuman species extinctions. Examples include Knight 2001 and Toussaint 2005. Many scholars study the relation between environmental-management programs and the state, the role of nongovernmental organizations, and, more recently, between environmental governance and private interests, within a broad political-ecology framework. Comprehensive “snapshots” of relevant literature are found in Orlove and Brush 1996 and comparatively, ten years later, in West, et al. 2006.

  • Anderson, David G., and Eeva K. Berglund, eds. 2003. Ethnographies of conservation: Environmentalism and the distribution of privilege. Oxford: Berghahn.

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    An excellent collection of case studies by social anthropologists, with an unusually good geographical balance. The editors argue that critical attention should be paid to the discourses of conservation ideology, and the processes through which these perpetuate relations of inequality between experts and local people in conservation.

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  • Brosius, J. Peter, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, and Charles Zerner, eds. 2005. Communities and conservation: Histories and politics of community-based natural resource management. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.

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    A discussion of community-based natural-resource management, from the perspective of leading scholars in political-ecology and historical-ecology approaches in anthropology.

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  • Hill, Catherine M. 2002. Primate conservation and local communities: Ethical issues and debates. American Anthropologist 104.4: 1184–1194.

    DOI: 10.1525/aa.2002.104.4.1184Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A biological anthropologist looks at the ethical issues inherent in wildlife conservation, considering the ethical imperative to support and involve local communities.

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  • Knight, John, ed. 2001. Natural enemies: People-wildlife conflict in anthropological perspective. London and New York: Routledge.

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    A collection of papers on human–animal relations in Europe, Africa, and Asia, sponsored by the European Association of Social Anthropologists.

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  • Lauwerier, Roel C. G. M., and Ina Plug, eds. 2004. The future from the past: Archaeozoology in wildlife conservation and heritage management. Oxford: Oxbow.

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    Surveys the range of contributions made by zooarchaeology to the management and conservation of natural and cultural heritage.

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  • Orlove, Benjamin S., and Stephen B. Brush. 1996. Anthropology and the conservation of biodiversity. Annual Review of Anthropology 25:329–352.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.25.1.329Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A bibliographic essay from the mid-1990s, evaluating how anthropological research documents local knowledge and practices related to biodiversity conservation, clarifies issues of cultural perspective, and supports applied projects and policy debates.

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  • Toussaint, Yann. 2005. Debating biodiversity: Threatened species conservation and scientific values. Australian Journal of Anthropology 16.3: 382–393.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1835-9310.2005.tb00318.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the cultural logic of conservation biology and threatened-species recovery projects, blending perspectives from environmental anthropology and science studies.

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  • West, Paige, James Igoe, and Dan Brockington. 2006. Parks and peoples: The social impact of protected areas. Annual Review of Anthropology 35:251–277.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123308Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A recent bibliographic essay surveying themes and the state of the field.

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Disasters

Archaeologists have long been interested in the environmental factors associated with prehistoric evidence of earlier societal collapses (see Bawden and Reycraft 2000). Hoffman and Oliver-Smith 2002 demonstrates a cultural anthropology approach. Environmental anthropologists working in humanitarian aid, development, public health, or advocacy (see, for example, Fortun 2001, cited under Applied Anthropology) are often concerned with the aftermath of contemporary disasters. With the increasing frequency of “natural disasters” associated with climate shift, and the growing humanitarian concerns associated with the displacement of environmental refugees, the anthropology of disasters is receiving growing attention. Oliver-Smith 2008, Button 2010, and Gusterson 2011 offer important models of how to apply anthropological methods of research and analysis to help understand the institutional and structural contexts of human vulnerability both to “natural” and human-made disasters, and to provide potential avenues to mitigate the worst impacts of these events.

  • Bawden, Garth, and Richard M. Reycraft, eds. 2000. Environmental disaster and the archaeology of human response. Vol. 7. Albuquerque, NM: Maxwell Museum of Anthropology.

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    A collection of case studies from Mediterranean Europe, Eurasia, Peru, Mexico, and the American Southwest that brings archaeological research to bear on the theorization of human adaptive responses to natural disasters and environmental stress.

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  • Button, Gregory. 2010. Disaster culture: Knowledge and uncertainty in the wake of human and environmental catastrophe. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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    A critical discussion of responses to major environmental disasters. The author argues that government and industry routinely prioritize economic interests and the reduction of liability over the health of citizens and the environment.

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  • Gusterson, Hugh. 2011. The lessons of Fukushima. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 16 March 2011.

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    A timely contribution to debates about the environmental risks of nuclear power, following the reactor accident in Fukushima, Japan. Open-source web edition.

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  • Hoffman, Susanna M. and Anthony Oliver-Smith. 2002. Catastrophe and culture: The anthropology of disaster. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research.

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    A volume offering theoretical and methodological framework for cultural anthropologists to study disasters, particularly environmental disasters, as the outcome of historical and structural processes rather than exceptional events. Features important case studies from South America, East Africa, the United States, southern Europe, and India.

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  • Oliver-Smith, Anthony. 2008. Disasters and forced migration in the 21st century. Understanding Katrina: Perspectives from the social sciences. SSRC online resource.

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    Posted to an online essay forum providing open access to social-science scholarship on Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, this succinct and clear discussion examines the displacement of city residents as an example of environmental refugees.

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Energy, Resources, and Pollution

Given current debates about resource conflicts and depletion, peak oil, global climate change, and the environmental risks involved in resource extraction and processing, there are increasing contributions on this theme in environmental anthropology. Links to geography, interdisciplinary studies of landscape research, and political ecology are especially important here. Reyna and Behrends 2008 assembles essays on the relationship between oil development and state power, while both Sawyer 2010 and Kirsch 2010 comment on the politics of environmental-health concerns resulting from the toxic by-products and accidents in oil production. Ernst 1999 illustrates one way to apply the methods of linguistic anthropology to help understand resource conflicts and development debates. Nader 2010 considers the role of anthropology in understanding and contributing to policy debates on energy, particularly in the US context, while Krauss 2010 exemplifies an emerging interest in the study of alternative-energy resource development.

  • Ernst, Thomas M. 1999. Land, stories and resources: Discourse and entification in Onabasulu modernity. American Anthropologist 101.1: 88–97.

    DOI: 10.1525/aa.1999.101.1.88Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An illustration of how petroleum extraction by multinationals in Papua New Guinea has influenced the lineage histories, myths, and other stories that Onabasulu people use to position themselves competitively in relation to resources. Adopts a linguistic anthropological approach to the political ecology of resources.

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  • Kirsch, Stuart. 2010. Guest editorial: Sustainability and the BP oil spill. Dialectical Anthropology 34.3: 295–300.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10624-010-9203-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the stakes involved in corporate discourses of sustainability, considering the narratives that unfolded in the context of the catastrophic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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  • Krauss, Werner. 2010. The “Dingpolitik” of wind energy in northern German landscapes: An ethnographic case study. Landscape Research 35.2: 195–208.

    DOI: 10.1080/01426390903557972Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An ethnographic article analyzing the emergence of wind energy landscapes in Germany.

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  • Nader, Laura. 2010. The politics of energy: Toward a bottom-up approach. In The energy reader. Edited by Laura Nader, 313–317. Oxford: Blackwell.

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    A timely comment on the role of anthropology in the analysis of energy futures, by a legal anthropologist who has undertaken research and applied projects related to energy policy debates since the 1980s.

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  • Reyna, Stephen, and Andrea Behrends, eds. 2008. Toward an anthropology of oil and domination. Focaal—European Journal of Anthropology 52:1–76.

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    A timely collection of essays from a political-ecology perspective, studying the connections between oil resource development and structures of power.

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  • Sawyer, Susana. 2010. Human energy. Dialectical Anthropology 34.1: 67–75.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10624-009-9122-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Outlines strategies of media representation by corporate actors in the wake of the class-action lawsuit against Chevron-Texaco in Ecuador, as well as responses by the indigenous movement for environmental justice and socially conscious advocates within the United States. Open access.

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Governance, States, and Globalization

There have been many important overlaps between environmental anthropology and the anthropology of development and globalization, as well as interdisciplinary research and practice in development studies. Some of this overlap ranges into the domain of political and legal anthropology; much of it overlaps with other thematic clusters of interest. Tsing 1993, Gupta 1998, Agrawal 2005, Li 2007, and Escobar 2008 are all ethnographic monographs that are widely recognized as valuable for examining debates related to the politics of development and environmental governance. They generally fit into a political-ecology paradigm, although Tsing 1993 was published early in the development of the field, and it has sometimes been dubbed as an example of “postmodern” anthropology. Studies emerging in South and Southeast Asia have had a particular impact on the field.

  • Agrawal, Arun. 2005. Environmentality: Technologies of government and the making of subjects. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    A highly influential work that considers historical transformations in power/knowledge, institutions, and subjectivities associated with environmentalism in India.

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  • Escobar, Arturo. 2008. Territories of difference: Place, movements, life, redes. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    A masterful ethnography of Afro-Columbian social movements and the cultural politics of place and identity. Escobar’s trademark post-structural approach is brought to bear in reconceptualizing nature, networks, and global modernity.

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  • Gupta, Akhil. 1998. Postcolonial developments: Agriculture in the making of modern India. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    A landmark ethnography of agricultural development schemes in practice, including a critical study of sustainability. Adopts a broadly post-structuralist paradigm consistent with emerging approaches in political ecology.

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  • Li, Tania. 2007. The will to improve: Governmentality, development, and the practice of politics. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    Drawing on long-term ethnography in Indonesia, this important book extends and critiques post-structuralist approaches to environment and development. The author draws on the work of Antonio Gramsci to complicate Foucauldian theoretical frameworks for understanding processes of governance and power.

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  • Tsing, Anna. 1993. In the realm of the diamond queen: Marginality in an out-of-the-way place. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    A classic monograph examining environment, development, and marginality in the Indonesian rain forest. This feminist account strongly portrays the author’s intersubjective engagement with key informants, building a sophisticated narrative about the cultural encounters that frame and flow from decisions about resource management.

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Indigenous Perspectives and Perspectives on Indigeneity

The role of indigenous nations and communities in efforts toward environmental defense, conservation, ecodevelopment, and sustainability has been a theme of major importance for anthropologists. On the one hand, as Sponsel 1995 explores in Amazonia, many indigenous peoples have been adversely affected by displacements and environmental contamination or degradation related to resource extraction and industrial development. Their rights to cultural survival and well-being have been championed in humanitarian discourses, though these discourses tend to fall deliberately short of supporting campaigns for sovereignty and self-determination. Langton 1998 and Ranco and Saugee 2007 present indigenous perspectives from Australia and the United States. The sophistication of local indigenous knowledge about landscapes in which they live, botanical resources, and dynamic microecologies has been recognized by anthropologists, ethnoecologists, and others; on this subject, see, for example, Bicker, et al. 2000. On the other hand, debates have unfolded both to problematize romantic visions of native peoples as primitive ecologists and to complicate unthinking critiques. Ramos 2003, Dove 2006, and Harkin and Lewis 2007 make important anthropological contributions to this debate (which also harks back to themes addressed in Conklin and Graham 1995 and Brosius 1997, cited under Political Ecology). Basso 1996 continues to stand out as an example of linguistic anthropology that presents a nuanced picture of relationships among language, culture, and landscape without reifying or homogenizing a representation of local community.

  • Basso, Keith. 1996. Wisdom sits in places: Landscape and language among the western Apache. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press.

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    A classic ethnography in linguistic anthropology that highlights how indigenous knowledges about the environment are embedded in distinctive, non-Western ontological frames.

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  • Bicker, Alan, Roy Ellen, and Peter Parkes, eds. 2000. Indigenous environmental knowledge and its transformations: Critical anthropological perspectives. London and New York: Routledge.

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    An important collection of papers that interrogate the assumptions, methodologies, and concepts associated with the burgeoning field of indigenous knowledge, or “traditional ecological knowledge” (TEK).

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  • Dove, Michael. 2006. Indigenous peoples and environmental politics. Annual Review of Anthropology 35:191–208.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123235Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A bibliographic essay that surveys anthropological literature to shed light on the cultural politics of indigeneity and environmentalism.

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  • Harkin, Michael E., and David Rich Lewis, eds. 2007. Native Americans and the environment: Perspectives on the ecological Indian. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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    A collection of papers responding to critics who have problematized the notion that indigenous peoples are inherently close to nature and live sustainably.

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  • Langton, Marcia. 1998. Burning questions: Emerging environmental issues for indigenous peoples in northern Australia. Darwin, Australia: Centre for Indigenous Natural and Cultural Resource Management, Northern Territory Univ.

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    A book by a leading Aboriginal scholar, engaging polemic debates on the use of fire in Australia and complicating the impact of settler cultures on indigenous ecological practices.

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  • Ramos, Alcida. 2003. Pulp fictions of indigenism. In Race, nature and the politics of difference. Edited by Donald S. Moore, Jake Kosek, and Anand Pandian, 356–379. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    An article that problematizes environmentalist representations of indigeneity in Brazil as a form of Orientalism.

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  • Ranco, Darren, and Dean Saugee. 2007. Tribal sovereignty and the problem of difference in environmental regulation: Observations on “measured separatism” in Indian country. Antipode 39.4: 691–707.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2007.00547.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Two Native American scholars argue for the value of tribal environmental sovereignty, and the more meaningful participation of cultural minorities in systems of environmental regulation within nation-states.

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  • Sponsel, Leslie E., ed. 1995. Indigenous peoples and the future of Amazonia: An ecological anthropology of an endangered world. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press.

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    A highly regarded collection of essays on culture and environment in the Amazonian rain forest, using an ecological anthropology approach. Given concerns about deforestation, biodiversity loss, and indigenous human rights, it was extremely timely.

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Water

The anthropology of water management, water quality, and water resource conflicts is increasingly prominent, as these issues come to the fore among concerns about both globalization and global climate change. The sources outlined below range from environmental-health and justice perspectives to historical and political perspectives on these issues. Ethnography engaging issues of water resource privatization and water mining is particularly timely; the citations included here are recent and provocative. Baviskar 2007 includes essays representing research areas around the world. Williams 2001 and Rodriguez 2006 present case studies from the United States. Other case studies in this section represent Peru (Gelles 2000), Bali (Lansing 2006), Mexico (Nash 2007), India (Ananthakrishnan 2007), and Australia (Strang 2009).

  • Ananthakrishnan, Aiyer. 2007. The allure of the transnational: Notes on some aspects of the political economy of water in India. Cultural Anthropology 22.4: 640–658.

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    An article that brings ethnography to bear in considering resource conflicts over bottled water in India, within the larger context of agrarian crisis.

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  • Baviskar, Amita, ed. 2007. Waterscapes: The cultural politics of a natural resource. Raniket, Uttarankal, India: Permanent Black.

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    A very useful interdisciplinary collection of theoretically informed case studies, looking at emerging hydro-resource politics in different parts of the world.

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  • Gelles, Paul H. 2000. Water and power in highland Peru: The cultural politics of irrigation and development. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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    A comprehensive historical ecology of an Andean community, of particular interest as such communities face increasing water scarcity linked to glacial melt. Gives thoughtful attention to the politics of development and negotiation of cultural identity.

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  • Lansing, J. Stephen. 2006. Perfect order: Recognizing complexity in Bali. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    A historical ecology of Balinese water temples, exploring ethnographic insight into religious cosmology and cooperation in irrigation management.

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  • Nash, June. 2007. Consuming interests: Water, rum and Coca-Cola from ritual propitiation to corporate expropriation in highland Chiapas. Cultural Anthropology 22.4: 621–639.

    DOI: 10.1525/can.2007.22.4.621Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A landmark essay bringing together insights from archaeology, ethnohistory, and political economy to understand the history of water resources in the Chiapas region of Mexico.

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  • Rodriguez, Sylvia. 2006. Acequia: Water sharing, sanctity, and place. Santa Fe, NM: School of Advanced Research Press.

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    Explores the interaction of water, faith, and landscape in northern New Mexico, with a focus on the historical management of water and its impact on daily life and the emergent revitalization of traditional praxis as a sustainable approach to modern water-management issues. Winner of the Association for Latino and Latina Anthropologists Book Award.

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  • Strang, Veronica. 2009. Gardening the world: Agency, identity and the ownership of water. Oxford: Berghahn.

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    An exploration of water resource conflicts in two Australian river catchment areas, based on ethnography and longitudinal study of different stakeholder perspectives, including indigenous communities, farmers, industries, recreational and domestic water users, and environmental organizations.

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  • Williams, Brett. 2001. A river runs through us. American Anthropologist 103.2: 409–431.

    DOI: 10.1525/aa.2001.103.2.409Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines environmental-justice issues along the Anacostia River in Washington, DC, in historical perspective. An excellent example of how political-ecology approaches are being applied to urban anthropology in the United States, to address the environmental dimensions of race and poverty.

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LAST MODIFIED: 01/11/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199766567-0041

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