The Anthropology and the Environment Committee of the RAI have put together a list of anthropologists who are interested in environmental issues.  This list is a resource for other anthropologists and for those outside anthropology looking for a particular expertise.

If you are interested in being included please reply to admin@therai.org.uk and include:

  • Name
  • Affiliation
  • Contact details
  • Statement of interest
  • Geographical/topical area of interest

Name: Sara de Wit

Affiliation: Institute for Science Innovation and Society (InSIS)/ School for Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME)

Contact details: Sara.dewit@insis.ox.ac.uk
64 Banbury Road, Oxford

Statement of interest: Trained in anthropology and African studies I am currently interested in how environmental futures are shaped and reconfigured through new forecasting technologies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Geographical/topical area of interest: I have carried out (multi-sited) ethnographic fieldwork in Tanzania, Cameroon and Madagascar. I have mainly been trying to understand how the globally constructed idea of climate change travels and is translated across a distance.

Name: Bartholomew Dean

Affiliation: University of Kansas and Museo Regional-Universidad Nacional de San Martín

Contact details: Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 66045-7556 USA & Museo Regional-Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Tarapoto, San Martín, Peru

Geographical/topical area of interest: Amazonia & Indigenous Peoples; Climate Change; Environmental Racism; Ecocide & Human Rights

Name: Carlos Del Cairo

Affiliation: Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Universidad Javeriana (Colombia)

Contact details: Carlos Del Cairo, Ph.D.
Departamento de Antropología
Facultad de Ciencias Sociales
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Carrera 5 No. 39-00 Edificio 95.  Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Phone number: +57(1) 320 8320 Ext. 5894
Email: cdelcairo@javeriana.edu.co
http://naturalezaculturaypoder.wordpress.com/

Statement of interest: I am interested in issues of political ecology and identity politics in Amazonian populations. Particularly, I currently work on issues of ecotourism and peasants populations, indigenous relations with the environment and the political tensions of producing natures, populations and spaces in areas of social conflict.

Geographical/topical area of interest: Latin America, Colombia, Amazon.

Name: Marion Demossier

Affiliation: Modern Languages and Linguistics, University of Southampton

Contact details: Faculty of Humanities, Avenue Campus, Southampton, SO17 1BJ

Statement of interest: I am working on climate change and its effects on viticulture, terroir and wine quality.

Geographical/topical area of interest: France, Italy, Portugal, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Name: Camelia Dewan

Affiliation: PhD Candidate University of London (Geography, Environment and Development Studies at Birkbeck and Social Anthropology at SOAS)

Contact details: dewan.camelia@gmail.com

Statement of interest: My doctoral research in Social Anthropology and the Environment deconstructs an increasingly depoliticised and technical climate change knowledge production paradigm to show how climate change has become one of the latest development ‘buzzwords’ (Cornwall 2007). Using the case of Bangladesh’s coastal zone, my research uses insights gathered from long-term ethnographic fieldwork and archival research to deconstruct narratives which depict Bangladesh as a “victim” of climate change. Such representations simplify the multitude of complex and interlinked processes affecting livelihoods in Bangladesh’s coastal zone. Through the lens of climate change as a development discourse I show that, despite attracting substantial development funds, the development industry has failed ordinary, non-metropolitan Bangladeshis in significant ways by funding unsustainable infrastructure, aquaculture and agriculture that are destroying local ecology and livelihoods, and further exacerbating indebtedness due to microcredit.

Until recently, anthropological engagements with climate change have mainly focused on investigating the local effects of global climate change (Crate and Nuttall 2009). Some scholars even advocate a shift from ‘environmental ethnography’ to ‘climate ethnography’ (Crate 2011). However, by doing so anthropologists risk losing a holistic understanding of livelihood challenges, while also engaging in ‘climate reductionism’, an increasing trend of placing disproportionate attention on climate as a causal explanation of change over other factors that shape societies and the physical world (Hulme 2011). The current development paradigm in Bangladesh is based on causal assumptions that climate change causes floods. However, using archival research and oral histories, I trace the environmental history of floods and embankments and show how the changing narratives about their forms and functions are embedded in the social power dynamics of each time period. Embankments were originally used to prevent salinity (1770s-1850). During the British Raj (1860s) they were re-cast as ‘flood protection’ infrastructure, allowing for the expansion of railways and today major donors like the World Bank promote them as ‘climate change adaptation’ infrastructure. My research underscores that siltation, not rising sea levels, is the key factor exacerbating flood risks in Bangladesh. Donor projects to build higher and wider embankments as a form of climate change adaptation may, ironically, serve only to increase climatic vulnerability.

Long-term ethnographic fieldwork with a historical perspective helps bring these complexities to light through the messy disjunctures of history and the voices of people so often neglected and has much to offer in terms of improving livelihoods and redirecting development funds to that cause. I do so by exploring indigenous knowledge of the effects of agriculture on health and the environment, as well as that of precarity, indebtedness, gendered livelihoods and the importance of everyday migration. It is essential to add these perspectives to discussions of climate change which otherwise tend to be dominated by natural science perspectives and ‘scientific models’ which often do not probe the assumptions of the models themselves and the intricate chains of causality behind the correlations they measure.

Geographical/topical area of interest: Bangladesh, South Asia, climate change, development aid, environmental history, agriculture, aquaculture, environment and food, flood protection, embankments, environmental migration, 'climate refugees', indigenous knowledge on the effects of agriculture and aquaculture on the environment and health, gendered livelihoods, everyday migration, microcredit and indebtedness.