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: 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.

Name: Piergiorgio Di Giminiani

Affiliation: Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (Chile)

Contact details: pdigiminia@uc.cl

Statement of interest: land property, indigenous ontologies, state power, peasantry, conservation, environmentalism

Geographical/topical area of interest: Latin America, Chile

Name: Pablo Domínguez

Affiliation: Research Fellow and Associate Lecturer at the Ethno-ecology Laboratory / Laboratory for the Analysis of Socio-Ecological Systems in a Global World (http://icta.uab.es/Etnoecologia/index.php / http://ictaweb.uab.cat/linia_recerca.php?linia=30&area=2&setLanguage=en) and the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology (http://www.uab.cat/antropologia/), Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, 08193 - Bellaterra (Spain)

Contact details: Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA)
Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, 08193 - Bellaterra (Spain)
Email: eco.antropologias@gmail.com

Statement of interest: He has focused most of his research on the Maghreb, particularly on the agro-silvo-pastoralism of Berber populations of the High Atlas of Morocco and their AGDALS, Morocco's prime Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Areas (hereafter ICCAs: https://iucn.org/about/union/commissions/ceesp/topics/governance/icca/). For the last decade his main theoretical question has been how symbolic-cultural representations and socio-material uses of the Environment relate to each other in the case of AGDALS and how to approach this in an increasingly holistic manner (www.tdx.cat/bitstream/10803/79093/1/pdg1de1.pdf). His present and future research agenda concentrate on how to implement the accumulated knowledge on eco-anthropological theory, ICCAs and agro-silvo-pastoralism through procedures of heritization within a Mediterranean Political Ecology framework (http://www.mediter.ird.fr).

Geographical/topical area of interest: With a background of a Magrebist and a specialization on Berber populations, currently he is opening to new communities of agro-silvo-pastoralists within the Mediterranean mountains in sites such as Sicily, the Apennines, the Pyrenees and the Andalusian Baetic mountains. In this context he is currently the Principal Investigator of the three year project in Spain and Morocco "Socio-Ecological Heritization of ICCAs (HERICCA): http://icta.uab.es/Etnoecologia/proyecto.php?Id_proyecto=98.

Name: Michèle D. Dominy

Affiliation: Bard College
Professor of Anthropology, and Environmental and Urban  Studies
Director of Environmental and Urban Studies

Contact details: mdominy@bard.edu

Statement of interest: I have conducted long-term field research in the New Zealand high country on land, culture and identity, with a focus on place attachment, land contestations and sustainability in mountain lands. Fieldwork in Australia focused on alpine cultural heritage in NSW and Victoria. Current research projects in empire and ecology explore cultural and natural heritage conservation and botanical anthropology in the British diaspora with a focus on ecological restoration, the anthropology of plants, and the culture of orchid hybridisation.

Geographical/topical area of interest: New Zealand, Australia, Anthropology of Place, Conservation Anthropology, Botanical Anthropology, Mountain Lands, Invasion Ecologies

Name: Katherine C. Donahue

Affiliation: Professor Emeritus, Plymouth State University Director, The White Ash Institute

Contact details: Email: kdonahue@plymouth.edu
Tel: 802/291-1754 (cell) 802/436-2448 (home)
164 Jenneville Rd., Windsor, VT 05089 USA

Statement of interest: I am affiliated with the Plymouth State University (NH) Center for the Environment. I have researched the mining and marketing of tanzanite in Tanzania. Currently I am working on the sustainability issues created by the manufacture and use of recreational boats. These issues include, but are not limited to, the use of carbon fiber and fiberglass in their construction. End of life disposition of these boats has been ill-addressed. The marine industry is aware of this problem, but the market for recycled construction materials is limited. The European Union and its member states, including France and the Netherlands, have been working on this problem, the US less so.

Geographical/topical area of interest: Tanzania, United States, France, Netherlands