Author Archives: EnviroAnt Network

Resources for Teaching Environmental Anthropology in Fearful and Inspiring Times

In April 2021 the Teaching Environmental Anthropology Working Group of the EASA Environmental Anthropology Network convened its first (online) workshop, under the title ‘Teaching Environmental Anthropology in Fearful and Inspiring Times’.

Organised and curated by Jeanne Féaux de la Croix and Alessandro Rippa, the workshop featured the work of 14 scholars, practitioners, and students in two brief sessions focusing on teaching goals, ethics and resources.

They state: “On this page we have curated presentations introducing some favourite and unusual teaching resources. Our hope is that these short talks will continue to foster conversations around some of the key dimensions of teaching environmental anthropology, and that they will inspire scholars, students, and activists for new activities in the classroom and beyond.”

You can find the complete programme of the workshop here.

Once again, we thank all workshop participants for a stimulating day of conversations.

Mengyi Zhang

(University of Cologne, Germany)

Why it was Difficult for me to study Anthropology and how I overcame these Difficulties

  • Type of resource: Approach
  • Keywords: online learning, mass media, class communication

From a student’s perspective, Mengyi Zhan gives suggestions on how to integrate mass media content into anthropology lectures, and explains what the benefits are, based on her learning experience. The resources include some YouTube videos and the curriculum of Yale university’s anthropology introductory class.

Liliana Duica Amaya

(Universidad de los Andes, Colombia)

War ecology in the Colombian Amazon: Warscapes as an insightful methodology

  • Type of resource: Approach
  • Keywords: Warscapes, Gunpoint conservation, Amazon Landscapes

Environmental knowledge requires understanding cultural traditions especially when violence hybridized to the day-to-day life of communities. This approach will allow to understand violence through environmental anthropology.

Gunpoint conservation by guerrillas in the Colombian Amazon suggests the inextricable relation of effective governance using traditional environmental knowledge. Teaching environmental anthropology based on ethnography in conflict settings contributes to better understanding violence in protected ecosystems.

Practitioners or students analyzing violence contexts could use this as a guide to prepare, conduct and analyze ethnographic fieldwork in armed conflict settings.

Tim Ingold 

(University of Aberdeen, UK)

Manifesto for an outdoor anthropology

  • Type of resource: Approach
  • Keywords: attention, observation, outdoors
  • Literature: Tim Ingold, 2013, ‘Knowing from the inside’, in Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture (Abingdon: Routledge), pp. 1-15.

Observation means attending to the world and corresponding with it. In environmental anthropology we should be teaching students how to be good observers. This means students should learn to think outdoors, through intense observational engagements with the world around them, and to bring this thinking into a resourceful critique of what they read. 

Eunice Blavascunas 

(Whitman College, Walla Walla, USA)

Decolonizing Classroom Expectations: Pre-colonial ingenuity and evolutionary debates

  • Type of resource: text
  • Keywords: evolutionary debates, domestication, decolonizing knowledge
  • Literature: Bruce Pascoe, 2014, Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident (Magabala Books)

Bruce Pascoe’s, “Dark Emu” is a short book that Eunice Blavascunas used to teach about decolonizing classrooms expectations, especially in regards to indigenous knowledge and scholarship, published outside of the academy. In this teaching example you can also explore evolutionary debates within the book, asking if agriculture and domestication is an evolutionary advance, something all humans have, or a discourse that selectively omits other ways of sourcing food and shaping landscapes.  Bruce Pascoe forcefully argues and evidences examples of aboriginal agriculture that European settlers wrote about and yet were blind to.  This is a good text for considering our own habits in the classroom and what we do when we read and discuss a text that inverts indigenous ways of knowing and the facticity of written historical accounts.

Maria Ayala

(University of Canterbury, NZ)

Walking backwards into the Future. Teachings from Māori People

  • Type of resource: fieldwork reflections
  • Keywords: indigenous knowledge, Maori wisdom, multispecies ethnography

This video contains a personal account from fieldwork on forest biosecurity. It suggests a humble, kind, and ethical approach towards the human and non-human others that you may encounter when doing environmental anthropology. It encourages outdoor learning, the use of the body as a research tool and the courage to see the world from a different perspective.

Martín Fonck

(IIAS Potsdam, Germany)

Environmental Autobiography

  • Type of resource: Exercise
  • Keywords: Environmental autobiography – Nature experiences – Exploratory exercise

During 2020 with Saskia Brill, we designed and taught the course “Environment and Knowledge: An ethnographic exploration” at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Rachel Carson Center Certificate Program. We used the teaching method, the “environmental autobiography” to discuss how the sublime experiences of nature are present in our biographies when we start talking about the environment. This exercise inspired us to pay attention to how we tell stories and frame concepts to describe the environment, exploring our own environmental stories as a way of starting this challenging conversation.

Anna Antonova 

(Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Germany)

‘Reinventing Oktoberfest’: Imagining alternative environmental Futures in the interdisciplinary environmental Humanities Classroom

This exercise invites students to draw on their diverse experiences of environment and society in reimagining a well-known global festival: Oktoberfest. Based on a background reading of Gibson-Graham and Miller’s work on the economy as ecological livelihood, students apply theoretical knowledge gained throughout the semester to imagine alternative models for a sustainable future, considering societal and environmental trade-offs discussed throughout the semester. The point of the exercise is to brainstorm idealized alternatives, thereby gaining a deeper appreciation of the problems discussed in class.

Diane Russell

Practitioner Roles in Teaching Environmental Anthropology

  • Type of resource: approach
  • Key words: remote lecture, blog, practitioner

This video demonstrates how environmental anthropology practitioners can support teaching through remote lectures, which was critical during the pandemic. The video describes how Diane Russell developed teaching materials in the form of blogs linked to key resources for these remote lectures. The blog featured in the video concerns an anthropological perspective on efforts to reduce deforestation and mitigate climate change in developing countries. 

EnviroAnt Workshop in Tallinn, Estonia – Keynote Abstracts

Keynote 1- 14 October 2021. 9.30am CET.

Dr. Rasa Smite and Dr. Raitis Smits

Sensing Environments. Artistic Practices and Methodologies Revealing the Eco-Systematic Relations 


“Are there any medium which better than others can open our senses towards the environment?” (Bruno Latour)

Our senses have always been “mediated”, but with more recent enhancements of various ‘immersive’ technologies, our ‘sensoriums’ have intensified and become more mediated than ever before. Environmental monitoring sensors and remote sensing tools used in environmental sciences and landscape research are extending our knowledge, perception and experiences. Yet, we ask, which practices, tools, technologies may help us better to ‘sense’ the environment? What are the methodologies for creating the meaningful relations (with it)? And – what art can do? If the ‘constructivist’ approach has been used to a large extent in environmental research and other fields, ‘experiential’ capabilities such as sensual and immersive properties of the environment have been mainly used in art practices that create immersive interaction through experience, reflection and speculation.

We will introduce our artistic practices of exploring various environments, real and virtual, sonic and visible, as well as invisible – from pioneering internet radio experiments pushing the boundaries of an “acoustic cyberspace” and artistic investigations in electromagnetic spectrum, to more recent ‘techno-ecological’ art projects exploring the landscapes using sensing technologies, data sonification and visualizations to reveal the invisible activity in nature ecosystems.  such as bacteria activity happening in the swamp ecosystems or volatile emissions of the pine trees in the forest and atmosphere.

To create “Pond Battery” (2014-2015) and “Swamp Radio” (2018) artworks of “Biotricity” series, we performed artistic interventions installing “bacteria batteries”, sensors and transmitting devices in ponds, swamps and other wetlands in North Europe and North America. Environmental data were collected, sonified and visualized making visible the invisible activities in nature such as bacteria living in a pond or swamp sediments producing electricity.

Our recent artwork “Atmospheric Forest” (2021), an immersive VR environment is created using remote scanned 3D forest environment, and visualizes the data of the fragrant emissions of pine trees, revealing complex patterns of relations between climate change, forest emissions and the atmosphere.By showcasing how sensing technologies and immersive tools used in artistic practice are well suited to reveal our interdependence of living organisms on each other and their environment, we would like to discuss future strategies, tools and methodologies for establishing two (or multi) directional link with our environment. Moreover, we argue that focusing our attention on “terrestrial co-existence” (Latour) and combining both ‘constructivist’ and ‘experiential’ approaches may help us to find less hazardous routes into the future and to create interactive relations with ‘more than human’ environments.

Keynote 2 – 15 October 2021. 9.00am CET.

Annika Lems, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Halle/Saale

Precarious Politics of Placemaking: Why the Historicity of Environmental Future Imaginaries Matters 

In this presentation I will focus on the everyday placemaking practices people in an Austrian mountain community engage in as a response to the exploitative and destructive nature of global capitalism. By zooming in on grassroot projects aimed at food sovereignty, I will show the important social role environmental future imaginaries can take on as a means of creating a sense of belonging and solidarity in “forgotten”, rural places that are marked by unemployment, defunding and out-migration.

However, I will suggest that anthropological analysis needs to inquire into the agency attached to such projects, laying bare the ambiguous nature of supposedly “green” and progressive placemaking practices. By looking into the everyday engagements with history fuelling local struggles for social and environmental viability in my Austrian fieldsite, I attempt to make visible the contours of a troubling politics of place. This politics of place, I will argue, does not just act against extractive capitalism. Based on historically ingrained notions of otherness, it has the side-effect of reproducing reactionary and exclusionary ideas of belonging to place.

Keynote 3 – 15 October 2021. 1.30am CET.

Stine Krøijer, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen

Activism and its futures in landscapes of broken developmental dreams

In the second half of the 20th Century, modernization projects and associated narratives of economic development and progress made their imprint on landscapes and altered human relations to nature. Across ideological and political standpoints such narratives informed people’s outlook to the future and even their projects of progressive political change. Yet no more than a decade after the story about reaching an “end of history” gained momentum among European politicians – a story advocating the idea that a particular politico-economic formation would constitute the end-point of all societal development – it became accompanied and even overwritten by experiences of environmental destruction and anthropogenic climate change. In this presentation, I take my point of departure in landscapes of broken developmental dreams with a view to examine the forms of activism that they may give rise to. Based on what I like to refer to as my dark trilogy – a series of articles that examine the afterlife of progress, political uses of dystopia, and changing rhythms of radical environmental activism – I take the listeners to sites of environmental destruction in both Germany, Denmark and Amazonia. I do so in order to outline human and non-human forms of vigorous action, their relation to imperial debris and renderings of time, and to discuss the roles that anthropologists might take in such projects.

For the full programme, please follow this link

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTAL ANTHROPOLOGY WORKSHOP – AN ONLINE WORKSHOP ON GOALS, ETHICS AND RESOURCES. 20 APRIL – PROGRAMME AND ZOOM LINKS

In a time of profound anthropogenic environmental change and severe ecological crises, environmental anthropology is a key subject in helping us understand our shared world and futures. As scholars, practitioners and students, we want to hone our learning and teaching on these crucial themes and anchor them at the core of the anthropological endeavour. This online workshop aims to inspire learning through and with environmental anthropology, by gathering teaching resources and reflecting on ethics and teaching practices.

The workshop is divided into two short sessions. In each session, the first half will be dedicated to watching short pre-recorded presentations, introducing particular resources for teaching environmental anthropology. We will then have an open discussion, sharing further ideas and resources to help meet our teaching or learning goals, as well as some of the ethical and philosophical aspects of such endeavours.

SESSION 1 (9-11am CET)

ZOOM LINK: https://zoom.us/j/94398521848 

Participants and Themes:

Anna S. Antonova — ‘Reinventing Oktoberfest’: Imagining alternative environmental Futures in the interdisciplinary environmental Humanities Classroom

Maria Ayala — Walking backwards into the Future. Teachings from Māori People


Mengyi Zhang — Why it was Difficult for me to study Anthropology and how I overcame these Difficulties


Tim Ingold — Manifesto for an Outdoor Anthropology 

Martín Fonck — Environmental Autobiography

Sandro Simon — Navigating Multi-Sensory Re-Assemblages

SESSION 2 (4-6pm CET)

ZOOM LINK: https://zoom.us/j/93189996646 

Participants and Themes:

Eunice Blavascunas — Decolonizing Classroom Expectations: Pre-colonial Ingenuity and evolutionary Debates

Jodie Asselin — Unpacking the Notion of Complexity through student-led Case Studies


Nicole Katin — Mock-Museum Exhibits Exploring present-day human-environment Relations across Cultures

Jared Schultz — From Pedagogical Discourse to Modeling Humans in Trophic Cascades

Diane Russel — Practitioner Roles in Teaching Environmental Anthropology

Angela Storey — Exploring Urban Environments through Participant Observation

Liliana Duica Amaya — War ecology in the Colombian Amazon: Warscapes as an insightful methodology

Montse Pijoan — How can knowledge be gained despite losing our relationship with our environment? Is there something missing in science or modern ways of learning?


If you would like to attend the workshop, please write to Jana Pfeiffer to register, at this address:jana.pfeiffer@student.uni-tuebingen.de. We will send you the programme and zoom links prior to the workshop.

The workshop is organized by Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (University of Tübingen) and Alessandro Rippa (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society) and is the first initiative of the Teaching Environmental Anthropology Working Group that was recently founded through the EASA Environmental Anthropology Network.

Environmental Anthropology – Teaching Workshop 20 APRIL 2021

Teaching Environmental Anthropology in Fearful and Inspiring Times

An Online Workshop on Goals, Ethics and Resources

Convenors: Jeanne Féaux de la Croix, Alessandro Rippa

21 April 2021, 10am-3pm (CET)

In a time of profound anthropogenic environmental change and severe ecological crises, environmental anthropology is a key subject in helping us understand our shared world and futures. As scholars, practitioners and students, we want to hone our learning and teaching on these crucial themes and anchor them at the core of the anthropological endeavour.

The “Teaching Environmental Anthropology Working Group” was recently founded through the EASA Environmental Anthropology Network. Its aim is to foster conversations around key dimensions of teaching environmental anthropology. We are particularly interested in the ethical and pedagogical aspects of teaching an often-overwhelming subject, and in the interdisciplinary impetus of environmental issues. How can we encourage scholars, practitioners and students to engage with the subject beyond academia? How can we ensure that critically discussing the environmental challenges we face is not only anxiety-inducing, but also generative of tangible change and healing? 

This short online workshop aims to inspire learning through environmental anthropology. We therefore explicitly welcome not only academics but also students and other kinds of practitioners in the arts of environmental teaching. In addition to reflecting on goals and teaching practices, we will gather and comment on available teaching resources such as syllabi, literature, objects, practices and films. We envision each participant briefly introducing their ‘problematic’ and sharing a favourite resource that helped meet their teaching or learning goals. We are particularly interested in examples that speak to the following issues, but also definitely welcome suggestions well beyond these concerns:

●     The “ethics” of teaching environmental issues that may spell the end of the world as we know it and can generate significant anxieties.

●     Interdisciplinary resources, and ways of bridging the gap between anthropology, environmental sciences and activism.

●     Non-English resources, particularly indigenous scholarship on environmental change that might challenge some of our dominant assumptions.

●     Perspectives from students or activists who want or have taken courses on environmental anthropology.

We intend to share some of the outputs of the workshop, particularly in the form of short commentaries by participants, on the EASA network website. We hope the website will grow into a lively arena for resources, recommendations and connections for developing a pedagogy of environmental anthropology in many styles. Confirmed speakers include Anna Antonova (Rachel Carson Center), Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen), and Ursula Münster (University of Oslo).

Participants are asked to pre-record:

●     a brief (1 minute) introduction of yourself, your work and interest in environmental anthropology.

●     a brief (3-4 minute) presentation of a particular resource that you find useful when teaching/learning a related topic. This could well be a favourite reading, but also a practice, a field-trip, object lesson or audio-visual material. 

Following presentations, we will take time for a common discussion around some of the themes that are certain to emerge and further ideas for the working group and website. The event is limited to 20 participants on a first come first serve basis, with additional listening slots. If there are more requests, we will work towards a second event. We will include breaks and off-screen time as part of the workshop’s programme.

If you are interested, please register by sending an email to Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (jeanne.feaux@uni-tuebingen.de) or Alessandro Rippa (alessandro.rippa@rcc.lmu.de) with a brief abstract (max 200 words) detailing your presentation idea and resource, as well as a short bio (max 150 words). The deadline for registration is January 22, 2021.

Rainforests: 11 things to watch in 2021

2020 was a difficult year for tropical rainforest conservation efforts. Some key considerations in 2021 include: the post COVID recovery; the transition of power in the U.S.; deforestation in Indonesia; deforestation in Brazil; the effects of the La Niña climate pattern; ongoing destabilisation of tropical forests; government to government carbon deals; data that will allow better assessment of the impact of COVID on tropical forests; companies incorporating forest-risk into decision-making; ongoing violence against environmental defenders; and whether international policy meetings can get back on track.

Read the full news article here:

EnviroAnt Network Meeting, EASA virtual conference 2020.

The Environment and Anthropology Network held its business meeting on July 20th 2020 from 11am to 1pm (Lisbon time) during the EASA biennial conference. As with the rest of the conference, the meeting was held virtually on the Shindig platform. There were up to 54 people in attendance at any one moment.

  1. Opening and introductions

The current network conveners, Aet Annist (University of Tartu, Estonia) and Franz Krause (University of Cologne, Germany) welcomed the participants. They provided a brief overview over the network’s short history, having been founded in 2018 following an initiative at the biennial EASA conference in Stockholm. The network’s purpose was to be both internal coordination among environmental and ecological anthropologists and other professionals in the field, and external representation of the field, its expertise and the membership to a non-anthropological audience. The current meeting was the network’s first business meeting during an EASA conference.

  • Reports working groups

During EnviroAnt’s inaugural workshop in December 2019, four working groups were envisioned to take forward some of the tasks identified at the workshop.

  1. Focus and Mission: A working group consisting of both network convenors and Mattias Borg Rasmussen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) has elaborated a document on EnviroAnt’s focus and mission to clarify how the network works and what it is about. A draft document has been circulated on the mailing list, and the document will be put to the vote later in the meeting.
    1. Media and Messaging: The media networking group commenced its work after the inaugural Cologne workshop in December 2019. The group consists of Aet Annist, Dan Podjed, Arvid van Dam, Elvira Wepfer and Katrine Callander. At the first meeting in February 2020, we continued the discussions from the event on the exciting research taking place within the network and the potential benefits of reaching out on these topics across disciplines and beyond academia. In addition to the network’s EASA page, work has started on utilising social media platforms and building up a separate network-specific website. Plans are in place for a regular online newsletter, a potential series and links to specialist media in our field. Though in the early stages, we are building a strong foundation for outreach and engagement both within academia and broader audiences.  
    1. Networking: Another working group is to gather information on what other networks and organisations with similar remits (environment/ecology/anthropology) and strategic interest for us exist, and to forge links with them for potential collaborations, communication and developing synergies. This includes environment-related networks within the national anthropology associations, especially from countries in Eastern and Central Europe, which so far have been underrepresented in EnviroAnt. Unfortunately, this working group has not yet materialised. Network members interested in helping to take this forward are invited to contact the convenors. José Antonio Cortés-Vázquez (Universidade da Coruña, Spain) volunteered to participate in this working group.
    1. Teaching: This working group is to develop concepts for teaching environmental anthropology to our students, for example by exchanging experiences, practices and syllabi. Additionally, it might work towards organising a joint intensive course or summer school. Also this working group has not taken off yet, but Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (University of Tübingen, Germany), and Alessandro Rippa (Rachel Carlson Center, Germany) came forward to take this on.
  • Report Workshop 2019 (Cologne)

The network’s inaugural workshop took place in Cologne, Germany, on December 12th and 13th, 2019, co-organised by the EnviroAnt convenors and Michaela Haug (University of Cologne, Germany). A motivated group of 60 registered participants (including 29 presenters) came together to discuss the theme “Perspectives and stories in a world of facts and figures? Exploring the potential of anthropology in tackling environmental issues.” Comprising three  keynotes and twenty-five Pecha Kucha presentations, the workshop provided opportunities for the members of the new network to get to know each other’s work, develop the purposes and strategies of the network, and plan possible collaborations. Presentations and discussions were grouped by three questions: 1) What can we contribute?, 2) How can we make ourselves heard/present? And 3) What are our future activities, inspirations and strategies? The programme is available and a summary workshop report can be downloaded at https://easaonline.org/networks/enviroant/cologne-2019.shtml

  • Outlook Workshop 2021

We discussed possible topics and venues for the next inter-EASA-conference workshop. It seems most likely that the 2021 workshop will take place in Tallinn, Estonia, co-organised by Aet Annist and local colleagues. We hope this can be an in-person event, but it might have to be held online if Covid19 conditions continue. Allessandro Rippa suggested that the following workshop (2023) might be organised in Munich, Germany, where he is based. Raj Puri (University of Kent, UK) reported that the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) is planning a conference on Anthropology and Conservation at the University of East Anglia for September 2021. The call for panels is due to be published in November 2020, and they would welcome a panel and/or other input from EnviroAnt. Since this year’s EASA conference is held online, the association is planning a series of smaller events for summer 2021 to happen physically in Lisbon, which may provide another opportunity for organising a small EnviroAnt session.

  • Online members’ directory

An initiative since the setting-up of the network has been to publish a searchable members’ directory on the network’s website. The convenors have circulated a google form on the listserv for members to enter their information. The convenors will find a way of publishing the directory and adjust its format to meet the needs of the membership and interested publics. However, this may not happen before either EASA has a new website with better direct editing access for network convenors, or the network has its own website.

  • Statute

Franz Krause presented the draft document with EnviroAnt’s Focus and Principles and put it to the vote. In spite of difficulties with using the Shindig voting system, a large majority of the participants voted in favour of adopting the document as the network’s statute. It will be published on the network’s website in due course.  

  • Elections

Elections for the network convenors for the coming two years were held using google forms for lack of a better alternative. The elections confirmed Aet Annist and Franz Krause as convenors, and also showed strong support for three new candidates who will join the convening team: Katrine A. Callander (University of Kent, UK), Alexandra Coțofană (Zayed University, UAE) and Arvid van Dam ( University of Leeds, UK).

  • AOB

Network members exchanged information on the many environment-related panels and presentations at the conference. Only two of them are officially marked as EnviroAnt network panels.

EnviroAnt Network – 2020 Annual Report

The 2020 Annual Report for the EnviroAnt Network has been filed with EASA. It provides an overview of the recent activities of the Network, including the inaugural workshop, the activities of the EASA Conference panels and business meeting in July 2020 and the newly selected convenors. In addition, it provides an update on the work of the Working Groups – media/messaging, teaching, publishing/grants, events and focus/mission. The full report can be found HERE

Do cultural capital and social capital matter for economic performance?

This paper proposes an empirical investigation of the impact of social relations, referred to as structural social capital, and cultural values, referred to as intangible cultural capital, on tribal agricultural production in New Caledonia. By using micro-data from an original survey on tribal communities, we construct a simultaneous equations model to explore the mechanisms by which cultural values and social relations interact with agricultural performance. 

LINK

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