Category Archives: Resources

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. 

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.

Published in 2020: 20 selected books in Environmental Anthropology

Surely, 2020 has been a strange year. But while much of social and cultural life was disrupted globally, this did not stop quite a number of fascinating books in environmental anthropology from being published. The environment–including a myriad of themes such as multispecies relations, landscape transformation, resource extraction, waste, pollution, wildlife conservation, climate adaptation, and disasters–has been a growing topic of interest to anthropologists. The selected 15 ethnographies and 5 edited volumes listed here (in no particular order) represent some of this exciting trend.

Read more