ANTHY521-21B (HAM)

Environmental Anthropology

30 Points

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School of Social Sciences


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Paper Description

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This paper (30 points) concentrates on anthropological approaches to human-nature relationships. It explores the meanings people give to the non-human world and local ways of engaging with the environment, including traditional and indigenous environmental knowledge.Popular discourses of sustainability, environmentalism and conservation will be explored with a particular focus on the broader political and economic projects in which these are embedded. The paper provides a critical lens through which to understand contemporary environmental governance, for instance, the relationship between property rights, capitalist markets and resource management in fisheries and other extractive industries. The paper also equips students with an understanding of how anthropology can contribute to current environmental concerns such as climate change.

Linkages to other papers: ANTH 521 is also listed as a core paper in the Masters of Environment and Society

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Paper Structure

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This paper is taught through a weekly three hour seminar. Onus is put on students to complete a weekly set of readings outside of class time.


1. Great, up-to-date site, established by the journal Environment and Society:

2. Anthropology and Environment Society facebook site:

3. AAA Anthropology and the Environment site:

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Learning outcomes
    • Understand and critically evaluate the dominant theoretical approaches used in environmental anthropology
    • Gain an insight into the role and politics of indigenous resource use, traditional ecological knowledge, and resource conflicts
    • Gain an understanding of popular discourses used in environmental governance and be able to critically examine these
    • Appreciate the contribution of an anthropological approach to understanding, and mitigating, current environmental concerns
    • Develop and execute a research project within the disciplinary framework of enviromental anthropology
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Reading appraisals
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
2. Participation
3. Essay
27 Aug 2021
5:00 PM
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
4. Final Research Essay
15 Oct 2021
5:00 PM
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Week 2

July 19 Theoretical foundations


  1. Michael R. Dove, 2001. “Interdisciplinary Borrowing in Environmental Anthropology and the Critique of Modern Science”. In New Directions in Anthropology and the Environment, edited by Carole. L. Crumley. Walnut Creek, California, USAL: Altamira Press, pp. 90-112.
  2. Phil Macnaghten and John Urry, 1998. Rethinking Nature and Society. In Contested Natures. London, UK: Sage, pp. 1-31.
  3. Biersack, A. 2006. Reimagining political ecology: Culture/Power/History. In A. Biersack and J. Greenberg (Eds.) Reimagining Political Ecology. Duke University Press, 3-42.
  4. Tim Ingold, 2000. “Culture, nature, environment: steps to an ecology of life”. In The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. UK, London: Routledge, pp. 13-26.

Week 3

July 26 Traditional ecological knowledge


  1. Mondragón, C. (2004). Of winds, worms and mana: The traditional calendar of the Torres Islands, Vanuatu. Oceania, 74(4), 289-308.
  2. Arun Agrawal. 1995. Dismantling the divide between indigenous and scientific knowledge. Development and Change 26(3): 413-439.
  3. Miguel Alexides. 2009. “The cultural and economic globalisation of traditional environmental knowledge systems.” In Landscape, Process and Power: Re-Evaluating Traditional Environmental Knowledge, edited by Serena Heckler, Berghahn books, pp. 19-67.
  4. Dove, M.R., 2006. Indigenous people and environmental politics. Annu. Rev. Anthropol., 35, pp.191-208.

Week 4

August 2 local resource use and environmentalism


  1. Peter Brosius, 1999. Analyses and Interventions: Anthropological Engagements with Environmentalism. Current Anthropology 40(3): 277-309.
  2. Robin Grove-White. 1993. Environmentalism: A New Moral Discourse for Technological Society? In K. Milton, ed. Environmentalism: The View From Anthropology. London, Routledge, pp. 1-17.
  3. Paul Nadasdy, 2005. Transcending the debate over the ecologically noble Indian: Indigenous Peoples and Environmentalism. Ethnohistory52(2): 291-332.
  4. Niels Einarsson, 1993. "All animals are equal but some are cetaceans." Environmentalism: The view from anthropology: 73-84.

Week 5

August 9 Precarity, risk and farming.


  1. Ofstehage, A. (2020). Farming. Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology.
  2. O'Connell, C., Motallebi, M., Osmond, D. L., & Hoag, D. L. (2017). Trading on risk: The moral logics and economic reasoning of North Carolina farmers in water quality trading markets. Economic Anthropology, 4(2), 225-238.
  3. Stensrud, A. B. (2019). Safe milk and risky quinoa: The lottery and precarity of farming in Peru. Focaal, 2019(83), 72-84.

Week 6

August 16 Cultural landscapes and ecologies


  1. Stuart McLean, 2003. “Céide Fields: Natural Histories of a Buried Landscape”. In Landscape Memory and History: Anthropological Perspectives, edited by P. Stewart and A. Strathern. London, UK: Pluto Press, pp. 47-70.
  2. Case, E. (2019). I ka Piko, To the Summit: Resistance from the Mountain to the Sea. The Journal of Pacific History, 54(2), 166-181.
  3. Kearney, A., Bradley, J., & Brady, L. M. (2019). Kincentric Ecology, Species Maintenance and the Relational Power of Place in Northern Australia. Oceania, 89(3), 316-335.
  4. Rose, D., 2005. An indigenous philosophical ecology: situating the human. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 16(3), pp.294-305.

Week 9

Sep 6 Sustainability, Conservation and Protected areas


  1. Brightman, M., & Lewis, J. 2017. Introduction: the anthropology of sustainability: beyond development and progress. In The Anthropology of Sustainability (pp. 1-34). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
  2. Nicole Peterson, 2015. Unequal sustainabilities: The role of social inequalities in conservation and development projects. Economic Anthropology 2(2): 264-277.
  3. Jim Igoe. 2010. "The spectacle of nature in the global economy of appearances: Anthropological engagements with the spectacular mediations of transnational conservation." Critique of Anthropology 30 (4): 375-397.
  4. Paige West, James Igoe, and Dan Brockington. 2006. Parks and peoples: the social impact of protected areas." Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 35 (2006): 251-277.

Week 10

Sept 13 Multi-species ethnography

  1. Kirksey, S.E. and Helmreich, S., 2010. The emergence of multispecies ethnography. Cultural anthropology, 25(4), pp.545-576.
  2. Radhika Govindrajan, R. 2015. “The goat that died for family”: Animal sacrifice and interspecies kinship in India's Central Himalayas. American Ethnologist, 42(3), 504-519.
  3. Goldberg-Hiller, J., & Silva, N. K. (2011). Sharks and pigs: animating Hawaiian sovereignty against the anthropological machine. South Atlantic Quarterly, 110(2), 429-446.
  4. Chao, S. (2019). The plastic cassowary: Problematic ‘pets’ in West Papua. Ethnos, 84(5), 828-848.

Week 11

Sept 20 The Rights of Nature

  1. Murat Arsel. 2012. Between Marx and Markets. The state, the left turn and nature in Ecuador. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie (Journal of Economic and Social Geography), 103(2), 150-163.
  2. Anne Salmond, 2014. Tears of Rangi: Water, power, and people in New Zealand. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 4(3), 285-309.

Week 12

Sept 27 Saltwater environments


  1. Helmreich, Stefan. 2011. "Nature/culture/seawater." American Anthropologist 113, no. 1: 132-144.
  2. McCormack, Fiona. (2018). Māori Saltwater Commons. Commoning Ethnography, 1(1), 9-31.
  3. Kearney, Amanda. "Returning to that which was never lost: Indigenous Australian saltwater identities, a history of land claims and the paradox of return." History and Anthropology 29, no. 2 (2018): 184-203.
  4. McCormack, Fiona, and Jacinta Forde. "Fisheries." In Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Anthropology. 2019.

Week 13

Oct 4 The Anthropocene and climate change


  1. Donna Haraway, D, 2015. Anthropocene, capitalocene, plantationocene, chthulucene: Making kin. Environmental Humanities, 6(1), 159-165.
  2. Andreas Malm and Alf Hornborg. "The geology of mankind? A critique of the Anthropocene narrative." The Anthropocene Review 1, no. 1 (2014): 62-69.
  3. Amelia Moore "Anthropocene anthropology: reconceptualizing contemporary global change." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute22, no. 1 (2016): 27-46.
  4. Rudiak-Gould, P. (2012). Promiscuous corroboration and climate change translation: A case study from the Marshall Islands. Global Environmental Change, 22(1), 46-54.
  5. Susan Crate. 2011. "Climate and culture: anthropology in the era of contemporary climate change." Annual Review of Anthropology 40: 175-194.
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Other Resources

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1. Great, up-to-date site, established by the journal Environment and Society:

2. Anthropology and Environment Society facebook site:

3. AAA Anthropology and the Environment site:

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Online Support

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This paper is supported by moodle. You will find additional readings, assignment guidelines and other material of relevance under weekly topics.
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This is a 30pt graudate paper, which is the equivalent to 300 hours of study during the semester.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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ANTH 521 is also listed as a core paper in the Masters of Environment and Society
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Anthropology undergraduate degree or equivalent.




Restricted papers: ANTH521

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