Introduction to Environmental Anthropology
How do different people across the world understand nature and act upon it? How does nature act back? What kind of knowledge do people have of the environment and how do they use it? This seminar will introduce anthropological perspectives on the interconnectedness between people and nature. Anthropology is a generous, open-ended, comparative, and critical inquiry into the conditions and potentials of human life in the one world we all inhabit. The environment is a zone of interconnectedness in which our own and others’ lives, including animals, plants and what we typically call nature, are entangled. Environmental anthropology is a field of study that learns from very different human ways of life, ways of doing, of knowing, of saying and thinking.
This is a critical thinking seminar based primarily on readings, discussions, short lectures and films. We will examine a lively collection of texts that draw on examples of human-environment relations in different parts of the world, which will help us understand pressing contemporary issues. For example: a classic study on how do slash-and-burn populations from the Central Highlands of New Guinea regulate the number of pigs and the entire ecosystem through rituals of communicating to spirits, or a text on mapping and counter-mapping, the production of forest maps in Indonesia, as systems of knowledge and domination and yet another text on what can mushrooms teach us about the contemporary human condition and global capitalism.
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