The Hub Community Garden Featured in the Star Press

Today the Hub Community Garden was featured on the front page of the Muncie Star Press. The project, which grew out of collaboration between students from Ball State University and local business owner Hans Heintzelman, is designed to encourage the development of green space in downtown Muncie and serve as a potential model for the community.

U.S. National Climate Assessment Released

The Third U.S. National Climate Assessment was released by the White House today. It provides an overview of the effects of climate change on a range of issues from agriculture and the oceans to human health and infrastructure. In a related note, the prominent climate scientist Michael Mann published an op-ed today in The Guardian today, reporting that Keystone XL pipeline project will likely fail to pass in the U.S. Senate based on the current estimate of votes. This should be a major victory for those who have opposed the pipeline project since its inception, especially Bill McKibben and 350.org. This could also represent a major turning point in U.S. politics with regards to climate change.

April Edition of Anthropology News Focuses on Climate Change

This month’s edition of Anthropology News focuses on climate change. I contributed a short piece titled “Managing Uncertainty in Rural Amazonia: Climate Change, Crop Diversity, and Social Networks.” Here’s the abstract: 

Most Amazonian smallholder farmers are accustomed to uncertain climatic conditions, often relying on traditional ecological knowledge and social network support to contend with the threats of drought and flooding.  Nonetheless, anthropogenic climate change presents unique challenges to Amazonian farmers and their resilience.  Between 2009 and 2010, record flooding accompanied by intense drought left devastating impacts on many smallholder communities in the Central Amazon, severely compromising production of even the most resistant crops, including the regional staple manioc.  Here I discuss the effects of these events on the production and management of manioc in communities along the Lower Madeira River in the Central Brazilian Amazon.  In doing so, I highlight both the vulnerabilities that farmers face and the mechanisms by which they respond to increasingly uncertain environmental conditions.  To conclude, I consider the ways in which anthropological research on agrobiodiversity management vis-a-vis climate change may serve farmers and policy makers alike.

‘Saving the Amazon’: Conservation, International Covetousness, and the Politics of Research

My latest article has just been published in Anthropology Today. If you’d like a copy, feel free to email me. Here’s the abstract:

Many justifications have been made for ‘saving the Amazon’ from preserving the ‘lungs of the world’ to protecting unknown botanical wonders that might yield cures to deadly diseases. However, Amazonians have responded to these claims with charges of ‘international covetousness’, interpreting such foreign interest as a thinly-masked desire to take control of the region’s natural resources. In this article I examine some of the counter-claims that have emerged in Brazil that reflect Amazonians’ uneasiness with such foreign interest in the region. Drawing from my own engagement with rural Amazonians, I share their critiques of the deep global inequalities that they see in conservation efforts and international research in Amazonia. To conclude, I discuss the value of ethnography and anthropological inquiry for encouraging grounded views of Amazonia that challenge abstracted notions of the region, including that of the monolithic rainforest in need of ‘saving’.