Risky environments: ethnographies and the multilayered qualities of appropriation 
Sandy Toussaint (University of Western Australia)
Laurent Dousset (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)
Monica Minnegal (University of Melbourne)
Start time:
9 December, 2008 at 8:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel is focused on the anthropology of ecological risk. The convenors are especially interested in papers that integrate ethnography with theory. The aim is to explore complex processes of appropriation (for whom, when and why) in the field of human/environment inquiry.

Long Abstract

Humans everywhere experience the environment by physically and/or vicariously interacting with it in a range of culturally attuned ways. In an age when the implications of climate change, global warming and ecological risk are features of contemporary life, political debate, and scientific research, such interactions have increasingly intensified bringing with them familiar experiences alongside the added dimension of ecological risk. Anthropologists are regularly contributing to academic and applied research in this field, generally referred to under the rubric of human/environment studies. Within this sphere of thought and practice, research is often concentrated on the various ways in which people use, transform, make meaningful and/or privilege the ecological environments of which they are a part. By way of ethnographic examples, this panel aims to extend foci to broader epistemological issues that include attention to how these terms and concepts are constituted and claimed. Topics could include how, and to what extent, local responses to the 2004 tsunami have been appropriated, by whom and for what purpose? In what way has indigenous knowledge been adopted or refined when explaining people's positive, negative or dis-engaged responses to landscape transformation, such as when urban waste areas are re-constructed into tourist-friendly wetlands, natural environments are turned into commodities, forests are degraded by mining, and introduced species generate unanticipated stress? We are especially interested in papers that emphasise the value of epistemological transparency, and integrate theory with ethnography.

Accepted papers: