Presently, the world has increasingly been characterised by anxieties that are best thought of as existential crises. Climate change and all the associated effects such as natural disasters, shifts in weather that impact food production, warming of the planet bring into focus the frailty of the society we have built as humans globally. In search of solutions, some have turned their gaze to the indigenous and the world of the ‘other’ since the blame for the current crisis is laid firmly at the door of Global Capital. In this course we give attention to that other world that has for millennia lived in concert with nature and we distil lessons for the present crisis from these European elsewheres. The module introduces students to anthropological ways of knowing nature and contributions toward studies of the environment through an interdisciplinary focus.
Students will situate themselves within this larger debate and action linked to the environment by firstly engaging with key concepts in environmental anthropology that can help shift perspectives and challenge accepted ‘ways of doing things’. The course introduces unique debates in environmental anthropology that challenge the sovereignty of science. It moves on to situate these debates within contexts to highlight to students that there are radically different ways of seeing and living within our global (human and other) environments. Students will explore conceptual frameworks alongside practical demonstrations of environmental anthropology research methods.
Therefore, the course also highlights the continued value of ethnography as a tool that documents, among other things, the texture of human and other lives. Further, we promote a new ethnography that does not merely take account of a human—that is an anthropocentric world- but a world where the ethnographic illuminates all connected worlds, the world of plants, animals, things and matter and even spirit. In this opening up of ethnographic potential, we hope to impart to students a critical perspective that allows them to see the world and its current ‘crisis’ as a problem that has the implied solutions already present in the world shown to us through ethnographies of the European elsewhere.