Cultural Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers

Cultural Ecology Newsletter

(CEN #32 -- Fall '98)

Editor: Simon Batterbury

Last Updated: November 11th 1998

  • From your editor
  • Notes from the Chair
  • A Thank You
  • 1998 Netting Award goes to William M. Denevan
  • 1998 Student Paper and Field Award Winners
  • Meeting Reports
  • ...Request for Reprints: for "Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century"
  • Announcements
  • Members' news
  • Book Reviews

  • From your editor

    I would like to thank Bob Kuhlken for all his efforts in setting up and maintaining the Web version of the Cultural Ecology Newsletter in recent years. As Bob mentioned in CEN#31, he wished to step down as Newsletter editor and at the CESG business meeting in Boston there was only one volunteer (or, more accurately, one person was volunteered...) to take over CEN and the web site. I hope to continue the site much as before, although we have room for experimentation and growth; we can post draft papers for comment, reports on meetings, notification of publications, and more book reviews. I also hope to provide links to related Web sites, and to expand the range of course materials made available. Submissions are encouraged in all of these areas. Since the issue of the Group's name is often a source of debate, let me remind new members and our readers that the geographic variant of "political ecology", and related fields, is very much part of the Group's work, which spans the cultural, the political, and the ecological.

    I am currently teaching in the UK, after a spell at the University of Colorado, and there are few members of the AAG and only a handful of Group members here. In these days of email and Web access, my location should not pose a problem in keeping the site available and up to date for Group members, the majority of whom reside in North America and Australasia when they are not "in the field". I can't run an electronic discussion group from here in the UK (see Chairs' announcements below) , but everything else should run smoothly.

    cheers Simon

    Notes from the Chair

    Welcome to the Cultural Ecology Specialty Group (CESG) Newsletter. This is my first turn at the wheel and on behalf of our membership I would like to extend many thanks indeed to Karl Zimmerer, our past Chair, and his board for their fine work and efforts on our behalf. Simon Batterbury has kindly taken charge of the Newsletter and website (with help from Tony Bebbington) from Bob Kuhlken who has done a such terrific job over the past three years. Our new slate of Officers is also in place and we invite you to contact anyone of us with your queries, comments or suggestions for the group. At last count, CESG has 359 members, up about 20-30% over past years.

    Geographers had another record meeting at the AAGs last year in Boston, where over 2,400 papers were presented. CESG sponsored 15 sessions on themes reflecting the broad sweep of cultural ecology, from resource access, social change and environmental history to international biopolitics, human diversity and global sustainability. Of particular interest to many was a special session dedicated to the late James J.Parsons on 'Seeing the Americas Anew'. At our annual Business Meeting of the CESG, William M. Denevan (Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison) was honored with the Robert McC. Netting Award for his distinguished research and service that bridges the fields of geography and anthropology. Well done Bill! Hearty congratulations are also in order for our 1998 student awardees: for best student papers to Dan Klooster (Princeton) and Bjorn Sletto (Kansas); and for Field Study Awards to Robert Daniels (Illinois) and Eric Carter (UW Madison). We look forward to receiving submissions for the 1999 competition.

    Looking ahead, the Honolulu meetings are on the distant horizon and CESG will be there. The AAG has made 235 travel awards to support graduate students (of which 21 are CESG members) who be giving papers at the meetings. Some of the more prosperous Specialty Groups are also providing some support; regrettably CESG does not (quite yet) fall into this category. Let us know if you are organizing a session at the meetings so that it may be considered for sponsorship; this helps avoid conflicts across sessions of common interest to our group. For a list of CESG sponsored sessions to this date, see this issue of the Newsletter.

    Indeed, please do visit this website for the latest news. We are getting ever more requests to post calls to our Group for announcements (e.g., opportunities for employment or graduate study, new works in press, invitations, etc.) and all can be accessed by a quick click of the mouse. Some of these calls are urgent, like the one below from Tom Bassett and Karl Zimmerer for reprints to assist them in preparing their chapter on "Cultural Ecology" for the upcoming "Geography in America" volume, and we had to resort to a direct mailing to alert members. CESG would benefit greatly, I think, if our membership could meet "virtually" through an electronic discussion list. Our membership list suggests that a good majority of our group is on the net (84% have email addresses) and a list would serve us well. Volunteers who would be prepared to run a CESG list would be most appreciated. In the meantime, keep an eye on our website for the latest!

    Oliver Coomes

    A Thank You

    "This brief note is to express my deeply felt thanks to the CESG of the AAG for having chosen me to receive the first Robert McC. Netting Award. This honor has a special meaning to me because I knew Bob Netting well and admired immensely his studies in cultural ecology - in the high valleys of Switzerland as well as among the Kofyar of Nigeria and his more general methodological work. He truly saw no impediment to crossing disciplinary boundaries, wherever a research question took him. Again, I am pleased and grateful for this action by the Cultural Ecology Specialty Group."

    Philip W. Porter
    Department of Geography
    University of Minnesota
    (apologies for the late publication of this item, which Phil submitted last year - Ed.)

    The 1998 Robert McC. Netting Award

    The 1998 Robert McC. Netting Award for a lifetime of achievement in cultural ecology goes to WILLIAM M. DENEVAN, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

    A testimonial on Bill and his work is available by clicking on his name above.

    1998 Student Paper and Field Award Winners

    Student Paper Award

    The 1998 Student Paper Awards were made to Dan Klooster for a paper on Mexican community forestry (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, 5 Ivy Lane, Princeton, NJ. 08544-1013, USA) and to Bjorn Sletto (pictured)sletto (Dept. of Geography, The University of Kansas, 213 Lindlay Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045-2121, USA). Bjorn's paper, "The Changing Political Ecology of the Nariva Swamp, Trinidad", dealt with freshwater fishing and rice farming practices in the West Indies. Bjorn also received the 1998 Graduate School Summer Fellowship at the University of Kansas.

    Field Study Award

    From a pool of excellent applications, the CESG committee awarded two 1998 Field Study Awards to Robert Daniels (Dept. of Geography, U. of Illinois, 220 Davenport Hall, 607 S. Mathews St., Urbana, IL 61801, USA) and Eric Carter (Dept. of Geography, Science Hall, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA).

    Well done to the winners and all those who took part. These are annual awards, described here.

    Meeting Reports

    Joint meeting of faculty and students from Clark University and the University of Colorado, Boulder on human-environment research in Geography

    24-25th March 1998, Clark University, Worcester MA

    by Simon Batterbury

    Colorado faculty: Tony Bebbington, Simon Batterbury, Susan Clarke, Gary Gaile
    Clark Faculty: Doug Johnson, Dianne Rocheleau, B.L.Turner II
    Other faculty: Nayna Jhaveri (Washington), Brad Jokisch (Ohio), Paul Robbins (Ohio State)

    Clark - Emma Archer, Jennifer Brewer, Cecil Brownlow, Rinku Choudhury, Mark Duda, Christina Hamm, Eric Keys, Michal Kohout, Rheyna Laney, Paul Laris, Stuart Lorkin, Niel Manspeizer, Christine Mitchell, Bill McConnell, Susi Steinmann, Claudia Radel, Rachel Slocum
    Colorado - Jeff Bury, Jennifer Foster, Brian King, Adam Kolff, Elizabeth Pike, Andrea Ray, Al Stemp

    Keywords: cultural ecology, political ecology, human-environment relations, land cover change, global change, geography

    North American geography has moved away from closely defined 'schools' of thought linked to particular universities or key figures in the discipline. Nonetheless, clusters of research interests are still clearly visible in the major graduate programs. The Graduate School of Geography at Clark University has conducted research and graduate training on human-environment interactions for at least 75 years, and the majority of its graduates share interests in mixing and bridging the many substantive interests and philosophical perspectives of the sub-field. The University of Colorado at Boulder has a newer graduate program established thirty years ago, of equal size but greater breadth. Both institutions have faculty and students with core interests in the classical themes of geographical enquiry, and also in the 'middle ground' between human and physical geography. Both have leading representatives of cultural ecology and political ecology; two perspectives that are widely employed to understand the environmental influence on society, and the human impact on the environment. In addition, Clark is developing significant expertise in the study of global environmental change and its regional and local impacts. B.L Turner II, Dianne Rocheleau and Doug Johnson hold regular graduate seminars on cultural and political ecology themes. This year at Colorado, in addition to regular course offerings, a graduate class in the "Cultural and Political Ecology of Marginal Environments" was run by Tony Bebbington and Simon Batterbury [website - see ].

    Prior to the 1998 AAG meetings in Boston, the opportunity arose to bring students and faculty from these two schools together at Clark. The meeting was organized and driven by the graduate students and their interests, and it provided a chance for lively debate and reflection on the sorts of pressing issues of theory and practice that confront students and established scholars alike.

    The meeting was organized into six sessions. We began by discussing 'conceptual frameworks'; those terrible things that students are always being invited to 'explore' or 'develop' before being released into the real world to conduct doctoral research. Tony Bebbington (Colorado) and Dianne Rocheleau (Clark) helped frame the discussion. Tony told how his many years of research in the Andes have led him to consider the different forms of 'capitals' that rural people seek and deploy in everyday life. For him, the work of cultural ecologists, ecological anthropologists and others on local environmental relations - describing cropping, agrarian change, and so-on - may usefully be extended or 'scaled up' by considering how individuals band together in a variety of grass-roots organizations and regional federations. Such organizations reconfigure their relationship with the land, with higher order political structures, and with each other. Seeing such institutions as 'social capital' is a rather different view on local farming systems than the well-explored approaches of cultural ecologists since it implies a regional comparative framework, and perhaps less attention to ecological systems. But the approach is particularly appropriate if the concepts and ideas guiding one's research are to do with issues of development and social change. Dianne Rocheleau outlined several of the perspectives that have guided her own work in Central America and Africa over the years. Like Tony, she has moved from explorations of farming systems and ecological change, to areas of interest that are concerned more with human emancipation, access to resources, gender issues, and institutions - but in her case with a sustained use of 'systems ecology' concepts and ideas. This has required explorations at multiple levels from the field or the cooking pot, to the international political economy. The key issue, however, is that investigations are 'nested' at different scales and overlapping, and retain relevance to policy, as do Tony's studies of social capital formation.

    B.L.Turner cautioned us that geography as a discipline has a long way to go if it is to make major contributions in the 'wider academy'. Turner stated that we need to demonstrate more coherence and direction in our conceptual frameworks, rather than continue to promote a multitude of approaches for their own sake. Geography is guilty of importing almost all of its major ideas and concepts from outside the discipline - a strategy that other geographers actively encourage, of course - rather than creating them as an equal partner with other disciplines. Dianne saw geography as an intersection point 'between disciplines', which might explain both its theoretical eclecticism and vitality, and its problematic status in the wider academy. Tony argued that what really matters is that our work, and the concepts underlying it, prove important to the people who actually implement policy - not so much other academics, but bureaucrats and organizations that have the power to alter human-environment relations for better or worse. Here, he echoes the sentiments of the discipline's pragmatists - Bob Kates and Gilbert White. The relevance of human-environment research, is, for him, in understanding and contributing to the activities of policy actors and local groups. In discussion, many present did not see the 'state of the discipline' as a major problem (sorting out a dissertation topic and funding were, perhaps, occupying some peoples' thoughts rather more urgently!). Susi Steinmann questioned whether it is actually realistic to attempt to reform or influence the academic community or to search for academic legitimacy in this subfield. This was a point we came back to repeatedly that day - why does geography appear to be second-rate discipline in the wider North American academy, and is this the fault of our preoccupations and conceptual thinking? Or "are they all fools!" in the wider academy, if they cannot appreciate what fantastic work we are doing? Does it matter how we are received anyway?

    Next, we turned to examine the role of natural sciences in cultural and political ecology. What might appear to be a rather mundane topic generated much discussion. Dianne led off with the provocative statement that neither cultural nor political ecology consider natural environmental processes sufficiently - she restated her own approach as one that gives weight to both systems ecology, and political economy. She suggested that when we examine a forest landscape, we need to hone in or 'telescope in' on 'patterns' at multiple scales of investigation, and to explain them through an armoury of methods and entry-points afforded by our status as geographers. Geography, for her, is "a situated science in the material world, in soft-edged ecologies." The fact that things are complex in the places we are studying should not preclude us from explaining the genesis and content of these variegated landscapes. These have diverse species compositions, human uses, soil qualities, and so-on. Her methodological tools include many forms of participatory techniques to draw out lay-scientific knowledge, and model-building to explore ecologies. Simon Batterbury (Colorado/Brunel) reiterated the need to incorporate natural scientific investigations in the 'middle ground' of the cultural and political ecologists. His approach draws from the work of Bob Sack on place, and Piers Blaikie's regional political ecology models. His research on social and environmental change in Niger, conducted with natural scientists, adopts this framework. Land use decisions are explained partly by trends in soil erosion and soil fertility so these are being explored through environmental science techniques. It is impossible to provide solid accounts without exploring ecological dynamics across space and within scales; and we find that recent work on political ecology (the 'political actor' approach, for example) can diminish the importance of these dynamics, seeing them primarily as outcomes of politics. In particular, political ecologists have yet to fully engage with, or even in some cases actually read, the work of environmental historians. B.L.Turner questioned whether these types of analyses (eg environmental history), while useful, really constituted natural science at all; they were really only an explanatory form that highlights variation in the local ecology, and this was not the same as the collection of hard data on ecological characteristics. Being provocative, he suggested that we are too conservative - we need to stretch further to make good explanatory models that include natural processes, and have not done so because as geographers we are scared stiff of anything that smacks of environmental determinism. If we want to avoid saying that the "environment" influences social relations in a causal way then it is all too easy to focus exclusively on how social relations and politics impact the environment - the reverse causality - which is where political ecologists and political economists situate much of their work.

    Billie outlined his own thoughts on explanatory models in an afternoon session on 'scales of investigation'. Building on his landmark article in Ecumene * he showed how one job of the committed scholar of human-environment relationships must be to trace processes through scales; but this approach tends to be strong on narrative and weak on natural science. If you change the scale of your investigation, you change the 'answers' or 'processes' - but the world is not so complex that these data cannot be collected and analyzed at multiple scales and compared across cases to build robust understanding of land cover change, driving forces of social & environmental change, and so-on. His focus on scales yielded an insight. When tracing the impacts of, say, CFCs on the atmosphere, natural scientists can make causal links between local use of these chemicals and regional or global effects on the global atmosphere. These causal links are missing if we consider a social factor like class exploitation. We know it occurs at local, regional and international scales, but the effects of exploitation at one scale cannot be linked well and rigorously to another scale - the links are contingent ones only, even in the geopolitical literature. Thus, we have no capacity to predict or model across scales in the social arena, as we are beginning to do in natural science - we can only make what amount to 'inspired guesses' about the cross-scale effects of democratization, exploitation, and institutions. This reduces geography's predictive capacity and weakens it as a discipline within the scientific community. His most recent work is on explaining land cover change in Mexico though an array of 'driving forces' in the social and natural realms, and his team is attempting to model change through Markov chain analysis, among other techniques; Like Batterbury's work this is an inter-disciplinary venture. Gary Gaile (Colorado), whose work deals with a variety of economic responses and processes such as credit systems and city governance in Africa and the US, reiterated the importance of analysis conducted at multiple scales; but inter-scale linkages are, as Billie says, poorly understood and not well articulated in much contemporary geographical research.** It was clear from this discussion of scale that some in the audience were made uneasy by Billie's conviction that the social sciences lacked any mechanism to link, say, global capital flows to local livelihood systems, and that we can only make assertions or guesses about these linkages. To attempt to do so might return us to positivism, with all its flaws. Paul Robbins, for example, discussed how an array of dependent variables could be used to explain small patchworks in the landscape - these patchworks conceal the effects of natural, social, and particularly institutional histories - an alternative to the 'scale' approach, perhaps.

    The following day, fatigued from an excellent evening of Texan hospitality (and a re-visit to old and seedy Worcester haunts for the numerous ex-Clarkies at the meeting), the participants debated the role of institutions - those organizations, sets of rules, and human resources that sit at the 'interface' between structural aspects of the environment and of society, and 'agency' - the complex everyday events that occur at a particular place. Tony Bebbington led off with a concise summary of how geographers are now beginning to understand institutions, by drawing on the rather different models and ideas of theorists like Doug North, Jean-Philippe Platteau, and Robert Putnam. Their studies have taken 'institutional analyses' beyond individual and localized case studies, to a wider theorization of what institutions are for, what they do, and how they may be altered or improved to build community. Referring again to his interest in 'social capital', Tony showed how political ecology has followed this wider 'institutional turn', but its practitioners need to think much harder about the institutions that both change over time and are manifested at different spatial scales, since there are growing linkages in the worlds we study between governments, NGOs and farmer organizations, for example. An institutional focus to cultural-ecological work is not about just studying organizations like NGOs - but involves probing all forms of institutional arrangements to understand them and to highlight their actual and potential role as agents of progressive social and environmental change, particularly in a world where social movements and NGOs are so vital. Paul Robbins has, like Tony, adopted an institutional focus (like Dianne, also involving a healthy dose of ecology) in his studies of resource management in Rajasthan, India. For him, the key issues include how institutions (including the 'rules' of common property resource management) are agreed upon or rendered 'normal' by individuals and by the community, but also how rules have impacts on land cover and land use, exogenous social systems and regions, worldviews, and on other institutions. He finds much of the literature on common property management to be too static in its treatment of politics and institutional formations - a point reiterated strongly by Nayna Jhaveri (Washington) who finds the literature on common property resources as far too blunt an instrument in her work in China. A set of rules about access to grasslands are both created by local actors that constantly negotiate and transform these rules but (as in Tony Gidden's sociological theories of structuration), it is evident that this process also creates change in the 'exogenous' world of local government behavior, extension services, and wider 'discourses'.

    Institutions clearly fascinated the people at the meeting - understanding them is one of our current challenges. Not only does this blend with the work of institutional economics, but there are significant reasons to make them central to political ecology work as well. Paul wondered if the World Bank's current interest in 'social capital', ie boosting affinity networks at the local level - is part of a suspicious attempt to create manipulatable organizations that would serve as easy vehicles for their version of development, which increasingly involves 'decentralization' to the local level of decision-making and essential services. This type of neoclassical policy, we discussed, stresses the opportunities for local organizations to develop and grow, much more than it does the ever-present constraints working upon them. This suggested a tension between Tony's focus on boosting social capital, and Paul's focus on exposing constraints operating upon institutions. B.L.Turner provided another angle on this. For him, institutions emerge, in true cultural-ecological style, from environmental conditions (think of the classic case of the social institutions formed to manage the pig festivals in Papua New Guinea, for example). Yet Tony argues that social capital networks are partially autonomous from the local environment, since they are catalyzed by people like church leaders, returnee migrants, and educated locals, not just by the business of making a living from material resources. The tension here was between very different ways of conceiving the research process and the purpose of scholarship. One can look at institutions to understand certain environmental impacts and changes - as an input to Billie's studies of land use change in Mexico, for example, where one goal is to track relationships across places. Or, one can study institutions because they are vital to the 'development' of certain localities, as Tony does. The work of Dianne, Paul, and others in the room might fall somewhere between these positions. Dianne is interested in the variability of institutions themselves - since these influence differential resource access and landscapes. Paul is primarily interested in diversity, of institutions, ecologies, and symbols. Which returns us neatly to the beginning; tracking common processes across localities and scales might make us more visible as geographers able to contribute strongly to intellectual and even policy debates, but understanding complexity and diversity will never cease to absorb the many people who cut their teeth in the field looking at highly politicized and fundamentally complex natural, social, and institutional landscapes.

    The meeting concluded with a relaxed discussion of student research interests from the two universities. This was helpful, and showed that, if they exist at all, Clark and Colorado's intellectual 'traditions' are broad and ever-changing. As Emma Archer and Rheyna Laney explained, many dissertation projects at Clark are about tracking processes of land cover and land use change, particularly through the synthesis of a growing expertise in remote sensing and GIS tools with field study - as in Paul Laris's work on fire dynamics in agrarian systems, Bill McConnell's and Rheyna Laney's work in Madagascar, or in contributions to Billie's NASA project in the Yucatan. With the quality of GIS and imagery coming on so strongly in the last ten years, it is now a viable component in political ecology and the 'human dimensions of global change' field to which Clarkies like Turner, Kates, Kasperson and others helped to pioneer. GIS is (? even ?) used by those students with an overtly political or development-oriented research agenda. Its emergence, however raises many ethical and practical issues that we did not have time to discuss - and it surprised the former Clarkies present, who have tended to treat technical GIS/remote sensing work as marginal to their radical or detailed cultural-ecological studies, as recently as ten years ago. They are now having to train up, having missed the boat. The students stressed that a lot more was being studied at Clark on political and ecological issues than land cover change, such as Dick Peet's work with Mike Watts on 'liberation ecologies', Jody Emel's studies of nature and resources, and the critical environmental zones project (Roger Kasperson). The Colorado students have a home-base in a stunningly beautiful region of the US facing major development pressures and environmental threats caused by economic expansion, tourism, and energy consumption, leading several to adopt the tenets of 'third world' political ecology to topics in the US. Two students with training in the sciences, Elizabeth Pike and Andrea Ray, are studying the politics of resort development and water resource management in the West, aided by Bill Reibsame, Jim Wescoat and Gary Gaile. Others, including Brian King, Jeff Bury and Jennifer Foster, are developing projects dealing with under-explored themes in political ecology; institutional behavior of NGOs, transnational mining corporations, and urban development.

    This was an exciting and fresh approach to debating these issues - focussed, and potentially profitable for all - as one participant put it, "more useful that the AAG sessions they went to" (!). While its aims were quite modest and the pace of discussion was very brisk, much was learned by students and faculty alike. Who will take this idea on next? Madison meets Berkeley? Minnesota meets Rutgers or The Brits? Invite the anthropologists to destabilize our shaky theories yet further? Let us do this again, lest our current fascination with cooperative institutions in resource struggles does not now translate into a healthy concern to support each other across universities, to exchange views, to learn from different institutions, and to share a 'potlatch' bounty or two. Major thanks to all those who put in hard work to arrange this meeting and provide hospitality - especially Claudia Radel and B.L. Turner II - particularly at a time when Clark was busy hosting the AAG bandwagon.

    *"Spirals, bridges and tunnels: engaging human-environment perspectives in geography?" Ecumene 4 (2): 196-217, 1997
    ** See Political Geography 1998, v17 No1, where Kevin Cox and a number of other contributors debate 'scales of dependence, spaces of engagement, and the politics of scale' - but without reference to any of the abundant literature on scale by political ecologists, or ecologists!

    Request for Reprints: "Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century" project

    Important - Posted August 7, 1998

    From: Tom Bassett and Karl Zimmerer, to all readers

    We are writing to solicit your input to the writing of the CESG chapter for the new edition of Geography in America edited by Gary Gaile and Cort Willmott and to be published by Oxford University Press. The objective of this project is "to produce a significant assessment of our discipline in a high quality volume that is comprehensive, current, forward-looking, and representative." Our goal as authors of the CESG chapter is provide a comprehensive and unbiased account of the state of research in our Specialty group area. To do this, we need your input.

    The focus of our chapter will be on research published in the 1990s by CESG members. It would be very helpful if you can send us reprints or copies of your research publications for the period 1990-1999. You can send them to either Karl or Tom. We are working against a relatively tight deadline. Our manuscript must be complete by March 1999. Since we publish in a wide range of journals, your cooperation at this initial stage is critical. Of course, we would also be pleased to receive your thoughts on how your research contributes to the intellectual development of cultural (and political) ecological research.

    Geography in America should serve as a basic reference work and teaching tool. As the authors of the CESG chapter, we greatly appreciate your assistance in making our contribution as comprehensive and representative as possible.

    Please send your reflections and publications for the period 1990-1999 to either:

    Prof. Tom Bassett, Dept. of Geography, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 607 S. Mathews, #220, Urbana, IL 61801, USA. e-mail:
    Prof. Karl Zimmerer, Dept. of Geography, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53705, USA. e-mail:

    We look forward to hearing from you!


    Graduate Study at Macquarie University

    Enquiries are welcomed from persons interested in undertaking postgraduate research in Human Geography for Masters and PhD degrees. Contact Kevin McCracken, Head, Department of Human Geography, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia. Web site The Department has one of the largest groups of human geographers in Australia. One of the particular strengths of the Department is resource and environmental management. The Department is always keen to attract overseas students and would encourage anyone interested in researching in these fields to make inquiries. Overseas Postgraduate Research Scholarships (OPRS) are offered by the University, but these are limited in number, so intending applicants should also apply for other forms of financial support. The closing dates for applications are 31 October 1998 for starting in first half year 1999, or 31 May 1999 for starting at mid-year 1999.

    Job at North Carolina

    North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-3220, USA. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Department of Geography invites applications for a tenure track position, beginning Fall, 1999, for Assistant/Associate Professor. Successful candidate is expected to maintain superior records in research, teaching, service, and grantship appropriate to a major Ph.D. granting institution and should be prepared to contribute substantively to associated departmental emphases and to the discipline. Ph.D. expected at time of appointment.

    Position 2. Human-Environment Interactions (Assistant/Associate). The successful candidates research and teaching interests will focus on human/environment interactions, broadly defined, to enhance departmental emphases. We welcome interests in: cultural and political ecology; environmental perception, hazards and mitigation; human dimensions of global change; environmental policy and management; and nature society discourses, such as environmental aesthetics and justice. International perspectives are especially welcome. The candidate should also be comfortable contributing to emerging interdisciplinary environmental programs at the university level.

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest state university in the country and is recognized as one of the nations finest public universities, with many internationally recognized programs. UNC is located within the rapidly developing Research Triangle area of nearly one million people, with easy access to Duke, North Carolina State, and other campuses. Further, Chapel Hill has long-been recognized as one of the most attractive and livable university towns in the U.S.

    The Department of Geography offers BA, MA, and Ph.D. degrees, with most of the 45 graduate students pursuing the doctorate. We are a collegial, dynamic, and highly productive department of 17 faculty that has recently been targeted by the university administration for growth and development. The 1997 hiring of four senior faculty is complemented this year by the hiring of two junior faculty. A full time systems administrator supports the computing and communications infrastructure within the departments research and instructional labs and dedicated faculty labs for research, instruction, and outreach. Further, the resources available for professional development are considerable. Please feel free to contact the department chair, Dr. Leo Zonn (919-962-3877 or, for details about the department and university. Other elements of the department and university can be found on the home page:

    The formal review process will begin on December 5 and will continue until the positions are filled. The applicant should indicate the rank for which s/he is applying, and should submit a curriculum vitae, select publications, and names of four referees. A cover letter should include research and funding interests and intentions, as well as potential contributions to our program. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is an EO/AA institution and women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

    Apply: Dr. Wilbert Gesler, Chair, Human-Environment Search Committee. Phone: 919-962-3920; fax: 919-962-1537;

    Job at Maine

    MAINE, GORHAM 04038, USA. University of Southern Maine. Tenure track Assistant Professor, beginning Fall 1999. The Department of Geography-Anthropology seeks a geographer working at the intersection of culture and environment. The successful candidate will teach introductory geography courses and courses in human environmental studies. Interests in biogeography, climatology, cultural ecology, or political ecology are sought. The candidate selected will develop and teach upper-level courses in their area of specialization. The ability to teach a methods/skills course is also required. We need a person with an active research agenda and strong commitment to undergraduate teaching that values diversity and a supportive classroom environment. Ph.D. must be in hand at time of appointment. The Department of Geography-Anthropology is an interdisciplinary department and students earn a degree in the fields of geography and anthropology wherein the student may concentrate in either discipline with specified exposure required in the area of the other discipline.

    Review of applications will begin January 15, 1999 and continue until the position is filled. Apply: Send letter of application (including a statement of teaching interests and research agenda), curriculum vitae, your complete address (phone, email, fax, postal) as well as the names and complete addresses of three references to: Frank Hodges, Chair, Search Committee, Department of Geography-Anthropology, University of Southern Maine, Gorham, ME 04038, USA. USM is an Equal Opportunity Employer; women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

    Job at Austin

    TEXAS, Austin 78712-1098, USA. The University of Texas at Austin. The Department of Geography invites applications for an anticipated tenure track position at the rank of ASSISTANT PROFESSOR in ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT beginning September 1999. Should complement the Department's research and teaching strengths; for information on the program see the Department's web site at Should hold a Ph.D. by the time of appointment; may be appointed as Instructor if Ph.D. is expected to be complete within one year. Must have an established research record and agenda and show evidence of excellent teaching potential. Send letter of application, curriculum vitae, statement of teaching interests, and three letters of reference. Deadline 1 December, 1998. AA/EOE. Apply: Gregory W. Knapp, Chairman, Department of Geography, 210 W. 24th, #334 Austin, Texas 78712. e-mail:

    Job at Michgan State

    MICHIGAN, East Lansing 48824, USA. Michigan State University. Assistant Professor, tenure track, starting August 16 1999, for a PEOPLE-ENVIRONMENT GEOGRAPHER with a Latin American regional focus. Proven scholarship, relevant language competence and field research experience in Latin America, and emphasis on theory and analysis of people-environment interaction required. Application of contemporary geographic techniques to land use change analysis desirable. Excellence in research and teaching is expected. The successful candidate will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the regional specialty, cultural geography, people-environment, general education, and other areas of the candidate's interest. Applicants must have a Ph.D. in Geography at the time of appointment. Salary will be competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience. Please send curriculum vitae, pertinent publications, and a letter of application discussing research and teaching interests to: David Campbell, Search Committee Chairperson, Department of Geography, 315 Natural Science Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; phone (517) 355-1628, Email: (confirm with mailed original). Please arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent. Review of applications begins January 18, 1999, and continues until the position is filled. Michigan State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Minority and women candidates are encouraged to apply. Handicappers have the right to request and receive reasonable accommodation.

    Job at Yale

    This position offers an exemplary opportunity to a young scholar interested in bridging the social and natural sciences, theory and practice, and domestic and international environmental issues. Yale University, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 205 Prospect Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06511-2189, USA. ENVIRONMENTAL SOCIAL SCIENTIST: Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies seeks a junior-level social scientist, demonstrating a potential for international leadership, for a ladder faculty position. Candidates are desired who (1) have a record of innovative, problem-oriented scholarship on the contemporary relationship between social organization and the physical environment, (2) combine in-depth experience on particular questions regarding society and environment with broad-based conceptual skills and intellectual interests that offer the capacity to operate at multiple scales, and (3) demonstrate an ability to work with colleagues from other disciplines, in particular from the natural sciences. Possible areas of research include but are not limited to (1) community-based management of natural resources and protected areas, (2) environmental institutions, organizations, and movements, and (3) social equity and environmental conservation. Innovative approaches to methodology, and the linkage of theoretical and policy-oriented concerns, are highly desirable. Geographic focus is open but the capacity to conduct research both domestically and internationally is especially desirable. Candidates must demonstrate capacity for excellence in teaching and advising Masters and Doctoral students with diverse theoretical, topical, and geographic interests, and with both professional and academic career paths. Candidates may apply from a multitude of social science disciplines, but they must demonstrate both clear expertise within one of these disciplines and a capacity for interdisciplinary research and teaching. The appointment will be made at the level of assistant or associate professor (with term). Yale University is an equal opportunity employer, and women and minority candidates are especially encouraged to apply. Candidates are requested to submit a c.v. and a cover letter addressing the above qualifications, to Michael R. Dove, Chair, Social Scientist Search Committee, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, 205 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT. 06511-2189. Applications must be received by 12/01/98.

    Job at Syracuse

    Syracuse University. Full-time tenure track faculty appointment (rank open), effective Fall 1999. Ph. D. required although a doctoral candidate could be appointed contingent on completion of the Ph. D. by the time of appointment. Teaching, research and student advising in Environmental Geography with particular emphasis on environmental policy. The Department is interested in such specialties as international environmental policy, the environmental aspects of development, environmental justice, and environmental pollution and policy. Teaching a graduate level course cross-listed with the Maxwell School's Public Administration program is part of this appointment. The successful candidate will be a member of the School's Center for Environmental Policy and Administration. A demonstrated record of excellence in publishing, teaching, and advising is expected for appointment with tenure at the associate or full professor rank. Review of applications will begin January 15th, 1999 and continue until the position is filled. Syracuse University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Send a letter of application (including a statement of research plans and teaching interests), vitae, e-mail address, and three letters of reference to: Dr. Jacob Bendix, Chair, Faculty Search Committee, Department of Geography, 144 Eggers Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1020, USA. Fax: (315) 443 - 4227, Phone: (315) 443 - 2605. ABDs and new Ph. Ds.. must include graduate transcripts and samples of written work, which will not be returned.

    Encyclopaedia of Life Support Systems

    UNESCO announces the development of the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems. The section on "Anthropogenic Causes of Global Environmental Change." concentrates on aspects of global change concerned with both natural and social systems, including Global warming and greenhouse gases, Reduction of the ozone layer, Population dynamics, lifestyles, and consumption and production patterns, social, cultural, and economic factors, and Environmental changes resulting from agriculture and food production. Persons interested in contributing entries for inclusion in EOLSS are encouraged to contact James Eflin, EOLSS Theme Editor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306; phone: 765-285-2327; fax: 765-285-2606; for further guidelines. Identification of contributing authors needs to take place quickly to meet the publication deadlines stipulated by UNESCO. Remuneration of US$30 per 1000 words of contribution.

    Journal of Political Ecology(this the the world's only political ecology journal at present - Ed)

    The "Journal of Political Ecology: Case Studies in History and Society." JPE is a peer reviewed journal begun in 1994 that welcomes submissions in English, French and Spanish from a broad range of disciplines and hopes to encourage research into the linkages between political economy and human environmental impacts. It is provided free and supported by the Political Ecology Society (PESO). JPE is produced at the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology and is available through, as well as archived at, the University of Arizona Library, Tucson, Arizona. Paper reprints are available at all times and JPE's copyright notice allows multiple copies to be made. See for all details and back copies. The Robert McC. Netting Prize in Political Ecology (note: this is distinct from CESGs Netting Prize) is an annual $500 award for the best article published in the Journal of Political Ecology.

    Political Ecology Society/Society for Applied Anthropology Conference 1999

    The Political Ecology Society (PESO) invites organized sessions and individual papers to be presented in conjunction with the Society for Applied Anthropology Conference in Inn Suites Hotel, Tucson, Arizona, April 20-25, 1999. Abstracts due October 15, 1998 - see website at The general conference theme is "Constructing Common Ground: Human and Environmental Imperatives." Papers or sessions may engage in substantive analyses of case studies, investigations of policy and development-related issues, or theoretical and methodological concerns relating to the political ecology approach. In an effort to build an interdisciplinary political ecology, PESO welcomes contributions by non-anthropologists. Contact PESO Annual Meeting, Program Chair, Dr. William H. Fisher, Dept. of Anthropology, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187, USA. Tel. (757) 221-1068, Fax (757) 221-1066.

    Mapping the Millennium

    Mapping the Millennium. The 1999 Western Geography Graduate Student Conference. Seattle, Washington, February 5-7, 1999. Sponsored by the Department of Geography at the University of Washington. For details see The aim of the conference is to highlight the breadth of contemporary graduate student research of both material and cultural landscapes. Abstracts due December 9th, 1998. Keynote address: Cindi Katz. Fee: $25.00. Contact: Lara Davis and Carlos Tovares, Department of Geography, University of Washington, Box 353550, Seattle, WA 98195-3550, USA. 206-543-7793

    NSF Arctic Social Sciences Program

    The National Science Foundation's Arctic Social Sciences Program welcomes interdisciplinary social science research proposals on human-environment interactions in the circumpolar north. Other themes of interest include rapid social change and community viability. Target dates for applications are December 15th and August 1. For more information, please contact: Dr. Fae L. Korsmo, Program Director, Arctic Social Sciences, Room 755, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230, USA. Phone: 703-306-1029; fax: 703-306-0648.

    Members' News

    Karl Butzer, Raymond C. Dickson Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, Austin, was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. Professor Butzer's work has elucidated the relationships of paleoenvironmental change, resource availability, and human adaptation, and made important theoretical contributions to understanding the spread of early hominids, the origins of anatomically modern people in sub-Saharan Africa, and the co-evolution of early agricultural lifeways with their biotic resources. He is currently studying the environmental history of northern Mexico, including the Holocene record of soils and lake beds, and especially the last 450 years as partly documented archivally. Professor Butzer's contributions to cultural ecology, geography and archaeology are manifold, and are expressed in several key works including The Americas before and after 1492 (1992), Archaeology as Human Ecology (1982), Early Hydraulic Civilization in Egypt (1976), Environment and Archeology (1964, 1971), and Desert and River in Nubia (1968). Butzer joins eight other geographers as NAS members: B.L.J. Berry, J.R. Borchert, W. Isard, R.W. Kates, W.R. Tobler, B.L. Turner II, G.F. White, M.G. Wolman, and J. Wolpert. He is the fourth member of the CESG to receive this honor (along with Kates, Turner and White). Congratulations!

    Tony Bebbington, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder,, is spending the 1998-9 academic year as a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences, Stanford University, 75 Alta Rd, Stanford, CA 94305-8090, USA. Bebbington is only the fifth geographer (and the youngest) to be awarded a Fellowship in the last 15 years. This is one of most prestigious awards that can be granted to a social scientist or humanist. He is writing on Andean issues and human-environment interactions during the Fellowship.

    Michael K. Steinberg, Louisiana State University, has been awarded a grant from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration for a project entitled "An Ethnobotanical Survey of an Endangered Culture and Environment." His research is in southern Belize, with the Mopan Maya.

    Billie L. Turner II, Milton P. and Alice C. Higgins Chair of Environment and Society at Clark University, was elected and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in October, 1998. The American Academy is a learned society that recognizes achievement in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities and conducts a varied program of projects and studies responsive to the needs and problems of society. There are 3300 Fellows from the U.S.A, and 550 Foreign Honorary Members. Turner's election brings the number of geographers in the AAAS to ten. He joins Karl Butzer, Robert Kates, and Gilbert White as members of the CESG in the Academy. Other inductees in 1998 included Anthony Giddens, Lynn Margulis, Richard Leakey, and Immanuel Wallerstein.

    Gilbert F. White, Gustavson Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is working with a multi-country team coordinated by John J. Thompson (International Institute for Environment and Development, UK) on a re-study based on Drawers of Water (White, G.F, Bradley, D.J. and A.U. White, Chicago University Press, 1972). Thompson and colleagues have obtained funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Dutch Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS), and the Rockefeller Foundation. Drawers of Water was a seminal assessment of domestic water use and environmental health in in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The re-study will shed light on the long-term impacts of water and health interventions on local people's well-being and hygiene behaviour. The original sites have now been re-surveyed, with White participating in fieldwork. For details contact John Thompson ( or see

    Book Reviews

    All CESG members, and others, are invited to submit reviews of books that would be of interest to our Specialty Group. Publishers are invited to send books to the Editor, and willing reviewers are sought.

    Received for Review:
    Fairhead, James & Melissa Leach. 1998. Reframing Deforestation: Global Analyses and Local Realities. Studies in West Africa. London/New York: Routledge.
    A.Fiona.D. Mackenzie. 1998. Land, Ecology and Resistance in Kenya 1880-1952. Edinburgh University Press. 286pp. (an environmental history, focussing on womens' resistance to colonial efforts to enforce their participation in communal soil conservation projects).
    Mortimore, Mike. 1998. Roots of the African Dust: Sustaining the Sub-Saharan Drylands. Cambridge University Press. 237pp. (Mike compares the famous Machakos , Kenya, study of intensification under high population pressure and northern Nigeria where he has worked for 25 years. Covers intensification, market access and diversification themes).
    Laurens van Veldhuizen, Ann Waters-Bayer, Ricardo Ramírez, Debra Johnson & John Thompson (eds.). 1997. Farmers' Research in Practice: Lessons from the field. London: Intermediate Technology Publications. (Describes farmer adaptations, adoptions, and innovations in 17 short chapters).

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