I think we can expect more from anthropology of the environment. At The New School for Social Research last semester I went to an invited panel discussion – it was an all-afternoon event with panels of noted NY&nearby anthropologists grouped by topic of research. I went to two panels – one on finance, the next on environment. The thing that struck me was how specific the questions were for the anthropology of finance. The panel ended up being a substantive debate about the crucial topics for anthropological research on finance, what topics mattered most and how they might be approached.

The environment panel was less convincing, not for the quality of the work being discussed – the three panelists had lots of interesting things to say, especially about method – but because there was no engagement over the role of anthropology concerning environmental practices. There was no ‘anthropology’ at stake and similarly no ‘environment’ that could be specified as such.

So I think a real engagement on this question in the context of climate change could go a long way to making clear one possible focus for the anthropology of environment.

Advertisements