1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Environment and Political Ecology

Anthropology has concerned itself with relationships between humans and the environment since its very beginnings in the 19th century. The schemes and questions anthropologists have generated in order to grasp those relationships have varied over time, from early presumptions of environmental determinism, to growing concerns with the modernist hubris that people can do anything they want anywhere they please, to studies that consider society/nature relations across different temporal and spatial scales. The timelines of interest to us vary from the temporalities of specific social practices –the organization of fallow systems, the circulation of capital—to changing society forms across the Holocene. Spatial concerns run from household forms to continental influences on societal structures. Contained in this variation run interests from understanding the modern hubris that moves mountains and imagines geo-engineered solutions to every environmental problem, all without significant social consequences; to patterns of society/nature relations, conceived to be mutually constituting, whose social consequences are precisely the point.