Environmental Anthropology - SACO8960

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 7 15 (7.5) Rajindra Puri checkmark-circle


This module introduces some of the main theoretical approaches and some practical applications of the study of environmental anthropology (in particular, cultural ecology, systems and symbolic ecology, historical and political ecology, and new approaches such as spiritual ecology and multispecies ethnography).

We consider some of the main cultural and social aspects of the human-environment interface, such as
• the relationship between social organisation, culture and ecology
• alternative forms of land use and management
• the impact of processes of globalization on human interactions with the environment in a number of non-western societies
• the cultural dimension of human adaptation to a changing environment.

The middle section of the module looks at five categories of subsistence strategy and the environments they occur in:
• foraging and hunting (in arid, arctic and tropical forest ecosystems)
• fishing (coastal marine environments)
• pastoralism (in grassland and arid ecosystems)
• low intensity and high intensity agriculture (in arid, grassland and tropical environments).

For each of these production systems we will also examine a complementary contemporary issue in conservation and/or development. These issues may involve great debates in theory, problems of methodology or issues in applying research results to solve practical problems.

Throughout the module we address methods and problems of applying research in environmental anthropology to related development, conservation and human rights issues, and in particular we look at adaptation to climate change among Indigenous peoples.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 24
Private study hours: 126
Total study hours: 150


Compulsory to the following courses:
MSc Ethnobotany

Optional to the following courses:
MA Social Anthropology: Humanitarian and Environmental Crises
MA Environmental Leadership

Also available as an elective module.

Method of assessment

• Essay (2500 words) (65%)
• Presentation (10%)
• VLE quiz (25%)

Reassessment method: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages (https://kent.rl.talis.com/index.html).

• Barnes, J. and M. Dove, 2015. Climate Cultures. Yale U Press.
• Cepek, M. 2018. Life in Oil: Cofan survival in the Petroleum Fields of Amazonia. Texas.
• Dove, M. 2021. Bitter Shade: The Ecological Challenge of Human Consciousness. Yale.
• Dove, M.R and Carpenter, C. 2007. Environmental Anthropology: A Reader. Routledge.
• Ellen, R. 2020 Nature Wars. Env. Anth and Ethnobiology Series. 27. Berghahn Books.
• Kopnina, H. and E. Shoreman-Ouimet, 2011. Environmental Anthropology Today. Routledge.
• Raygorodetsky, G., 2017. Archipelago of Hope. Pegasus Books.
• Tsing, A, et al., 2017. Arts of living on a damaged planet. Minnesota U Press.
• Vaughan, M. 2018. Kaiaulu: Gathering tides. OSU Press.

Learning outcomes

Subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module you will be able to:
1. identify historical theoretical and applied problems in environmental anthropology
2. discuss critically the themes, debates and trends in environmental anthropology
3. discuss critically a range of classic ethnographic case studies

Generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module you will be able to:
1. express ideas in writing and orally
2. interpret texts and performance by locating them within appropriate cultural and historical contexts
3. identify and analyse the significance of the social and cultural contexts of natural resource use
4. appraise the value of substantive findings in environmental anthropology.
5. compare and contrast different theoretical approaches to the understanding of human-environment relationships
6. construct abstract arguments at a high level of sophistication


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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