Environmental Anthropology - SE896

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
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7 15 (7.5) DR R Puri







This module introduces some of the main theoretical approaches and some practical applications of the study of environmental anthropology (in particular, the cultural ecology of Steward, the concepts of carrying capacity and limiting factors as used in eco-systematic models, historical and political ecology, and new approaches deriving from post-modern anthropology). It considers some of the main cultural and social aspects of the human-environment interface, such as the relationship between social organisation 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; and the cultural dimension of human adaptation to the 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 this year we look at adaptation to climate change among Indigenous peoples.


This module appears in:

Contact hours



Autumn Term

Method of assessment

Assessment for this module is by 100% coursework, which will consist of one 3000 word essay

Indicative reading

Bates, D. G., 2001. Human Adaptive Strategies: Ecology, Culture and Politics, Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Crumley, C., ed. 2001. New Directions in Anthropology and Environment. Altamira Press.
Dove, M.R and Carpenter, C. 2007. Environmental Anthropology: A Reader. Routledge.
Ellen, R. F. 1982. Environment, Subsistence and System. The Ecology of Small-Scale Social Formations. Cambridge.
Hardesty, D.L. 1977. Ecological Anthropology. New York: John Wiley And Sons.
Moran, E.F. 2000. Human Adaptability. 2nd Edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Moran, E.F. 2006. People and Nature: An introduction to human ecological relations. Blackwell.
Sutton, Mark and Eugene Anderson, 2004. Introduction to Cultural Ecology. Berg.
Townsend, P., 2001. Environmental anthropology. From Pigs to Policies. Waveland Press.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module MA/MSc students 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

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