Contemporary Issues in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobotany - SE990

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 15 (7.5)







This module seeks to critically and dynamically explore the diverse, complex and dynamic nature of human-environmental interactions, including associated knowledge and practices. By engaging with recent debates and case studies from different regions it seeks to critically assess, compare and contrast some of the key contemporary, at times controversial, debates that engage collaborators, colleagues and critics from diverse academic specialties and perspectives. Through the use of lectures, class discussions and student-led seminar discussions on specific papers it seeks to review and compare some of concepts and approaches used to research, analyze and theorise the material, symbolic, historical, political dimensions of human-plant and human-environment relations. It also seeks to assess how such an understanding can better guide our attempts to address the complex socio-environmental problems facing our world and our future.


This module appears in:

Contact hours



Spring Term

Method of assessment

The module is assessed by 100% coursework.
70% for a 2000 word essay on a question to be decided in consultation with the convenor of the module based on topics covered in the module; 15% for leading or co-leading a seminar (45 minutes); and 15% for class participation.

Indicative reading

Agrawal, A. 2003. Sustainable governance of common-pool resources: context, methods, and politics. Annual Review of Anthropology 32: 243-62.
Alexiades, M. N. (ed.) 2009. Mobility and Migration in Indigenous Amazonia: Contemporary Ethnoecological Perspectives. Oxford: Berghahn.
Anderson, D.G. and E. Berglund (eds.) 2003. Ethnographies of Conservation: Environmentalism and the Distribution of Privilege. London: Routledge.
Greenberg, J.B. et al. (eds.) Reimagining political ecology. Durham: Duke University Press.
Heckler, S. (ed.) Landscape, process and power: re-evaluating traditional environmental knowledge. New York: Berghahn Books.
Berkes, F. et al. (eds.) Navigating social-ecological systems: building resilience for complexity and change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module MA/MSc students will be able to:
1) Understand how some of the key contemporary issues in Ethnobotany are being theorized and appreciate how these new approaches
have either grown out of, or as a reaction against, past approaches
2) Critically analyze and debate the broader theoretical, social, political and ethical issues surrounding human-plant interactions
3) Use key recent books and peer-reviewed articles to provide the most up-to-date perspectives on contemporary issues in ethnobotany and
environmental anthropology
4) Demonstrate knowledge of key case studies from around the world that illustrate some of the challenges and difficulties of carrying out
research and applied projects on the relationships between people and plants
5) Plan and complete their own independent research projects at various field locations, and leave the MSc program with a working
knowledge of the current debates an controversies in the multidisciplinary field of ethnobotany

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