An Introduction to Environmental Anthropology

Authored by: Helen Kopnina , Eleanor Shoreman-Ouimet

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Anthropology

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138782877
eBook ISBN: 9781315768946
Adobe ISBN: 9781317667964

10.4324/9781315768946.ch1

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Abstract

As so many of us are all too aware, we have entered the Anthropocene, marked by the large and active imprint that humans have made on the global environment. Environmental social sciences, and environmental anthropology in particular, have long focused on the interaction between human societies, cultures, and complex environments – both in physical and symbolic terms. Yet, as the world changes in response to the expansion of human presence and influence, a number of analytical frameworks, as well as ideologies, have been developed to address culture and nature in the era of human-dominated environments. As the contributions to this Handbook demonstrate, the sub-field of environmental anthropology is responding to cultural adaptations and responses to environmental changes in multiple and complex ways. Operating within a discipline concerned primarily with human–environment interaction, environmental anthropologists recognize that they are now working within a pressure cooker of rapid environmental damage that is forcing behavioural and often cultural changes around the world. As we see in the breadth of topics presented in this volume, these environmental challenges have inspired both renewed foci on traditional topics such as food procurement, ethnobiology, and spiritual ecology; and a broad new range of subjects, such as resilience, non-human rights, architectural anthropology, industrialism, and education. These studies are illustrated by intensive ethnographic case studies supported by ‘traditional’ anthropological as well as innovative and transdisciplinary methodologies in pursuit of a more ecologically holistic understanding of the human–environment relationship and perhaps even solutions to environmental degradation.

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