Interview with Keely Maxwell, General Anthropologist for the EPA

April 24, 2017

Veronica Davidov

This post is presented in this week’s series recognizing Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.

Keely Maxwell is an environmental anthropologist. She develops and applies interdisciplinary research to environmental problem solving. Keely has conducted research in the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary, Peru, and now works on community resilience. She is a former American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow, as well as a mom of two, and she works at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Disclaimer: Keely is talking purely in a personal capacity and not as a federal employee. She is expressing her personal opinion, not official EPA policy.


Tags: , , , , , ,

Anthropology, Social Science, and the March for Science

April 20, 2017

Andrew Tarter


This post is presented in this week’s series recognizing Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.

Anthropology has an unusual relationship with science. As scientist and anthropologist H. Russell Bernard points out in the preamble to his now-canonized Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches:

With one foot planted squarely in the humanities and the other in the sciences, there has always been a certain tension in the discipline between those who would make anthropology a quantitative science and those whose goal it is to produce documents that convey the richness—indeed, the uniqueness—of human thought and experience. (2011: vii)


Tags: , , , ,

The Afterlife of Coal

April 19, 2017

Andrew McGrath

This post is presented in this week’s series recognizing Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.

Coal mining communities in Appalachia have been framed as both victims and villains within the discourses of our emerging Trumpian late industrial narrative. Indeed, the US presidential election of Donald Trump has enacted an existential ratcheting up of the vitriolic moral divisions between “coastal elites” and “flyovers,” unhinged from the banality of previous circulations of those essentialist stereotypes. But a closer look past these inscriptions may reveal a different reality about the relationship between Appalachian coal mining communities and the environments in which they live, one that points to a more distributed agentive collusion between coal mining families, coal, and the toxins that augment the life of the matter within broader Appalachian ecosystems.


Tags: , , , , ,

Happy Earth Day from EnviroSociety!

Free Access to Journal Articles

April 17, 2017

Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center. The very first Earth Day celebration brought 20 million Americans to the streets to peacefully demonstrate for environmental protection.


Tags: , ,

Hope for “Just Resilience” on Earth Day

April 22, 2016

Nathan Jessee

This post is presented in this week’s series recognizing Earth Day, Friday, April 22.

This Is Trauma
“This is trauma,” suggested one facilitator as the sun set over a planning meeting for the Isle de Jean Charles band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe – Lowlander Center Resettlement held in January of this year. In a community space raised high above the banks of Bayou Pointe-Au-Chien, a handful of teenagers, adults, and elders from the Isle de Jean Charles band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe had spent the last hour sharing their experiences of storms, flooding, displacement, disrupted community, and racism mediated by environmental crises and the official responses to them.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Trouble with Bats

Valuing Urban Naturecultures

April 21, 2016

Jessica Caporusso

This post is presented in this week’s series recognizing Earth Day, Friday, April 22.

“Qu’est-ce qu’on va faire à propos des chauves-souris?”

What are we going to do about the bats?

I sit among a small cluster of locals and expats as we sip on coffee and soft drinks sweetened by locally grown sugarcane. We are crowded around a collection of bistro tables pushed together in the center of a busy café. The tropical sky overhead is clear, with not a single cloud in sight. No birds. No bats either.

They came for the bats—not to kill them. No, we are here to discuss ways of relocating the unwelcome creatures elsewhere. Elsewhere could be anywhere—just as long it was away from the towns, away from the orchards. In short, away from humans.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Kiribati and Climate Change

The Untold Story

April 20, 2016

Mike Roman

This post is presented in this week’s series recognizing Earth Day, Friday, April 22.

On 16 November 1989, Kiribati Minister of Home Affairs and Decentralization Babera Kirata addressed the general forum at the Small Island States Conference on Sea Level Rise in Malé Island. Highlighting his nation’s concern over the emerging greenhouse effect theory, he stated:

Over the centuries the question of rising in sea level was never heard of. Our ancestors had lived happily for centuries on our islands, without fear that one day, our beautiful homes may be lost as a result of the deterioration in the environment. We in this present generation have inherited those small islands and we are very proud to be owners of the beautiful homes, which our ancestors had secured for us … The ground water would easily become saline, making it impossible to obtain potable water, and agriculture would be destroyed. The plankton upon which fish live on will disappear, and the livelihood of Kiribati people, who depend on fish, would be seriously affected. The effect of rising in sea level, accompanied by strong winds and high waves would be disastrous for Kiribati. (Kirata 1989: 2–3)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Why Won’t “Overpopulation” (Finally) Go Away?

April 19, 2016

Robert Fletcher

This post is presented in this week’s series recognizing Earth Day, Friday, April 22.

The age-old specter of “overpopulation,” it seems, is back in vogue among environmentalists once more. “Our population,” writes celebrity biologist E.O. Wilson on the first page of his new book Half-Earth, “is too large for safety and comfort.” Celebrity economist Jeffrey Sachs agrees, arguing in his own new book on sustainable development that “our starting point is our crowded planet.” Meanwhile, in Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation, an eclectic collection of writers come together to “reignite a robust discussion of population issues among environmentalists, environmental studies scholars, policymakers, and the general public.” At the same time, the Foundation for Deep Ecology has launched a campaign called Global Population Speak Out, supported by a collection of evocative photographs, to explore “connections between the size and growth of the human population and key sustainability issues.” This focus has been reinforced by recent projections that the global population may reach nearly ten billion by 2050, revising previous assertions of an imminent level-off at nine billion or less. Despite decades of debate and concerted efforts to point out the problems in its framing, “overpopulation,” it seems, is squarely back on the environmental agenda yet again.

Tags: , , , , , , ,