Nature and environmental change

Since anthropology’s infancy, it has been recognized that nature and natural resources are at the base of human livelihood. The founding fathers in early 20th century went at great length to present the gardens, the rivers, the oceans, or the pastoral lands that shaped and sustained social life in particular places. This fell into the background over the next generations, centring their efforts at understanding social life as such, and relegating nature and its affordances to being just a backdrop to social life.

Nature and environmental change

In the 21st century this has again changed considerably. Recognizing the immense impact of humans upon the general living conditions on the Earth for all kinds of species, a concerted effort has been made to analyse the ways in which nature and society are implicated in each other. With this dichotomy destabilized, anthropologists are now seeking to understand how ‘environments’ are constantly being (re-) defined in opposition to changing social worlds – as that which people must temporarily seek keep still, to assess their potential for resources or threats.

The researcher group on Nature and Environmental Change seeks to understand the dynamics of environments in this sense, seeing it as a global field of concern with deep social, material, economic and political implications on a variety of scales.





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