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Unsettling Environments: Conservation, Care, and Indigeneity in the Anthropocene Winter 2020

Cross-listed ANTH 16 / ENVI 17

Class Details

How might we think of killing animals as a form of care? How do narratives of ecological decline associated with the Anthropocene and climate change potentially exclude Indigenous perspectives? In this course, we will think critically about themes related to resource use and extraction, human-animal relations, and settler colonialism. We will unsettle dominant conceptions of conservation, call into question management models that marginalize Indigenous peoples and ways of being in the world, and explore how ways of relating to the more-than-human shape Indigenous and non-Indigenous responses to climate change and environmental degradation. Drawing upon theoretical works and ethnographic investigations within anthropology and American Indian and Indigenous Studies, as well as poetry and fiction, including the works of Indigenous and settler scholars and writers, we will examine how theorizations of and relations with animals, plants, and landscapes shape conservationist logics, resource management models, and understandings of what it means to “care” for land and the multiple beings that animate it. This course involves six hours of in-class work and an average of 20 hours of outside-of-class work weekly. The course will rely heavily on student preparation for class and student participation in small- and large-group discussions in class. This is an introductory course, and assessments will be weighted more towards students’ understandings of broader themes and questions rather than proficiency in any one school of theory or ethnographic locale. Students will earn their grades as follows: with one-sentence summaries and prepared questions for twelve of the assigned readings (once for each class meeting); as co-discussants for one class meeting; with one short take-home essay exam (750-1000 words); and with a final paper (roughly 3000 words) drawing upon ideas and comparative examples encountered in the course to analyze a current episode or event. Adjunct Bio: William Voinot-Baron is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation is an ethnographic examination of the ways in which salmon are central to both understandings and practices of care in an Alaska Native (Yupiaq) village in southwest Alaska, and the consequences of State of Alaska and federal fishing regulations for tribal sovereignty and well-being. He holds an M.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University and an A.B. in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 30
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: 10-page paper
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: seniority; students may be asked to send the instructor and email explaining why they are interested in the course
Materials/Lab Fee: approximately $80 for books
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:

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