Cultures of Biodiversity: Perceptions and Practices (completed)

There seems to be a general agreement that the biodiversity is threatened globally, and that this threat primarily derives from various specific human activities. Within this project umbrella we wish to focus on two main areas for investigation: water, marine fauna and flora on the one hand and land and forests on the other. In both cases human ideas and values regarding the natural environment are given pivot center of attention.

Bath in the light. Photo: Martin Gommel, flickr

About the project and research objectives

As anthropologists, we are interested in generating knowledge that is based on fieldwork and that has a comparative dimension. We are envisaging the project in a comparative mode bringing together empirical studies from tropical rain forests and the Arctic; from highly industrialized western nations to hunter-gatherers; from local as well as global agencies. The interplay between local and global processes (economic, political, ecological and discursive) will be central. Analysis of the empirically derived data will be conducted through complementary and not one overarching theoretic position. Some of the questions we shall explore are:

  • From what ontological principles is the “natural” world constructed and how do people perceive their physical environment cross-culturally?
  • What kinds of categorizations of natural kinds are done, and how are the various categories evaluated?
  • For what reasons are biodiversity and restoration ecology promoted and who are in a position to define for instance what endemic and intrusive species to a given environment are?
  • To what extent do various groups of people (e.g. local resource users, professional managers, scientists, national and international politicians, environmentalists, NGOs) share - or not – the notion of biological diversity, and how do they interact in the planning and execution of actual environmental projects?
  • How do people understand climate changes in their own locality?
  • How is the concept of biodiversity used in political rhetoric and discourse?
  • How can we improve our understanding of the interrelationship between people’s perceptions of nature and their own praxises and thus contribute to a more sustainable utilization of natural recourses?

Participants and subprojects:

Sub-project A: Signe Howell: “A comparative anthropological study of UN-REDD”  (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation)  

Sub-project B : “Religion and biodiversity”

Sub-project C: Sarah Lund “Industrial Farming in the Upper Midwest (USA): a Contrasting Case”

Sub-project D: Harald B. Broch “Frontier islands towards the open ocean: Biodiversity and community resilience in a North Norwegian coastal community“

Sub-project E: Rune Flikke, Knut Nustad”The creation of postcolonial nature in South Africa”

Sub-project F: Anne-Katrine Norbye “Innovative traditions in the summer mountain dairy farms (støler/setre) in Norway and Austria”

Published Feb. 15, 2011 4:32 PM - Last modified Dec. 8, 2015 1:51 PM