Ethnographies of Environmental Management

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM (MDT)
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Organizers: Lauren Drakopulos, Robert Anderson
Chairs: Lauren Drakopulos


This session examines the social and political processes at work in the management of ecological systems through the lens of ethnographic engagements with environmental and natural resource management. As “a research strategy used to understand how people create and experience their worlds” (Watson & Till, 2009, p. 121), ethnography draws on extended participation and/or observation in the field through which the researcher comes to make sense of the social practices of a community (Herbert, 2000). When used to study the management of (socio)ecological systems, ethnographic methods provide a means for excavating the epistemic cultures which structure “how we know what we know” about the environment (Knorr Cetina, 1999) and shed light on how scientific knowledge and practice are co-productive with law to underpin relationships of power and authority in environmental management (Jasanoff, 2004). Such an approach allows for in-depth, qualitative examination of the entanglements of scientific knowledges, environmental policy and law, and cultural practices that shape contemporary ecological management and decision-making.

This session explores what the methodological tools of ethnography, coupled with the analytical approach of STS, offer to critical geographers engaging with environmental and natural resource management. We invite papers that use ethnographic methods for critical interrogations of environmental science practices and knowledge/power assemblages in resource conservation and management. Topics may include but are not limited to:
• Critical engagements with the production of competing claims to scientific knowledge(s) and expertise in environmental management, such as through citizen science or, traditional ecological knowledge
• Management of hybrid geographies, “novel” landscapes and ecosystems, and techno-natures
• Environmental Big Data, practices and concerns
• Digitally mediated public conservation practices
• Surveillance as environmental monitoring practice
• Post-humanist or multi-species ethnographies

Herbert, S. (2000). For ethnography. Progress in Human Geography, 24(4).

Jasanoff, S. (2004). Ordering Knowledge, Ordering Society. In States of Knowledge: The Co-Production of Science and the Social Order. New York: Routledge.

Knorr Cetina, K. (1999). Epistemic Cultures. Harvard University Press.

Watson, A., & Till, K. E. (2009). Ethnography and Participant Observation. In D. DeLyser, S. Herbert, S. Aitken, M. Crang, & L. McDowell (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Geography. London; New York: SAGE.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Shana Hirsch*, University of Idaho, Adaptive Epistemologies: Conceptualizing Change in the Field of Ecological Restoration 20 12:40 PM
Presenter Catherine King*, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Emergence of an Ecosystems-Based Fisheries Management Intervention in New England's Marine Fisheries 20 1:00 PM
Presenter Silvère Tribout*, University of Grenoble, Antonin Margier*, University of Lille, Olivier Blanpain, University of Lille, Socio-technical innovations and sustainable rain water management: the importance of an ethnographic approach 20 1:20 PM
Presenter Nick Gill*, University of Wollongong, Natalia Adan, University of Wollongong, More than a Chore: The Pleasures of Weed Management in High Amenity Rural Landscapes 20 1:40 PM

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