My research examines the history of indigenous organizing in the Ecuadorian Amazon. I am particularly interested in how it has been (and has not been) influenced by changing international development priorities (such as increasing exports of beef and petroleum, biodiversity protection, and involving women in development); other social movements (such as communism, indigenous pride, and feminism); and the changing economic priorities and policies of the Ecuadorian government. I am particularly interested in indigenous leaders and how they are working to shift the desires, aspirations, property regimes, and land use practices of their constituents.
In my research, I use a variety of methods to understand historical cultural change and changing land use patterns in the Ecuadorian Amazon. These include oral history interviews; extended periods of participant observation during the last fifteen years; text analysis of four decades' worth of written archives from indigenous organizations; and GIS analysis of aerial photographs and satellite images.
I teach both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in environmental anthropology, which allow me to illustrate to students several of the myriad ways in which culture and nature are mutually constituted. I also teach World Ethnographies, a university core curriculum class in which students read 5 full-length books that describe and analyze different cultures, as well as a few shorter pieces. In this class, they also learn how anthropological research is done, and how ethnographic methods differ from other types of research. Periodically, I also teach the Introduction to Anthropology course and the graduate seminar on Sustainable Communities. The latter is the core course in a graduate-level certificate program of the same name.
I serve as the department's representative to the Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee, which means that I facilitate the adoption of new courses, new majors, and new certificate programs in Global and Sociocultural Studies.
Indigenous Politics, Environmental Anthropology, Development, Latin America, Ecuadorian Amazon, The State, Governmentality, Property, Land Use Change, Integrating Ethnographic and Historical Methods with Remote Sensing