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Department of Geography


Natures, Cultures, Knowledges

Natures, Cultures, Knowledges

Understandings of nature are plural, complex, and divergent. In the Department, research into nature - and the way it is understood, experienced and engaged with - is diverse and draws on concepts from political ecology, science and technology studies, policy analysis, animal geographies, poststructuralism (including feminist and post humanist traditions), among other intellectual currents. Much of the work examines how different 'ways of knowing' are linked, oriented and embodied across a diversity of social, cultural and economic spaces, times and scales. A shared priority is, broadly speaking, to employ geographical analysis to reveal more equitable and sustainable pathways to negotiate present and future engagements with nature.

The research group takes as a starting point the appreciation of Natures, Cultures and Knowledges as fundamentally interwoven phenomena. Understanding of the value attached to different forms of knowledge and expertise, for example, helps us to understanding the power of metrics to set and regulate the terms of our engagement with biological life. Another strand of research includes how the study of non-human agencies provides new explanations for how political ecological dynamics play out in, for example, conservation settings and agricultural policies. The group also has strong research links to the 'Societies, Markets, States' and the 'Cambridge Cultural and Historical' Research Groups in the Department, as well as with the Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, and the Centre for Science and Policy in Cambridge.

Natures Cultures Knowledges

Research projects

Research projects being undertaken by members of the group show the range of research themes.

Group members

The Natures Cultures, Knowledges thematic group consists of the following members:

Convenors ( Dr Liz Watson, Dr David Christian Rose, and Marcus Nyman.

Professor Bill Adams The political ecology of socially constructed natures
Professor Ash Amin Urban sentience and human being; and resilient states and subjects.
Professor Tim Bayliss-Smith Agroforestry, intensification and social institutions in Melanesia
Dr Michael Bravo Indigenous ontologies; geographies of mobility; cultures of navigation
Dr Robert Doubleday Cultures and politics of technoscience
Professor Matthew Gandy Landscape, infrastructure, and urban bio-diversity.
Dr Philip Howell Animal geographies
Professor Nigel Leader-Williams Conservation policy and human-animal conflicts
Dr Emma Mawdsley Environmental politics in India
Dr Iris Möller Scientifically-informed coastal management; scientific underpinning of coastal ecosystem service, risk, and uncertainty assessments.
Dr David Nally The politics of global food provisioning
Professor Clive Oppenheimer Volcanic risk management and the human ecology of volcanic regions.
Professor Susan Owens Knowledge, expertise & policy; planning and the politics of sustainability
Professor Sarah Radcliffe Postcolonial cultures and subaltern knowledges
Dr David Christian Rose Research description to follow.
Dr Chris Sandbrook Political ecology; market-based conservation; role of evidence in conservation
Dr Ivan Scales Political ecology of resource use and environmental change
Dr Bhaskar Vira Political economy of natural resources, ecosystem services and development
Dr Piers Vitebsky Indigenous cosmologies and ontologies in the Arctic and tropical forests
Dr Liz Watson Coping with risk and uncertainty in the Horn of Africa

Meeting series

Circumpolar History and Public Policy Research Group (CHiPP)

Circumpolar History and Public Policy

Research in the Circumpolar History and Public Policy Research Group (CHiPP) aims to address issues of contemporary relevance to the polar regions by bringing together historical analysis and public policy debate.

The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle is a long-running group at the Scott Polar Research Institute for the informal discussion of research in progress on ritual, symbolism and the anthropology of religion worldwide, and its interface with theology, psychology and related disciplines. Participants and speakers include graduate students, senior scholars, and practitioners of religion and psychology.

Political Ecology Group

Political Ecology Group

The Political Ecology Group is interested in all aspects of the symbolic and material politics of socially constructed natures. Its interests span the industrialized and developing world. Some members of the group are active in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.