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NCK

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

Applying social science to making ecosystem service assessments accessible for greater policy impact

Applying social science to making ecosystem service assessments accessible for greater policy impact

Managing our future environment sustainably requires us to understand the link between nature and human well-being. This underpins the ecosystem services (ES) concept – the value of nature through the benefits it provides to people. As part of a consortium of experts from the University and NGOs, the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU) has helped develop a 'Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessments' (TESSA): guidance and practical methods for assessing ES values at the site-scale to inform decision-making.

Ghost Species: Geographies of Absence and Extinction

Ghost Species: Geographies of Absence and Extinction

What does it mean to be a 'ghost species'? This project explores the idea that there is a spectre haunting conservation policies in the twenty-first century: the spectre of absence. Drawing on the recent 'spectral turn' in the humanities and social sciences, this project brings something new to debates about extinction, de-extinction, and restoration.

Social Relations between Humans and Other Animals in Victorian Britain

Social Relations between Humans and Other Animals in Victorian Britain

This project is conceived as a contribution to the 'animal turn' in Geography: that is, a reconsideration of the intertwined geographies of humans and animal relations. This project concerns a particular aspect of human-animal relations: the development of practices of pet keeping in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Marginal as pet keeping might seem to the great narratives of social and political development in the modern era, its history and geography can be used to analyse the nature of the modern city and modern society. The project will assert the significance of these affective and material relations, to explore their significance and their ramifications down to our own day.

The Political Economy of Water Security, Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods in the Western Himalayas

The Political Economy of Water Security, Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods in the Western Himalayas

This project aims to study the ways in which small towns in hill and mountain regions of South Asia depend on springs, streams and rivers in their surrounding catchments for the supply of water.

ORHELIA: 'Oral History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic'

ORHELIA: 'Oral History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic'

The Orhelia project develops a comparative history of relations between remote people and states in the eyes of Arctic indigenous elders, by using the method of life history analysis and oral history fieldwork combined with anthropological participant observation. Doing so, the project will also contribute to preserve incorporeal cultural heritage among Uralic speaking northern minorities of Europe and study the transmission of historical heritage between different generations.

Spectral Geographies of Arctic Exploration

Spectral Geographies of Arctic Exploration

People from western cultures who visit the Arctic enter places that have been imagined as somehow ghostly and dreamy. Ice, wilderness, and sublime register as keywords in a Eurocentric vocabulary that continues to inform how we think about what is Arctic and what is not Arctic. Why is this? and where do these ‘spectral geographies’ come from? This project takes seriously material histories of the apparently immaterial – dreams and reveries of air, earth, water, and the ghosts that haunt the Arctic.

The difference a species makes: converting to camels in northern Kenya

The difference a species makes: converting to camels in northern Kenya

The aim of this research is to examine what happens when the pastoralists of northern Kenya replace one animal (a cow), with another, more drought resistant one (a camel). A 'shift' to camels has become increasingly common over the past ten-twenty years, and has been understood by observers as 'a means to build climate resilience'. The present research investigates the complex processes involved in the shift, and the extent to which it meets expectations of 'building climate resilience'.

Understanding how research is put into use

Understanding how research is put into use

A review of different approaches to the translation of research into practice in order to promote the sustainable management of natural resources and the alleviation of poverty.

Negotiating pathways to adulthood: social change and indigenous culture in four Arctic communities

Negotiating pathways to adulthood: social change and indigenous culture in four Arctic communities

This project, funded by the US National Science Foundation, examines shared and divergent stressors and resilience strategies among young people from communities among the Alaskan Inupiat, Alaskan Yup’ik, Canadian Inuit, Norwegian Sami and Siberian Eveny.

Developing Indigenous research methodologies in the arctic (IRM-A): examining the impacts of settlement on socialization and youth experience in Siberia and Alaska

Developing Indigenous research methodologies in the arctic (IRM-A): examining the impacts of settlement on socialization and youth experience in Siberia and Alaska

This international, collaborative, comparative ethnographic inquiry aims to explore the ways indigenous research methodologies can be effectively utilized in the study of youth with special focus on local impacts of settlement on socialization practices and experiences of growing up in two arctic Indigenous communities: one in Siberia and one in Alaska.

Agroforestry and sustainability in the humid tropics

Agroforestry and sustainability in the humid tropics

Research in the Cambridge Geography Department on the nutrient dynamics of agroforestry in the humid tropics began more than twenty years ago. This research project provides an overview of recent activity.

Expertise, politics and policy-making: the role and influence of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 1970-2011

Expertise, politics and policy-making: the role and influence of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 1970-2011

This is an ongoing project to analyse the role and influence of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, a standing advisory body created by the Wilson Government in 1970. This work contributes to theories of environmental policy and politics, and helps to develop a theory of policy advice. It also documents the history of a unique institution.

Landscape, Culture and Development: Konso, Ethiopia

Landscape, Culture and Development: Konso, Ethiopia

Interests in development issues and in the history, culture and politics of Africa come together in an in-depth, ethnographic study of the landscape and people of Konso, in southern Ethiopia. The human processes that have constructed the intensive agriculture of Konso, on a range of mountains that rise out of the Rift Valley, are examined. This work has examined the social institutions that organize land and labour, and has identified that Konso ritual leaders, previously thought of by anthropologists as priests, also play a key role in the construction of this intensive agricultural landscape.

Cultural constructions of nature

Cultural constructions of nature

This area of research is concerned with the recent move from the purely scientific inputs to environmental management to an understanding of the deeper psychological motivations that are involved in terms of attitudes and values in environmental management (‘psychobiogeography’).

Maritime Geographies of Science

Maritime Geographies of Science

Whereas the importance of the world oceans for global security - particularly their circulation, oil and gas reserves, fishing stocks and indigenous culture - is now widely recognised, they are all threatened or endangered. However our knowledge of their environmental history, how they came to be the way they are, is surprisingly limited and at best fragmented. This research aims to develop the historical foundations for a new interdisciplinary understanding of the science of the oceans that can explain the nature and direction of change, and take account of the much greater and more diverse communities of historical actors or stakeholders than has been widely acknowledged.

Historical geography of Sámi hunting society in northern Sweden

Historical geography of Sámi hunting society in northern Sweden

Although connected to the outside world by the fur trade for more than 2,000 years, Sámi life styles were transformed more by the transition from hunting to reindeer pastoralism after 1600 than by colonialism and capitalism as such. This research project concentrates on the medieval period when reconstructions of the historical geography of Lapland can draw upon a few written sources but mainly still depend on archaeological and palaeo-environmental data and ethnographic analogy. Our research topics include hunter-gatherer settlement patterns, reinterpretation of archaeological finds from Sámi sacrificial sites, and documentation of a Sámi rock art site in Padjelanta.

Earlier projects