skip to primary navigation skip to content

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:

Professor Tim Bayliss-Smith Agroforestry, intensification and social institutions in Melanesia
Dr Iris Möller Scientifically-informed coastal management; scientific underpinning of coastal ecosystem service, risk, and uncertainty assessments.
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 Tom Spencer Hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics, ecological processes and human interactions in coastal ecosystems
Dr Piers Vitebsky Indigenous cosmologies and ontologies in the Arctic and tropical forests

Graduate students

The following graduate students are also associated with the group:

Albert Arhin Translating Global Climate Change Policy: The Case of REDD+ in Ghana
Libby Blanchard The Political Economy of Reducing Emissions
Hannah Cubaynes Whales from space: studying ballen whales by satellite
Jasper Montana Expertise at the Interface: Insights from emerging international governance arrangements for biodiversity and ecosystem services
Thomas Pryke Nature Conservation: Living with Environmental Change on the Suffolk Coast, United Kingdom
Thérèse Rudebeck Power, Politics and Public-Private Partnerships in Global Water Governance
Natasha Watts 'Serious business to solve serious poverty': Finance and farming in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania

Meeting series

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.