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Author Archives: admin
Anne Rademacher. 2011. Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu. Duke University Press.
A major contribution to the nascent anthropology of urban environments, Reigning the River illuminates the complexities of river restoration in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and one of the fastest-growing cities in South Asia. In this rich ethnography, Anne M. Rademacher explores the ways that urban riverscape improvement involved multiple actors, each constructing ideals of restoration through contested histories and ideologies of belonging. She examines competing understandings of river restoration, particularly among bureaucrats in state and conservation-development agencies, cultural heritage activists, and advocates for the security of tens of thousands of rural-to-urban migrants settled along the exposed riverbed.
Rademacher conducted research during a volatile period in Nepal’s political history. As clashes between Maoist revolutionaries and the government intensified, the riverscape became a site of competing claims to a capital city that increasingly functioned as a last refuge from war-related violence. In this time of intense flux, efforts to ensure, create, or imagine ecological stability intersected with aspirations for political stability. Throughout her analysis, Rademacher emphasizes ecology as an important site of dislocation, entitlement, and cultural meaning.
This lucidly written and rigorously argued book is likely to become a major contribution to the anthropology of the Himalayan environment, and to the small but growing literature on urban modernity in Nepal. In the eyes of environmental activists, the sorry state of the Bagmati River is a metaphor for the state of Nepal itself. By elucidating the activists’ critique and their vision for a more ordered and coherent future, Anne M. Rademacher makes a deeply original contribution to political anthropology. This book deserves to be widely read both by students of Himalayan society, culture, and politics and by those who work in the areas of Nepal’s environment, development, and governance. The clarity of the writing makes it especially suitable as an undergraduate text in a range of courses on environment and development, political anthropology, urban anthropology, and South Asian studies.—Arjun Guneratne, Macalester College
Cutting-edge social science has not kept pace with the shift of most of the human population to urban areas. Anne M. Rademacher helps to remedy this deficiency by asking, as one of her informants did of her, ‘What is urban ecology?’ In answer, she shows how urban nature and culture are mutually produced, reinforced, and changed, deftly weaving into her analysis recent political and environmental transformations in Nepal. The result is a pioneering study of the moral and affective dimensions of a twenty-first-century urban environment. It is a model for a new generation of urban studies.—Michael R. Dove, Yale University
About The Author: Anne M. Rademacher is Assistant Professor of Environmental and Metropolitan Studies in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University.
The A&E Meetings chair is Courtney Carothers of the University of Alaska. The Anthropology and the Environment Section sponsored 3 sessions at the 2011 convention.
- Nature and Ethics Across Geographical, Discursive and Human Borders
- The Continuing Traces, Tidemarks, and Legacies of Walter Goldschmidt’s Life and Work, Part II, co-sponsored with Culture and Agriculture
- Gitxaała Laxyuup (Kitkatla Nation): Tracing Gitxaala History and Culture Through Archaeology and Anthropology, (co-sponsored with Society for the Anthropology of North America)
In January’s this month’s A&E column in Anthropology News, anthropologist James Veteto discusses the activist role of environmental anthropology and its linkages with the ongoing Occupy movement. He notes that these groups overlap on many points, and when it comes to seeking sustainable solutions to problems of ecological and social degradation the Occupy movement and environmental anthropology have great potentials for productive collaboration.
In the February Anthropology News, outgoing president Paige West gives an “state of the section” report.
Anthropologists work in communities where climate change is already affecting local economies and people’s lives. On the recommendation of the Anthropology & Environment section, the American Anthropological Association has formed a task force to explore the cultural impacts of global climate change. The task force is headed by Prof. Shirley Fiske from the University of Maryland.
Prof. Fiske writes:
Anthropologists are working in communities and arenas where climate change is affecting the people with whom we work, either directly via the environment, or through institutions and programs as a result of global governance related to climate change. As humans and cultures, we have been down some of these paths before (adjusting to swings in climate) with critical lessons, as archaeologists are showing us.
Climate change research by Shirley Fiske and task force member Sarah Strauss is profiled here.
In a related development, an important film currently in production will help bring home the impacts of climate change on indigenous communities around the world. The Change, a documentary being filmed by Ironbound Films, follows research by Task Force member Prof. Susie Crate. It also shows how her teenage daughter becomes engaged with a set of issues not on most teenagers’ radars.
Michael R. Dove won the 2011 Julian Steward Award for his book “The Banana Tree at the Gate: The History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo.”