Detailed information about the course

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Locating Anthropology with regard to Ecology and Environment


June 9-10


Prof. Irene Becci, UNIL

Prof. Raphaël Rousseleau, UNIL

Paula Juan, UNIL

Virgile Delmas, UNIL


Prof. Geremia Cometti, University of Strasbourg

Dr. Elise Demelenaere, CNRS, Paris 

Prof. Tobias Haller, UNIBE


The module aims at putting into discussion the many ways anthropology and anthropologists relate to ecological and environmental issues with regard to recent developments within and at the margins of the discipline. In order to structure the discussion, it starts from considering two 'classical' approaches that have been used to describe the discourses and practices of a social group with regard to its environment. One focuses on the relevance of an 'ontological scheme' (like in an anthropology of nature), or on the local knowledge and classification of species (ethno-ecology). A further approach explores how the natural environment is reflected and integrated into social and cultural organisations, through specific skills, in a both practical and poetical "dwelling" perspective (cultural ecology). In recent years, the number of studies in environmental anthropology concerned with pollution, the anthropocene, etc. has grown vigorously, and renewed the disciplinary landscape. Some authors developed frames to study inter-species relations and coevolution in a particular milieu, even trying to write an anthropology "beyond humans", while others focus on the political and economic aspects of conservation, or sustainable development. All of them try to address the contemporary ecological and environmental issues that are at the basis of a larger socio-political concern. This module discusses the arguments of authors who opened up such paths, and the many ways of approaching these issues, by building bridges between socio-anthropology and philosophy or geography or between social and natural sciences.


This workshop aims at giving examples of leads in the field of research of the anthropology facing ecology, as well as some methodological tools to PhD candidates, with a particular attention to the challenges inherent to projects trying to "go beyond nature and culture", "beyond humans", etc. It takes place in an artist residency.




Some reading suggestions:


Albert, Bruce, « L'Or cannibale et la chute du ciel : une critique chamanique de l'économie politique de la nature (Yanomami, Brésil) », L'Homme, 126/128, 1993, pp.349-378. 

Brunois, Florence, Le jardin du casoar, la forêt des Kasua. Savoir-être et savoir-faire écologiques, Paris, MSH-CNRS (chemins de l'ethnologie), 2007.

Haller, Tobias, "The Different Meanings of Land in the Age of Neoliberalism: Theoretical Reflections on Commons and Resilience Grabbing from a Social Anthropological Perspective", Land 2019, 8, 104; doi:10.3390/land8070104

-"Towards a new institutional political ecology. How to marry external effects, institutional change and the role of power and ideology in commons studies"

Bird-David, Nurit, « 'Animism' revisited », Current anthropology, 1999 : 67-79.

Cometti, Geremia, Lorsque le brouillard a cessé de nous écouter. Changement climatique et migrations chez les Q'eros des Andes péruviennes, Berne, Peter Lang, 2015.

Demelenaere, Élise, 2021. "Anthropology beyond Anthropos: A Historical Insight into French Contributions to Environmental Anthropology", in Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l'anthropologie, Paris. URL Bérose : article2529.html

Descola, Philippe, L'écologie des autres. L'anthropologie et la question de la nature, Paris, Éditions Quae (coll. Sciences en question), 2011.

Ferdinand, Malcolm, Une écologie décoloniale. Penser l'écologie depuis le monde caribéen, Paris, Seuil (coll. Anthropocène), 2019.

Haraway D., Ishikawa N., Gilbert S. F., Olwig K., Tsing A. L., and Bubandt N. "Anthropologists Are Talking – About The Anthropocene". Ethnos, 2015. DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2015.1105838 

Ingold, Tim, "Culture and perception", "Hunting and gathering as ways of perceiving the environment", The perception of the environment : essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill, London, Routledge, 2000, pp.40-60.

Lockyer, Joshua and Veteto, James R. (eds.), Environmental Anthropology Engaging Ecotopia: Bioregionalism, Permaculture, and Ecovillages, New York, Berghahn Books, 2013.

Murray Li, Tanya, Land's End. Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier. Durham-London, Duke University Press, 2014.

Sahlins, Marshall, « On the ontological schemes of Beyond nature and culture », HAU : Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 4, 2014, pp.281-90. 

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, Princeton University Press, 2015.







Tentative programme of 2-days-Workshop (one overnight stay): 9.6.2022 -10.6.2022

(to be adapted according to the number of registered students)


Thursday, June 9.6.22

10:30-12: Welcome and roundtable with brief presentations of students' doctoral research topics

12- 13: Lunch in Vevey

13: Walk to LaBecque

13:30-14:30: Presentation by Tobias Haller, with discussion

14:30-15:45 Presentation by Elise Demelenaere, with discussion

15:45-16:15 Coffee Break

16:15-18:00 Student presentations, with discussion

18:00-19:00 Aperitif and exchange with artists in residence, walk to Vevey 

20:00 Dinner in Vevey


Friday, June 10 

8:00-9:45 Student presentation, with discussion (in LaBecque)

9:45-10 Coffee Break

10-11:15 presentation by Geremia Cometti, with discussion

11:15-12:30 Student presentations, with discussion

12:30-13 exchange with artists in residence, aperitif

13: Walk to Vevey

13:30-14:30 Lunch Vevey

14:30-16 Final exchange and end


LaBecque and Vevey house, Vevey



Deadline for registration 30.05.2022
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