Carol Carpenter

Senior Lecturer and Associate Research Scientist in Natural Resource Social Science and Adjunct Lecturer in Anthropology

Research Overview

I am an environmental anthropologist with area expertise in Indonesia and Pakistan. My research focuses on the relationship between human societies and the environment, especially on how this relationship is modeled in conservation and sustainable development policy and in the literature of environmental anthropology. Current research interests include:

  • The anthropology of conservation and sustainable development. This work steps outside the worlds of conservation and sustainable development (including policy and implementation), using the social science literature to think critically about the knowledge systems and models of government and economy that implicitly shape conservation and development policy and impinge on practice. I trace the conceptual history of social science thinking about development and conservation to its roots, focusing on theories of power, government, resistance, subject creation, and the economy. This project is taught in two courses, one on the literature explicitly concerning conservation and sustainable development, and one on the root theories.  My analyses of this literature is an ongoing publishing project as well.
  • The anthropology of the global economy.  This work explores theories in economic anthropology (and other social sciences) about: the transition to capitalism, the moral relation between economy and society, articulations between rural households and the global economy, rural-urban relations in the global economy, commodities, the commons debate, credit and debt, contracting and flexible accumulation, globalization and scale, and REDD.  The goal is to complement and question the narrowly economic view that dominates development and, increasingly, conservation.  The project is taught in a course on the anthropology of the global economy.  It is also a publishing project analyzing these theories.
  • The relationship between human society and the environment in the history of environmental anthropology. I have published a history of studies of the environment within anthropology, in collaboration with Michael Dove, by Blackwell. I also teach an undergraduate course on environmental anthropology.