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thin line

amity a. doolittle

Exporting timber

Burning fields


Land use/cover

curent research

research and teaching interests
(link to general areas of interest)

current research

1. Globalization and Environment: International Agendas and Local Responses.

I am exploring the wide-ranging issues, conflicts, and the contradictions inherent in addressing issues of globalization and the environment. Specifically I am interested in the perceived discrepancies between the North and the South over issues of natural resources use, governance and conservation.

Given my anthropological background I focus on effects of globalization on the environment and local peoples livelihoods, rights, and resources. Determining the appropriate form of local resource governance is a central concern in my research.

2. International Environmental Justice.

Issues of globalization and international environmental justice go hand-in-hand. I am concerned with the marked and increasing disparities in the world community between people who have access to clean and safe resources and people who do not.

My research is organized around the question: Why is it that often poor and minority communities and/or nations bear a disproportionately large burden of toxic contamination and suffer the health problems that result from it? I believe that these disparities are not solely the result of historical circumstances, contemporary economic and trade relations, and inadequate or inappropriate governmental regulation.

Other, more pernicious issues are also in play. There are clear cases that environmental injustices result from the deliberate targeting of disenfranchised communities or weak nations to bear the burden of powerful communities and industrialized nations’ unsustainable consumption patterns.

3. Community Mapping:

In collaboration with Dr. Lisa M. Curran I am working in collaboration with Dr. Lisa Curran’s long-term research project that explores the influence of humans, land use change, fires and climate on forest dynamics and carbon sequestration in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The main goal of Dr. Curran’s NASA-funded project is to document the rate and extent of land cover change in West Kalimantan and to explore the causal factors driving the change.

My contribution to this project has been to work with several local Indonesian NGOs and a local village on a community mapping project. Working with Dr. Curran’s research team we have trained the NGO members in social science research methods that can be used to understand property rights systems, document oral histories of landscape change, and to look at contemporary patterns of land use and land conflicts.

Our goal was to convey the notion that the landscape and the maps you make of it can be seen as “social histories of geography,” not just symbolic representations of physical geographic features.

4. Social Context of Biodiversity in Southeast Asia:

In collaboration with Dr. Michael R. Dove I am working on the final publication phases of Dr. Dove’s long-term project funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Two volumes are planned, one on the community-level dimensions of biodiversity conservation in agricultural communities, and a second on the wider social and political forces that promote conservation versus degradation.

The first volume, edited by Michael Dove, Percy Sajise and Amity Doolittle, is titled Biodiversity and Society in Southeast Asia: Case Studies of  the Interface between Nature and Culture (Southeast Asia Monograph Series, Volume 54, Yale University) was published in 2005.

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