From Reciprocity to Relationality: Anthropological Possibilities

In September 2018 the wonderful journal Cultural Anthropology published a special edition of their Hot Spots series that I edited. You can find the link to webpage for full issue here.  The issue came about when Dominic Boyer, one of the editors of the journal (the other is Cymene Howe) contacted in in July of 2018 and asked if I would be interested in editing something that focused on the future of anthropology. The issue was incredibly fun to edit. In part, because it was responding to calls from young, dynamic, smart scholars for other people (like me) to speak up about some of the pressing issues in the field. And it part because I got to work with the people who contributed articles. I’ve linked to each article and each scholar below. I’m proud of this issue of Hot Spots and hope you enjoy it!


Decolonizing Conservation


In June 2018 John Aini and Paige West presented joint keynote lectures at The International Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, Malaysia and The POLLEN (Political Ecology Network) Biennial Conference in Oslo, Norway. John presented their lecture in Kuching and Paige presented their lecture in Oslo. They wrote a single paper together in May 2018 and then worked independently (sitting across a table from each other on both Nago and Nusa Islands, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea) to translate the single paper into two lectures for two very different audiences. Their goal was to talk about their on-going collaboration and the work they have been doing for the past decade to “decolonize conservation.”


Women’s Scholarship in Political Ecology

On June 20th, 2018, I was honored to give one of the keynote addresses at the 2018 POLLEN conference in Oslo, Norway. The talk I gave, “Critical Approaches to Dispossession in the Melanesian Pacific: Conservation, Voice, and Collaboration” was a co-authored piece I wrote with my long-time research partner John Aini. In it I drew out three interrelated themes that, if we think about together, we can use to make Political Ecology a stronger, more equitable, and potentially decolonial field. One of those themes had to do with the gendered nature of the genealogies of knowledge we draw on and reproduce in the field. Here is what I said about this in the keynote address:


My Year in Mansplaining

December 29, 2013 — My year in Mansplaining

Mansplain– delighting in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation……. To explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticized or even rejected altogether (Urban Dictionary, 2013).

While it would not be possible to recount all of the Mansplaining I have had to endure this year, I thought I would write up my top five memories of Mansplaining for 2013.  I also thought I might try and expand the definition of Mansplain a bit to include the different species of Mansplainers that I tend to encounter.


Teaching Decolonizing Methodologies

This essay first appeared on the website Savage Minds.

For about a decade I have been teaching a graduate seminar in anthropology at Columbia University called “Decolonizing Methodology” which takes Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s groundbreaking book Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples as its starting point and also draws on other key texts focused on research methodologies specifically (Denzin et. al. 2008; Kovach 2010). In the course we tend to start with Smith’s work and then use her careful analysis to guide us in taking apart the various traditional methodologies that anthropologists tend to rely on in their research and the various theoretical frames that are of-the-moment within the field. This means that the course moves back and forth between “decolonizing methodology” and “decolonizing theory”.


Wofford College Commencement Address 2016

** On May 15, 2016, I had the honor of delivering the Commencement Address at Wofford College, the college I attended for my undergraduate degree. Here is the text for that address.**

Exactly twenty-five years ago I was sitting where you are right now. I was listening to Dr. John Palms, then president of the University of South Carolina, give the Wofford College commencement address in 1991 when I was about to graduate. Sometimes that twenty-five years feels like a heartbeat, a second, and sometimes it feels like a lifetime. It is an enormous honor to be here today. So, thank you, Wofford College, for inviting me. And thank you to every parent, guardian and family member in this audience for making today possible for your graduates. And thank you to all of you for spending the next fifteen minutes of your lives listening to me. Although, you are all trapped at this point. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, faculty, staff, trustees, and fellow alumni, I love you, but what I’m about to say is to and for the graduating class of 2016.