Sally and Alvin V. Shoemaker Chair

Department of Anthropology

University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

University of Pennsylvania

Teaching: Courses

"History was not driven by one zone," on the Dravidian movement, Outlook India. 2016

"The Anthropocene concept is oddly Eurocentric," Outlook India, 2016


"On the Hilltop, and Down by the River," by Samir Patel, Archaeology Magazine

Blurbs from the back cover of The Social Lives of Forests, University of Chicago Press, 2014:

“Very engaging. The Social Lives of Forests offers a must-read, highly interdisciplinary perspective yielding fresh, rich insight and incisive accounts of a global swath of sustainability issues and politics surrounding forests and their current and future management, markets, policies, cultures, and conservation along with their incredible past histories. A joy.”—Karl Zimmerer, Pennsylvania State University and editor of Globalization and New Geographies of Conservation

“An all-too-uncommon union of the hard and social sciences, The Social Lives of Forests is a ground-breaking work that reframes both the history of the world’s forest lands and the debate over their future. Stressing the centuries-long human role in the creation and maintenance of wooded landscapes, and their relation to both rural and urban life in the globalized world of today and in the past, the articles in this book collectively provide a new way to think about forest ecosystems and their inhabitants. This is a book that will surprise and inform historians, ecologists, foresters, environmentalists—and anyone who cares about the forests around us.”—Charles C. Mann, author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus

The Social Lives of Forests should have a strong and positive influence on the fields of ecology, conservation, environmental history, and many social sciences. A clear message emerges that established views and conservation approaches based on seeing people as separate from nature—or viewing the land as divided into the pristine and wild versus the humanized and despoiled—are erroneous and doomed to generate unsuccessful policies and approaches to stewardship. These are not novel ideas, but this volume is unusual and valuable in making a forceful case for their validity based on work from many different landscapes and cultures and a great diversity of environmental and historical conditions.”—David R. Foster, director of the Harvard Forest, Harvard University

“Forests are complex ecological entities, but they are also cultural, historical, political, and social, all at once. Above all, say the contributors to this excellent volume, forests are working landscapes with multiple lives and livelihoods. The Social Lives of Forests brings together a posse of the world’s leading scholars of forests who challenge us to think about trees and people in entirely new ways. This book is an exhilarating and intellectually capacious exploration of forests as biomes and as artifacts. A bravura piece of social science scholarship.”—Michael Watts, University of California, Berkeley