Sally and Alvin V. Shoemaker Chair

Department of Anthropology

University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

University of Pennsylvania

Teaching: Courses

How does understanding the past help us understand the world today? One strand of my research seeks to situate contemporary issues in terms of both the processes that structure them and the longer-term histories that created them.  Among the issues my students and I are working on are problems of erosion, watershed damage, and the maintenance of irrigation work, the impact of dam construction on social and economic well-being, the implications of market participation among the poor and landless, and -- most recently -- the human role in creating and maintaining biodiversity.  These issues are all part of pressing contemporary problems in India today: the agrarian crisis, food security, and environmental destruction and conservation.

Some of these issues are addressed in public lecture published by the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, The Human Face of the Land: Why the Past Matters for India's Environmental Future, and in my Conservation and Society article on dams in India.