Political Ecology with Laura Ogden
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Political Ecology with Laura Ogden

– In the beginning when I first started working in the Everglades, I started with this kind
of traditional question in environmental anthropology
which was how are places that feel like nature also
places of history and culture. And a lot of anthropologists
and geographers and others have written about wilderness in this way and that’s how I started. I was very interested
in kind of uncovering this hidden history of nature. And in particular a kind
of hidden history of nature that’s associated with poor rural people. As I studied the
Everglades more over time, I became interested in a
question that’s more associated with political ecology
and that was not just what’s the hidden history of nature, but why does certain kinds
of histories get hidden. And so I became interested in
a more of a political question about how do we forget the
lives of rural poor people and how do we forget those
histories and stories as they’re associated with
places that are nature. And so that’s how my work progressed from kind of an environmental
anthropology question to a more political ecology question. Throughout the course of my research first in the Everglades and
now in southern Patagonia, I’ve been interested in how
the environment shapes lives, but what I’ve learned
through this research is less about the environment perhaps and more about what it means to be human. In the Everglades,
hunters in the Everglades, the thing I learned was that
to be an Everglades hunter is contingent upon living in relation with alligators, with
mangroves, with water. And in my work in Patagonia
I’m also interested in trying to rethink
kind of classic questions in conservation by taking
a relational approach. So for instance in
Patagonia one of the big environmental problems
there are introduced species like they are everywhere. And so there I’m trying to think about introduced species in new ways, not just as outsiders
who’ve been brought in, but to try to think about well what kinds of relations are occurring there, how do they change and how do we bring a new kind of ethical
standpoint to thinking about living and dying in times
of ecological crisis.

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