Gender in the Jungle: Nature, Culture, and Gender in Environmental Research

Gender in the Jungle: Nature, Culture, and Gender in Environmental Research

06.05.2022, Friday
ATREE Auditorium

Dr. Kiran Asher

Professor, Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, UMass Amherst

Speaker Bio 

A biologist-turned-social scientist and a two-time Fulbright-Nehru fellow, Kiran Asher‘s work on environmental and social justice struggles in Latin America and South Asia appears in Antipode, Feminist Studies, GeoForum, and elsewhere.  She is currently working on a book entitled Fieldwork: Nature, Culture, and Gender in the Age of Climate Change.


I started my career as a field biologist studying the behavioural ecology of black buck (Antilope cervicapra) in the semi-arid grasslands of Maharashtra in the late 1980s.  I went on to study iguanas, black-bellied whistling ducks, and fish in Costa Rica and Brazil. Gender, race, caste, nationality, age, class, geopolitics, infrastructure, seasons, and other factors were constantly entangled with antelope and other fauna that constituted my research subjects.  But these factors and the connections between natural and social history were present-absences.  That is, they were hidden in plain sight and presumed to be irrelevant to scientific research.

Thirty-five years later, concerns about social issues particularly those of local communities and gender are posited as central in environmental research.  For my Fulbright-Nehru research, I proposed to explore how these issues show up (or not) in research on sustainable environmental conservation, particularly at ATREE (known as one the most influential and innovative conservation organizations in India). In this talk, I share insights from this work and on how environmental and social agendas intersect at a one particular ATREE field site.  I focus particularly on the gendered implications of trying to do fieldwork on gender.

Tea/coffee will be served downstairs at 3:30 pm.