Economic Anthropology in Global Climate Change Policy: A Conversation with Pamela McElwee

In this second episode of Mergers and Acquisitions’ inaugural climate change series, economic and climate anthropologist Aneil Tripathy interviews Professor Pamela McElwee at Rutgers University. Pam is the author of “Anthropological Engagements with Integrated Assessment Modelling” for Economic Anthropology’s symposium issue on climate change.

Pam and Aneil dive into how her long-term fieldwork and study of forest policy and management in Vietnam informs and shapes Pam’s professional work for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We discuss how to bring anthropological insights into the world of global climate change policy, how to navigate critical approaches and contributions to consensus knowledge, collaborating across disciplines and in teams. We also reflect on the meanings of equity, value, and justice in policy and market-based solutions as well as on how economic anthropologists can work to make sense of, change and inform important policy models.

Pamela McElwee is an associate professor in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University. For the past 15 years her research interests have concerned human adaptation to global environmental change with particular expertise in biodiversity conservation and climate change in Asia. Pam’s work focuses on how individuals and households respond to changes in the physical environment, and how their responses are shaped by external policies, markets and other constraints. Her research combines qualitative and quantitative household-level social analysis of environmental decision-making and resource use, with most of her fieldwork focusing on Vietnam. She has also been a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

How Ancient Landscapes Can Help Us Respond to Climate Change: A Conversation with Vernon Scarborough

Aneil and Vern discuss economic anthropology, archaeological relevance to current climate change concerns, making linkages between past and present, sustainability, interactions between ancient people and their environments, and what we can learn from them, population dispersion, inequality, interdisciplinary decision-making, laughter, and the value of taking the long view.
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