The Ohio State University at Marion

​Anna Willow honored with research award from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for anthropological research

Ohio State Marion Associate Professor of Anthropology Anna Willow was recently awarded a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research for the support of her project, “Contested Developments and Cumulative Effects: Understanding Diverse Responses to Energy Resource Development in British Columbia’s Peace River Region.”

The project is informed by an understanding of human cultural and political actions as components of complex and conjoined socionatural systems. The project will generate primary data on diverse responses to oil and gas, coal mining, and hydroelectric energy developments in the Peace River region of northeastern British Columbia, Canada with the objective of developing an analytical framework capable of explaining environmental decision-making in areas of active anthropogenic environmental change.

Data derived from semi-structured interviews and focused participant-observation will be analyzed to produce narrative case studies, comparative correlational matrices, and subjective risk/opportunity/tenables maps that demonstrate the role of factors such as (1) proximity to detrimental impacts, (2) workforce participation and economic opportunities, (3) political leadership and interpersonal dynamics, and (4) customary environmental uses, values, and relationships in explaining when individuals and communities oppose or accept energy resource development and the forms their opposition or acceptance takes.

Approaching such responses as one key way that socially-meaningful constructs inform materially-meaningful actions, this project contributes to the larger theoretical challenge of comprehending the recursive processes through which culturally and politically conceived landscapes and formative physical actions combine to co-produce socionatural realities in dynamic contexts of contested developments and cumulative effects.