The department is a lively community that is recognised internationally as one of the top centres for research and teaching in development studies.
Laura Rival works on a number of interrelated projects that together illustrate her distinctive approach to the Anthropology of Nature, Society and Development.
Her empirically grounded, theoretically oriented and policy-relevant research aims to renew our thinking about the relationship between environment and society. Empirically, her work is grounded in ethnographic research with the Huaorani (Ecuadorian Amazon), inter-disciplinary research with the Makushi (central Guyana), and policy-oriented research with a number of Latin American indigenous and peasant communities, both in Central and South America. Theoretically, she has engaged critically with a range of deterministic assumptions associated with modernist ideologies , as well as with various theories that reify the nature/ culture divide, or perpetuate dubious interpretations of indigenous and peasant livelihoods and their historical dynamics. She has also contributed to political economic analyses of development policies, as well as to discussions surrounding policy instruments aimed at reconciling human development and the conservation of biological and cultural diversity.
Her current research builds on this expertise to address burning issues of development in the face of severe environmental degradation and accelerating climate change.