Institutions and Governance Lab: UGA Anthropology

Lab Members

Anya Bonanno

Anya BonannoAnya Bonanno's interests meet at the nexus of institutions, agrobiodiversity, and livelihoods in West Africa. She plans to explore the institutional context of agrobiodiversity—governance, land tenure, labor, and market integration—and to what extent these structures shape rice diversity management in the northern province of Sierra Leone. While the social construction of crop diversity is recognized, its institutional dimensions remain under-explored. Additionally, Anya is interested in the nature and extent to which policy at the national and international scales enhance or constrain agrobiodiversity within these systems.

Katie Gibson

Katie GibsonKatie Gibson is a Ph.D. student in Integrative Conservation (ICON) and Anthropology. She is broadly interested in institutional processes that marginalize or empower communities, drawing from the literature on environmental and social justice movements, land grabs and indigenous rights. Specifically, she is interested in how power is leveraged at varying scales within the climate policy arena to control resources in Latin America.

Danielle Jensen-Ryan

Danielle Jensen-RyanDanielle's research focuses on the science-policy interface—most notably, whether and how science is incorporated in environmental policy. Her work details formal and informal factors which influence the extent to and ways in which science is used to shape policy decision processes. To address this research topic, Danielle carried out her doctoral research in Georgia exploring how water policy decisions are made and the dynamics of the science-policy interface. Danielle currently holds a post-doc with Dr. Sarah Strauss at the Bioenergy Alliance of the Northern Rockies (BANR), University of Wyoming, where she is analyzing the sociocultural and ecological sustainability of beetle-killed and other forest biomass as a bioenergy feedstock for the renewable energy industry.

Suneel Kumar

Suneel KumarSuneel Kumar is a Ph.D. student in Integrative Conservation (ICON) and Anthropology whose interests are rooted in the question, "What is Indus River?" Seeing the Indus River as having "agency," he is interested in how its multiple properties or ontologies "allow" different stakeholders (state, civil society, environment and water experts, political parties, local fishermen and agriculturalists, conservation organizations) to construct diverse ontological realities of the Indus. He is interested in exploring the ontological roots of conflict among differentially positioned actors, and how state institutions impose one ontology of the Indus River while ignoring or denying the existence of other ontological realities when devising water governance policies. By conducting institutional ethnography within different "sites" of ontological engagement (e.g., dam construction, policies, rituals), he will explore the dynamic interactions and exchanges that occur at the interface of distinct ontologies. He is also interested in the use of experimental or action research methods to explore the possibility for ontological engagement among multiple stakeholders to provide a pathway for more far-reaching solutions to contemporary water governance challenges.

Laura German

Laura GermanDr. German is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Her scholarship has spanned the spectrum of theoretical to applied work, including the analysis of customary land rights and how they are shaped by processes of land rights formalization and neoliberal conservation; the impacts and governance of biofuels, land-based investments and large-scale land acquisitions; China's growing influence in the agricultural, forestry and mining sectors in southern Africa; community-based institutional innovations to foster more equitable and sustainable use of natural resources at landscape scale; the application of participatory action research to climate change adaptation; institutional learning and change within agricultural research and extension organizations; and the integration of social theory with participatory action research to catalyze governance innovations. Her work also spans critical and constructive paradigms, with much of her recent work focused on querying discursive claims of more powerful actors through a detailed look at evidence, and early work focused on methodological innovations to address social and environmental problems. She is working to bridge these traditions at UGA by spearheading the Social Research and Action Network, a collaborative initiative across the social sciences at UGA that aims to foster synergy between critical social theory and community engagement.

Lab Affiliates

Jessica Chappell

Jessica ChappellJessica is a Ph.D. student in the Integrative Conservation program and Odum School of Ecology. Jessica's research focuses on balancing social and ecological demands for freshwater, specifically in Puerto Rican streams. She is interested in how water management functions in Puerto Rico and is examining differences in de jure and de facto water governance on the island. Last summer, Jessica carried out key informant interviews with representatives of federal and state agencies involved with water management on the island to understand how accountability to environmental flows, water use efficiency, and hydrologic connectivity are framed and operationalized. Jessica hopes to use her findings to develop more realistic conservation recommendations for the maintenance of freshwater biodiversity.

Kristen Lear

Kristen LearKristen is a Ph.D. student in Integrative Conservation and Forestry and Natural Resources with regular involvement in lab activities. Her research focuses on the conservation of endangered pollinating bats that migrate between the U.S. and Mexico. Specifically, she is working on the conservation of the Mexican long-nosed bat, a species that feeds on and pollinates agaves, which people use to produce tequila and mezcal. Her work seeks to understand how to develop effective conservation strategies that are tailored to the unique social, political, and economic contexts of each area through which the bats migrate. She will assess the potential for different governance paradigms (e.g. market-based instruments, self-organization, regulatory) to aid in the conservation of this migratory species, as well explore the critiques and potential pitfalls of each of these governance paradigms. More information about her current and previous research can be found at kristenlear.wixsite.com/batconservation.

Contact Lab

Anya Bonanno
anya.bonanno@uga.edu

Katie Gibson
k.gibson@uga.edu

Danielle Jensen-Ryan
ellejr@uga.edu

Suneel Kumar
suneel.kumar@uga.edu

Kristen Lear
klear@uga.edu
kristen.lear@gmail.com

Laura German
Lgerman@uga.edu