PhD Geography 1989 University of California-Berkeley
My research explores society/nature relations through the lenses of political ecology, cultural ecology, environmental history, and Indigenous studies. I am also active in international conservation and Indigenous rights advocacy and policy development.
My community-based fieldwork centers on documenting and supporting Indigenous peoples’ socio-ecological systems, conservation practices, governance and management of commons, and struggles for sovereignty, self-determination, and defense of territory and rights. Alongside this I document and analyze efforts worldwide to develop international and national law, policy, and practice that recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ rights and conservation achievements.
I’ve carried out extensive research and community support work with Sharwa (Sherpa) communities in Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest/Chomolungma) National Park and World Heritage Site since the early 1980s. Beginning in the early 1990s I’ve also participated in international advocacy and policy development with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the global ICCA Consortium. My work in both the Mt. Everest region and in international law and policy focuses on advancing recognition and respect for Indigenous peoples’ self-governance, ways of life, and conservation practices, including in situations in which Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved areas (ICCAs) are overlapped by national parks and other protected areas.
These engagements led to three books: Indigenous Peoples, National Parks, and Protected Areas: A New Paradigm Linking Conservation, Culture, and Rights (University of Arizona Press, 2014), Conservation through Cultural Survival: Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas (Island Press 1997), and Claiming the High Ground: Sherpas, Subsistence, and Environmental Change in the Highest Himalaya (University of California Press, 1993). I’m currently completing a volume on good practices for rights-based protected areas for IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas and a companion volume of case studies and resources for the ICCA Consortium.