Sian Sullivan


Research interests and specialisms

  • Cultural landscapes and culturenature ontologies
  • Embodiment, affect, ontology
  • Neoliberal biodiversity conservation and socio-cultural impacts of conservation landscapes
  • Financialisation of nature, including conservation banking and biodiversity offsetting
  • Political Ecology
  • Globalisation and social movements
  • KhoeSan ethnography
  • Constructions of value
  • Poststructural theory

If you are a prospective PhD student I am currently interested in supervising projects in any of the above areas.

Teaching specialism

Most of my time at Bath Spa is currently taken up with research and project management for funded research projects, as detailed below.

I am also currently developing Environmental Anthropology contributions for the new MA in Environmental Humanities, and since arriving at BSU in 2014 I have offered occasional teaching for the following modules: Ecosystem Management (lev. 7), Conservation in Context (lev. 6), and Identities and Inequalities: Past to Present (lev. 5).

Current Scholarship

Currently I am Principal Investigator for two research projects funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and I am also coming to the close of a four-year research project on the theme of ‘value’ funded by the Leverhulme Trust. These projects are as follows:

1. Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts: A Cross-Disciplinary Analysis and Cross-Case Synthesis of Oral Histories and History in Post-Conflict and Postcolonial Contexts
(Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator, 05/16-10/18, Major Research Grant Funded by the AHRC’s Care for the Future theme and the French LABEX programme Past in the Present, AH/N504579/1, fEC UK £99,743 and €79,661)

This project proposes a cross-disciplinary analysis and cross-case synthesis of experience and memory in post-conflict and postcolonial contexts. In the postconflict and colonial contexts of our cases, ‘disruption’ is present in three senses:
- as the productive ways in which multiple experiences retrieved through oral histories may refract and revise historical analysis;
- as the happening histories of objectively disruptive events break the flow of individual and collective experience;
- and as a strategy for cross-disciplinary research to disrupt and democratise conventional understanding by drawing attention to occluded experiences.
‘Recovery’ is also polysemic, invoking retrieval of past experiences, and the possibility for enhanced well-being, through voicing memories that may have been suppressed and attending to mismatches between public discourse about displaced groups and individual experience.

Case-research, conducted from disciplinary bases in anthropology and history, will explore relationships between oral histories and amateur histories with more formal written archives and historiography in a series of disrupted settings, namely:
* evictions in colonial and apartheid west Namibia (Sian Sullivan, BSU, UK);
* memories and historical interpretations of the Egyptian Jewish diaspora (Michèle Baussant, CNRS, France);
* war-time evacuation in Vichy, France (Lindsey Dodd, University of Huddersfield, UK);
* recent maritime exodus of migrants from Africa (Olivette Otele, BSU, UK);
* and Portuguese migrant subjectivities in post-colonial Angola (Irène Dos Santos, CNRS, France).
These case studies will be complemented by systematic cross-case engagement, synthesis, theorisation and communication of case-study research, conducted through regular meetings of our core research team, a larger research workshop, and presentation to the broader AHRC-LABEX Pasp network.

2. Future Pasts in an Apocalyptic Moment: A Hybrid Analysis of 'Green' Performativities and Ecocultural Ethics in a Globalised African Landscape
(Principal Investigator, 10/13-09/18, Major Research Grant funded by the AHRC's ‘Care for the Future’ Theme (Highlight Notice ‘Environmental Change and Sustainability’), AH/K005871/2, fEC £996,385).

Given a time of global environmental crisis, Future Pasts is a cross-disciplinary Arts and Humanities research project exploring understandings and practices of sustainability in west Namibia, where three of the project’s UK-based academics have long-term field experience. We work with a number of Namibian organisations, including the National Museum, Gobabeb Research and Training Centre ( http://gobabebtrc.org/ ) and Save the Rhino Trust ( http://www.savetherhinotrust.org/ ) to develop and conduct research that is empirically-rich, locally relevant, theoretically interesting and creative.

With Future Pasts we seek to:
* enhance understanding of sociocultural, economic and environmental changes in historical and post-independence contexts;
* document and support cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge regarding present and historical cultural landscapes of west Namibia;
* extend analysis and understanding of the historical ecologies of the Namib;
* interrogate interpretations of ‘sustainability’, particularly those contributing to the promotion of a growth-oriented ‘green economy’;
* foster cross-cultural public discussion of concerns relating to environmental change and sustainability;
* critically engage with the power dimensions shaping whose pasts become transferred forwards to future in contemporary approaches to environmental conservation and sustainability.

See www.futurepasts.net for more information, including the Future Pasts Working Papers series.

3. Human, Non-human and Environmental Value Systems: An Impossible Frontier?
(Co-Investigator, 09/12-12/16, Major Research Grant from the Leverhulme Trust with colleagues at Manchester University and the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal, RP2012-V-041, £587,269)

This project is dedicated to understanding how new and competing ways of valuing social and environmental harm and care present both challenges and opportunities in a rapidly changing world. Our research explores value-making in a variety of social and environmental contexts, from the valuation of human life and development in the public and private sectors to the values being created in new markets for carbon, biodiversity, land and water.

For more information see www.thestudyofvalue.org , where you can find the Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value (LCSV) Working Paper series.

I am also an active member of the following Research Networks:

* Silenced pasts: mediations and social appropriations of the pasts in immigration and post-conflict societies (SILPAST), Consortium led by Michèle Baussant (CNRS, France) and funded by the Agence Nationale Recherche (ANR), France

* Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) https://politicalecologynetwork.com/

Recent and currently supervised PhDs

  • Louise Carver, The making of biodiversity value in UK biodiversity offsetting. FT, fully-funded studentship, Leverhulme Trust.
  • Christina Siamanta, The making of ‘Green Greece’? A political ecology analysis of economic crisis, ‘green growth’ and the neoliberalisation of nature FT 2011-2015, passed with no corrections 210116.
  • Marzhan Thomas, Sustainable transitions? Historical analysis of sustainable development indicators in Russia and Kazakhstan and their regions. PT 2009-2014, passed with minor corrections, 151214.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD University College London
  • BSc (Hons) University College London

Professional memberships

  • 2013 Fellow of Royal Geographical Society
  • 2008 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • 2006 Member of the Association of Social Anthropologists

Recent professional updating

Administrative Roles at Bath Spa:

  • Member of the Steering Committee for the Bath Spa Research Committee in Environmental Humanities http://www.bathspa.ac.uk/schools/humanities-and-cultural-industries/research-in-hci/research-centres-and-groups/environmental-humanities (since 2016)
  • Member of Peer Review College (since 2015)
  • Member of Promotions Panel for Readers and Professors (since 2015)

Other external roles

Current and Recent Academic Service:

Ad hoc reviewer for: American Ethnologist (08/16); Antipode (06/16, 08/13, 02/13); Conservation and Society (06/16); Environmental Humanities (04/16); Current Anthropology (04/16); New Political Economy (03/16); Geoforum (02/16+2nd review 06/16); Oxford University Press Bibliographies in Geography (09/15); Conservation Biology (06/15); Oryx (03/15; 01/14); Trans. of the Institute of British Geographers (11/14; 12/12); Annals of the Association of American Geographers (02/14); Biological Conservation (02/14); Development and Change (02/14, 04/13); Conservation and Society (04/13); Progress in Human Geography (08/11); Environmental Conservation (12/10); Environment and Society: Advances in Research (11/10);
Prior to 2010: J. Royal Anthropological Institute; J. Southern African Studies, J. Political Ecology; J. Biogeography; J. Social Movement Studies; ephemera: theory and politics of organization; International Feminist J. Politics; Forum for Development Studies; The South African Geographical Journal; Land Degradation and Development; J. Arid Environments

Professorial tenure review NORAGRIC, University of Oslo (2016)

Book Manuscript Reviewer for: Palgrave, Environmental Studies (09/15); Antipode Book Series, John Wiley (08/13); Routledge, Earthscan (2012); Dorling Kindersley Reading Program, Academic Press (2004).

Book endorsements: Conservation and Development, Routledge (09/15)

09/15 Reviewer for National Research Foundation, South Africa (researcher rating review)

01/13 Reviewer for Research Talent Programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Division of Social Sciences, for proposal entitled 'Biodiversity Banking: The Next Step in the Marketization of Ecosystem Services'

11/12 Judge for Rappaport Prize in Anthropology and Environment, Association of American Anthropologists annual conference

03/12 Invited contributor to International Benchmarking Review of research in British Human Geography, co-organised by the ESRC and AHRC

Reviewer for £40.5 million ESRC/DfID/NERC research programme on Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA), appointed March 2010

Member of ESRC College of Assessors since 2000. Recent reviews completed: 07/10 Postdoctoral Fellowship application

Member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), Theme on Governance, Equity and Rights (TGER) (since 2010)

Selection Committee appointee, Darrell Posey Fellowship Scheme for Ethnoecology and Traditional Resource Rights ( http://ise.arts.ubc.ca/fellowships/ ) (since 2004)

External Research Associate, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR), University of Warwick (since 2005)

Research and academic outputs

Go to ResearchSPAce

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