Research & Teaching Interests:
The dynamic relationships, material and symbolic, between humans and environment; environmental conservation; tenure relations and dispossession; human-wildlife conflict and multi-species relations; global environmental politics; indigenous and environmental rights movements; gender, environment, and development; sustainable development values, knowledge(s), and discourses; interdisciplinary, ethnographic and collaborative methodologies; creative engagements in sustainable development; pedagogies for connecting across difference; and “recommoning” in the face of climate change
Ph.D. 2010, Environmental Anthropology, University of Georgia, Athens GA, USA
B.A. 1998, International Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC, USA
Principles of Sustainable Development (SD 2400)
Development Theory and Practice (SD 2700)
Conservation and Development (SD 3365)
Gender, Inequality, and Sustainable Development (SD 3475)
Sustainability and Creative Practice (co-listed and co-taught with Jim Toub in Art)
Environment and Development in the Global South (SD 3700)
As an environmental anthropologist and political ecologist, I position my scholarship at the intersections between culture, power, environment, and development. My long-term research assesses people’s responses to conservation-related dispossession in southern Africa. Recent research focused on illegal hunting as resistance to dispossession in Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park. I am also conducting a longitudinal analysis of people’s ideas and experiences with conservation-related resettlement, and I am writing about gender, race, labor, and land. In this and in other work, my aim is to understand and enable just conservation. By this I mean the enhancement of ecological systems in the face of pressing global change, the well-being and empowerment of vulnerable communities, equity in benefits derived from the environment, and protections for biological and cultural diversity.
I recently received (with Dr. Dana Powell, Anthropology) the Chancellor’s Innovation Scholars Grant for our forthcoming collaboration, Environmental Justice and Climate Action in North Carolina. The project merges and innovates curriculum from our respective departments to create a field-based learning experience for Appalachian students with community-based researchers and environmental justice leaders through the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN).
Witter, R. and T. Satterfield. 2019. Rhino poaching and the “slow violence” of conservation-related resettlement in Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park. Geoforum 101: 275–284.
England, L. J. Carlisle, R. Witter, D. Davidson, L. Holman, and D. Powell. 2019. Storying Climate Change at Appalachian State University. Practicing Anthropology 41 (3): 21–26.
Witter, R. and T. Satterfield. 2018. The Ebb and Flow of Indigenous Rights Recognitions in Conservation Policy. Development and Change 50 (4): 1083–1108.
Ekblom, A., M. Notelid, and R. Witter. 2017. Negotiating identity and heritage through authorised vernacular history, Limpopo National Park. Journal of Social Archaeology. 17(1): 49–68.
Witter, R., K. Marion-Suiseeya, R. Gruby, S. Hitchner, E. Maclin, M. Bourque, J. Brosius. 2015. Moments of Influence in Global Environmental Governance. Environmental Politics. (Published online 3 July 2015)
Witter, R. and T. Satterfield. 2014. Invisible Losses and the Logics of Resettlement Compensation. Conservation Biology 28(5): 1394-1402.
Corson, C., R. Gruby, R. Witter, S. Hagerman, D. Suarez, S. Greenburg, M. Bourque, N. Gray, and L. Campbell. 2014. Everyone’s solution? Defining and re-defining protected areas through the Convention on Biological Diversity. Conservation & Society 12: 190-202.
Witter, R. 2013. Elephant-induced displacement and the power of choice: Moral narratives and conservation related resettlement in Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park. Conservation & Society 11: 406-419.
Hagerman, S., R. Witter, C. Corson, D. Suarez, E. Maclin, M. Bourque, L. Campbell. 2012. On the coattails of climate? Opportunities and threats of a warming Earth for biodiversity conservation. Global Environmental Change 22:724-735.
Russell, D., R. Ashley, J. P. Brosius, R. Witter, M. Welch-Devine, K. Spainhower, and R. Barr. 2010. People, Trees and Parks: Is Agroforestry In or Out? Journal of Sustainable Forestry 29:451-476.
Department: Sustainable Development
Email address: Email me
Phone: (828) 262-3008