Human Ecology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 95–107 | Cite as

Regulation, Conservation, and Collaboration: Ecological Anthropology in the Mississippi Delta

  • Eleanor E. ShoremanEmail author
  • Nora Haenn


Overintensification and subsidies have long made American commodity farmers the enemy of conservationists. Yet, environmental conditions are improving in the Mississippi Delta where farmer-based groups, water management districts and conservation organizations have improved environmental quality and redefined the role of agriculture in environmental preservation. This work is all the more remarkable given the region’s deeply conservative politics that discourage regulation. This paper examines this mainstreaming of environmental values in light of debates on the role of the state in fostering environmental subjectivities. Following cultural examinations of the state, we caution that the presence or retreat of the state is insufficient to understanding environmental subjectivities. Instead, an ethnographic focus is necessary to identify connections between the state and particular human-environment relations. In the Delta, this focus shows that local environmentalism is consonant with a politics of unsustainability, one that simultaneously advances radical ecological change and defense of the region’s social hierarchies.


Community-based conservation United States Neoliberalism Autonomy Environmentality Anti-environmentalism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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