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Lauren Baker has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, specializing in social and political ecology. Her work focuses on indigenous development and social movements, identity politics, environmental justice, environmental governance, and the political ecology and political economy of natural resource extraction as a form of development. Lauren’s dissertation, Just Concessions? Indigenous Politics and Oil Development in the Peruvian Amazon, examines indigenous rights claims that were articulated in relation to recent and expansive oil operations in the northeast Peruvian Amazon and the ways in which such claims were simultaneously silenced, contested, and contained even while being addressed head-on by Peruvian officials and bureaucrats. As a postdoctoral fellow at the PBRC, Lauren will continue to examine indigenous contention over the oil industry in the years following the declaration of oil-related environmental emergencies in 4 watersheds in the northeast Peruvian Amazon, which on the one hand marks increased state acknowledgment of the social and environmental problems stemming from the oil industry, but on the other hand have been highly bounded and exclude from consideration any deviations from current extraction-focused political economies.
Lauren will also teach two courses: “Indigenous Development and Social Movements” in the fall and “Introduction to the Pacific Basin” in the spring. In both courses, we focus heavily on the politics that surround environment and development projects and policies in diverse areas and cultures worldwide, and especially the ways in which dominant development models and forms of environmental management have prioritized certain forms of expertise, authority, and even racialized rule, while often deprioritizing, depoliticizing, or making invisible alternative claims and epistemologies toward the environment. We also examine the new forms of knowledge, social organization, and identity that have followed in the wake of globalization and neoliberal development, including those in relation to social movements that have organized to defend local rights to land and resources in the face of extra-local claims those same lands and resources. Students will engage with these concepts through active dialogue, debates, and presentations based on academic readings, multimedia sources, popular press, and independent research.