Australian anthropology and how humans control their environment

Anthropologist Doug Bird discusses his work with the native Martu peoples of Australia, their perceptions of environment, the history of landscape modification in the remote and harsh Western dessert, and how the spread of homo sapiens relates to the Anthropocene.

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Contributor

Doug Bird
Doug Bird is an anthropologist at Stanford University, whose research interests include ethno-archaeology, the ecology of resource use, and the changing landscapes in both western North America and Australia.  Doug usually splits his time between campus and the Western Desert of Australia, where he works on his primary research – the Martu Ecological Anthropology Project – a study which investigates foraging practice, land use, and fire regimes among indigenous Martu. Back at Stanford, he teaches in the Anthropology Department and is involved in the Comparative Wests Project in the Bill Lane Center for the American West, the Spatial History Lab, and the Environmental Venture Project in the Woods Institute.

Interviewer

Alexandra Peers
Alex is a junior majoring in Human Biology, with an Area of Concentration in Human Ecology. Her studies investigate the interplay between people and their environments, and how people from various societies think about and then interact with nature. She’s not sure what she wants to do with her life after college, but she’s interested in science communication, especially after taking Podcasting the Anthropocene. In her free time she works on backstage technical theater in Ram’s Head Theatrical Society, working on building sets, making those special effects shine, and spending way too much time in Memorial Auditorium.

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