Department of Anthropology

Jason Cons


Assistant ProfessorPhD, Cornell University

Jason Cons

Contact

Interests


Borders, security, climate change, agrarian change, development, political ecology; South Asia, Bangladesh

Biography


Jason Cons is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He works on borders in South Asia, climate and agrarian change, and rural development. He has conducted extensive research in Bangladesh on a range of issues including: climate security, disputed territory along the India-Bangladesh border, the impacts of shrimp aquaculture in coastal areas, the politics of development, and recipient experiences with microcredit. His current research is situated in the Sundarbans region and explores the ways that imaginations of the impacts of future climate change are shaping the delta and the India-Bangladesh border in the present. His first book, Sensitive Space: Anxious Territory at the India-Bangladesh Border, was published by the University of Washington Press in 2016. His work has appeared in Cultural Anthropology, Political Geography, Modern Asian Studies, Ethnography, SAMAJ, Antipode, Third-World Quarterly, and The Journal of Peasant Studies. He is also an associate editor of the journal South Asia. He is the editor, with Michael Eilenberg, of a volume titled Frontier Assemblages: The Emergent Politics of Resource Frontiers in Asia for Wiley’s Antipode Book Series and is co-editing a special issue if Limn on “chokepoints.”

Cons has served as the Director of Research and Project Design at the Goldin Institute in Chicago. He was previously an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Bucknell University. Cons’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, Oxfam America, the Atkinson Center for Sustainability at Cornell University, the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, and the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies. He completed his degree in Development Sociology at Cornell University in 2011.

Courses


ANT 330C • Theories Of Culture & Society

31525 • Fall 2017
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM SAC 4.118

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a set of core ideas and propositions in social

theory broadly and theories of culture and society specifically. The course aims to do this by teaching

strategies for thinking with and against, writing about, using, and engaging theoretical texts. The course

works forward from the mid-19th century, engaging a highly selective set of thinkers who provide core

foundations in contemporary social and anthropological thought. It then moves into a series of

explorations of the ways that anthropological theories of culture and society written in the early and

mid-twentieth century continue to fuel debates in anthropology today. It closes with a brief

introduction to a series of transformations in social and cultural theory from the 1970s forward,

particularly postcolonial theory and post-structuralism. The course makes no claim to be

comprehensive. Rather, it aims to teach students how to work with and through social theory and to

prepare them for further encounters with social theory in academic work and in the “world beyond.”

The course is conceived primarily for majors but above all for students who are committed to working

with difficult, influential, and fascinating texts. The course combines lecture and seminar discussion. The

course integrates an intense and demanding regime of reading and discussion with an equally intense

and demanding program of writing. The aim is to encourage students to develop the habit of writing

clear and concise prose, especially when engaging with difficult and complex ideas.

ANT 391 • State Territory Sovereignty

31620 • Fall 2017
Meets W 1:00PM-4:00PM SAC 5.118

This course provides a rigorous introduction to the anthropology of the state. Focusing primarily on key theoretical interventions within anthropology and cognate disciplines, the course introduces a set different ways to understand the exercise and accomplishment of rule. Course readings are oriented around a series of key questions and debates in both historical and contemporary discussion of state power. Namely, the course asks:

·       What is the state?

·       What does it mean to examine “state formation” historically and ethnographically?

·       What different forms (states?) might a state take?

·       What is state power and how does it work?

·       How might one understand and trace everyday experiences of and encounters with the state?

·       What is the relationship between sovereignty, violence, and legitimacy?

·       What is territory and how is it lived?

The course explores different ways that these questions have been engaged in Marxian thought, post-structural critique, and other schools of critical social theory. Though course readings are primarily theoretical in content, the course is targeted broadly at students interested in carrying out ethnographic and/or historical qualitative research on questions related to politics, power, and rule.

ANT 324L • Political Ecology

31270 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM SAC 4.120

Over the past three decades, Political Ecology has emerged as a powerful interdisciplinary critique of ecological change. Simply put, Political Ecology is a strategy for mapping political, economic, and social factors onto questions of environmental degradation and transformation. Political Ecology has been a powerful strategy for reinserting politics into apolitical discussions of ecology and the environment; writing disposed groups—human and non-human—back into discussions about conservation; and unsettling common sense understandings of “the environment” as separate from “the social.” This course will provide an introduction to core tenets of political ecology. Particularly focusing on ethnographic approaches, this course will introduce students to key debates in the field—such as the relationship between environment and violence, the critique of Malthusian and neo-Malthusian notions of scarcity and limits, the links between conservation and dispossession, and more. It will further explore the uses of political ecology in key contemporary debates over social and environmental change—from food production to water management. 

ANT 391 • Anthropology Of Development

31442 • Spring 2017
Meets T 1:00PM-4:00PM SAC 5.124

Development—with its complicated relationship to modernity, progress, nature, and empire—remains one of the central and most challenging concepts of the contemporary moment. This course explores the complex and contested meanings of development and humanitarianism through rich ethnographies of aid. Situating current debates against longer trajectories of development, we will explore issues such as the use of technology in intervention; the role of development and aid in debates over security, climate, and migration; the negotiation and meanings of ethics in humanitarian intervention; the contested cultural politics of development; and more. Through reading ethnographies of NGOs, the development state, rural development schemes, “informality” and microenterprise initiatives, cash transfer programs, environmental protection plans, and refugee camps we will thus explore the contemporary state-of-play of development. Along the way, we will question the meanings, roles, and possibilities of, as well as alternatives to, development and humanitarian intervention. 

ANT 391 • Nature, Culture, And Power

31435 • Fall 2016
Meets W 9:00AM-12:00PM SAC 5.118

This graduate seminar offers an in-depth exploration of ethnographic encounters with the politics, political economy, and political ecology of nature. The course will cover a range of lenses for exploring the intersections of nature, culture, and power, including: agrarian and peasant studies, cultural and political ecologies, and science and technology studies. Course readings will encompass both classic and more recent ethnographies of environmental change. The course will provide students with opportunities both to develop critical readings and to explore their own interests in anthropological and critical environmental studies. The course will culminate in a writing project that either develops an analysis of a particular case or outlines a proposal for future research.

ANT 324L • Political Ecology

30365 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM CLA 0.124

 Over the past three decades, Political Ecology has emerged as a powerful interdisciplinary critique of ecological change. Simply put, Political Ecology is a strategy for mapping political, economic, and social factors onto questions of environmental degredation and change. Political Ecology has been a powerful strategy for reinserting politics into apolitical discussions of ecology and the environment; writing disposed groups—human and non-human—back into discussions about conservation; and unsettling common sense understandings of “the environment” as separate from “the social.” This course will provide an introduction to core tenets of political ecology. Particularly focusing on ethnographic approaches, this course will introduce students to key debates in the field—such as the relationship between environment and violence, the critique of Malthusian and neo-Malthusian notions of scarcity and limits, the links between conservation and dispossession, and more. It will further explore the uses of political ecology in key contemporary debates over social and environmental change—from climate change to waste management. 

ANT 324L • Human Securities/Insecurities

30525 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM CLA 0.106

This course explores the various debates, concepts, and issues clustered around human security from an anthropological standpoint. The concept of human security is relatively new, yet it refers to a serious of longstanding challenges including, but not limited to, the deprivations of poverty, vulnerability to environmental change, and risk in conflict and post-conflict situations. In short, it is often referred to as freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom to live life with dignity. This course will ask what “human security” as a term adds to and enables within global intervention. It will ask what is gained or lost when considering issues such as conflict and climate together as "human security." It will explore a range of issues in the broad field of human security, touching on theoretical and practical concerns around climate change, violent conflict, and humanitarian intervention.  It will explore the various meanings of “human” and “security” embedded within the term. Students will engage with these issues through ethnographies of security and insecurity, analyses of the foundational approaches to human security, and in-depth case studies.

Curriculum Vitae


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