Published: April 4, 2020

AAG Knowledge CommunitiesDear friends,

There have been few bright spots in this moment of worldwide upheaval, which makes it a privilege to share some positive news on the CAPE front. As we and our colleagues moved our work off campus, assumed greater care responsibilities, suspended research plans, and rescheduled events, the CAPE Board also moved forward with the matters we could still attend to, including officer elections and the review of five awards. I'd like to share a digest of the latest CAPE news in lieu of the Business Meeting we typically hold at the AAG conference. 


We had another robust round of nominations and applications this year, and we are excited to announce the following recipients of our faculty and student awards.

Distinguished Career Award

Dr. Kendra McSweeney (The Ohio State University)

Aside from her many accomplishments, perhaps what most captured our attention about Dr. McSweeney's profile was the incredible breadth of her scholarship. A rare three-degree geographer, she has published on ethnobotany, forest dependency, the dugout canoe trade, demography, post-hurricane coping strategies, biodiversity conservation, topographic maps, urbanization of indigenous populations, rural households' livelihoods, plantation agriculture among smallholders, forest recovery, climate disaster and opportunity, health surveys, economic geography for land change science, vaccines, fertility and power in indigenous health, conditional cash transfers, the illicit geography of cocaine, sexual harassment in academia, neocolonialism in corporate social responsibility, drivers of land-climate dynamics, and the military agro-industrial complex. We find Dr. McSweeney's intellectual agility and commitment to diverse publics inspiring and are delighted to recognize her as this year's recipient of the CAPE Distinguished Career Award!

Outstanding Publication

Dr. Ethan Miller (Bates College), Reimagining Livelihoods: Life Beyond Economy, Society, and Environment (University of Minnesota Press)

Dr. Miller's imaginative and empirically-grounded examination of livelihoods serves as a provocation to all cultural and political ecologists to not just question but abandon the "hegemonic trio" of economy, society, and environment. As the nomination letter highlights, "this work shows the often inadvertent complicity of those seeking to transform contemporary realities with the assemblages they seek to change." Not simply a critique, the book advances the livelihoods triad as a map for visualizing and politicizing the ways livelihoods are made. Congratulations to Dr. Miller on receiving the CAPE Outstanding Publication Award!

Scholar-Activist Award

Dr. Jennifer Rice (University of Georgia)

In the second year of this award, we are excited to support Dr. Rice's proposal to develop a "People's Climate Action Plan" with social justice groups in Seattle. This $1000 award will be used to resist ecological gentrification and integrate workers' interests with urban sustainability efforts.

Student Awards

Kripa Dongol

Kripa Dongol

It is a distinct pleasure to support and recognize the research activities of up-and-coming scholars. This year, we expanded our student awards to recognize two students in each category.

  1.  Field Study Award ($750 each)
    1. Kripa Dongol (University of Colorado Boulder): "Environmental Narratives and Embodied Experiences in Nepal's Water Infrastructure: Perspectives from the intake sites of the Melamchi Water Supply Project"
    2. Zachary Goldberg (Penn State): "Exploring Socio-Technical Transitions: Farmer Perspectives of Energy Systems in Pennsylvania"
  2. Student Paper Award ($250 each)
    1. Kevin Inks (University of Wisconsin – Madison): "Reimagining a Violent Landscape: Disaster, Displacement, and Cartographic Imagination in the Brahmaputra River Valley"
    2. Elizabeth Shoffner (University of Washington): "(Re)producing the selva paranaense: Settler colonial territoriality as environmental management"

AAG Events

Two dozen CAPE-sponsored sessions will be held virtually. You can find information regarding session themes, abstracts, times, and online access listed here. We aim to reschedule the CAPE plenary sessions featuring the 2019 faculty awardees at the annual meeting in Detroit next year.


We have a new CAPE Board! Thank you for participating in our online poll. Please join me in welcoming our new CAPE Officers.

  • Chair (2020-2022): Za Barron (Norwegian University of Science and Technology,
  • At-Large Councilors (2020-2022): Chris Knudson (University of Hawaii at Hilo) and Ingrid Nelson (University of Vermont)
  • Student Representatives (2020-2022): Erica Borg (King's College London), Kripa Dongol (University of Colorado Boulder), Laura Williams (University of Hawai`i Mānoa), Jennifer Langill (McGill University)

These new officers join existing Board members:

  • Vice-Chair (2019-2021): Kelly Kay (UCLA)
  • At-Large Councilors (2019-2021): Patrick Bigger (Lancaster University), Deepti Chatti (Humboldt State University)
  • Student Representative (2019-2021): Nicole Van Lier (University of Toronto)

Many thanks to Emma Colven (At-Large Councilor, 2018-2020) and Stepha Velednitsky (Student Representative, 2018-2020) for their tremendous contributions to CAPE over the past two years. During their tenure on the Board, they reviewed dozens of award applications, organized AAG events, and assisted with general operations. We wish them the best on their next steps.

And with that, I sign off as CAPE Chair. It's been an honor to serve on the Board for the last four years and to see our specialty group usher in several exciting changes during this time. Thanks, everyone!

Be well,



Assistant Professor
Temple University