“Imagining a More Just World”: Interview with Julie Maldonado

29 July 2020

It is difficult to canonize anthropology and anthropological concepts, in part because of the creative tensions within the discipline’s contradictions: a desire and deep respect for local knowledge with a global, comparative perspective, what might be called the “anthropological imagination.” Firmly rooted in—and in defense of—an inclusive vision of humanity, an anthropological imagination inspires “radical empathy.” It offers the scaffolding of a coalitional politics that values the specificity of local struggles but also reaffirms and defends humanity. We must identify the humanity in others, and the common humanity in their struggle, while affirming particular identities and challenging differential privilege: an anthropological imagination inspires radical empathy and solidarity, reminding us, in the words of the World Social Forum, that “another world is possible.” How people learn to cultivate this anthropological imagination and bring it in the service of marginalized groups is not generally discussed, and rarely taught. This article aims to bridge this gap. On October 10, 2018, Julie Maldonado, Associate Director for the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN), discussed her new book, Seeking Justice in an Energy Sacrifice Zone: Standing on Vanishing Land in Coastal Louisiana, via video‐conference with Mark Schuller’s Anthropology and Contemporary World Problems class at Northern Illinois University. This interview offers one perspective of a career focused around advocacy anthropology that aims to reach public audiences and policy‐ and decision‐makers in ways that translates scholarly research into information that is most useful for problem solving and enacting change in response to our climate crisis.

Climate Change Policy: Bigger Picture Policies

Under the banner of a just transition, we’ve seen some great work to develop things like the RECLAIM Act and include in that the value of community participation in planning for the use of public revenues from the Abandoned Mine Land funds. While imperfectly implemented so far, that was the beginnings of a model for the ways in which you could get a region off the addiction of fossil fuels by combining the environmental reclamation money with community empowerment and participation, as well as job creation. We see a great potential for breaking the idea that its jobs vs. the environment by linking grassroots livelihood and job creation with healing from fossil fuel damage.” – Betsy Taylor, Director at Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN)

5 Organizations Working To Improve Lives In Appalachia

Edited by Gregg Parker on 10 July 2020

The Appalachian region is filled with rich culture and natural beauty, but it’s also plagued by enduring economic hardship due to decades of capitalist exploitation. The organizations here all work to support its diverse communities, providing services and other opportunities to restore and maintain the region’s vitality for future generations. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Princeton Alumni News: Karen Rignall ’92 *94: Understanding Appalachia Through Storytelling

High school students in Rignall’s Stories of Place project visited a coal-impoundment lake and found that a family cemetery had been established on its banks about 150 years ago.
Karen Rignall ’92 *94

When most Americans think of the coal region of eastern Kentucky, they think of poverty — but Karen Rignall ’92 *94 is determined to help residents of Martin County, Ky., tell their own stories. 

 An assistant professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Community and Leadership Development and in the Department of Sociology, Rignall obtained a $50,000 public-engagement fellowship from the Whiting Foundation in 2018 to help her undertake a project she has called “Stories of Place in Martin County.” The project enables area high school students and their families to reexamine their community — physically, historically, and socially — to develop a better understanding of what it has been through and what it might become.


Global Positive News Network interview with Betsy Taylor
October 20, 2019 Full Measure with Sharyl Attkinson interview with Craig Williams


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September 24, 2016
Re-imagine the Future

LiKENeer, Betsy Taylor, participated in a small gathering to discuss  “Operationalizing Green Governance:  New Policy Strategies for Large-Scale Ecosystems and Resources”. La Bergerie de Villarceaux, France, sponsored by the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation. June 22-25.

This film captures some interviews with participants in that event.
“We need a new common sense that recognizes that each individual’s survival depends on his/her relationship with others, with the community, and with the environment’. (Ugo Mattei)