Karlis Rokpelnis

Saturday October 03, 2015

Karlis Rokpelnis

 

Karlis Rokpelnis 

GESA 2015  |  Latvia  |  Ethnoecologist

 

My mid- to long-term professional goal is to pursue an academic career in both applied research and teaching that spans an increasingly integrated Chinese and foreign academic worlds and focuses on ethnicity and environment.

I grew up in Latvia during an era of immense and fundamental social change related to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was heavily hued by both environmental awareness and ethnic sentiments. Interest in the overlap between the two has been the fundamental guiding theme for me since then. Through living and studying in Canada, the US, the UK, and most recently China, I have learned of other aspects of this nexus: indigenous lands rights, sacred knowledge, traditional resource management, and post-modern marketing of “ethnic foods” as clean and sustainable.

China offers fascinating opportunities for field research, and a supportive, albeit challenging, academic environment. I have made a commitment to working here as a researcher and a teacher, and am enjoying it immensely.

For my dissertation research, I am employing cultural domain analysis tools to explore the extent to which community differences in Ningxia are contributing to the highly contradictory assessments of its land conditions. I have been successful in carrying out ongoing fieldwork, interviewing and observing villagers and local officials. I also enjoy working with research colleagues and students back in the capital, and teaching foreign students who come to China for life-transforming experiences.

Karlis Rokpelnis - in the field 1

Using quantitative methods to examine the differences in grassland change perceptions.

Karlis Rokpelnis - in the field 2

The little school on the side of the desert: talking to students to learn about their take on land and the desert.

Working in the drylands of Ningxia is as unpredictable as the climate there: harshness overlaps with kindness, poverty with opulence, and grandeur with simplicity.

Working in the drylands of Ningxia is as unpredictable as the climate there: harshness overlaps with kindness, poverty with opulence, and grandeur with simplicity.

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