Current CLAS graduate student, Gordon Ulmer, is a Fulbright-Hays fellow and PhD candidate in the department of anthropology who recently returned to the U.S. after conducting 16 months of ethnographic research in the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios, Peru for his dissertation. Ulmer has been traveling to Amazonia since 2008 documenting the role labor in biodiversity conservation plays in the lives of local and migrant households. Drawing and innovating on a range of ethnographic methods including semi-structured interviews and surveys, photo/video elicitations, free-listing, and remote digital correspondence, his work focuses on how local and global economic forces coalesce in Madre de Dios and influence social life as it unfolds around labor and the environment.
His dissertation specifically examines the material, social, and cultural outcomes for families that have depended on livelihoods in both natural resource extraction (e.g. alluvial gold mining, logging, hunting) and biodiversity conservation (park guarding, ecotourism, NGO work.). Ulmer is currently teaching an upper-level undergraduate anthropology course entitled “Crisis! An Anthropological Perspective of Global Issues” at The Ohio State while he works on his dissertation. He enjoys mobilizing his fieldwork experiences in Amazonia to animate concepts and themes in the classroom.
Gold Mining on the Madre de Dios River
The Acre River in the tri-border region of Peru, Brazil and Bolivia
Ecotourism students in traditional selvatico costumes for World Tourism Day Parade in Puerto Maldonado
Picture of Gordon Ulmer waiting for boat taxi on the Madre de Dios river