The Culture

of Nature

     Adrian Ivakhiv's Research Hub

        From a Bread and Puppet Theatre performance in Glover, Vermont. Photo by A. Ivakhiv

 Overview           Pilgrimage, Politics, Religion & Nature             Ecologies of Identity

    Nature/Culture Theory           Ecocriticism & Visual Culture              Miscellany

My research and teaching interests constellate at the intersections of environmental thought (environmental ethics and philosophy) and cultural studies (issues of cultural identity, ethnicity and regionalism, nationalism and transnationalism, media studies, visual culture, social justice), or what could be called "the culture of nature."

They include

Pilgrimage, Politics, Religion & Nature

Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001). Click to read excerpts on Amazon. Or click here to read the first chapter.

Read the first chapter here.

A few reviewer's comments:

“An important contribution to a field where theoretical and epistemological polarization is threatening to disrupt the dialogue.”
–O. A. Berkaak, University of Oslo, American Ethnologist

“Adrian Ivakhiv has not only written a fascinating book about Glastonbury and Sedona, but contributes (cogently, powerfully and importantly) to debates about pilgrimage, politics, modernity, post-modernity, globalisation, consumerism, materialism, spirituality, diversity, particularism, sectarianism, and much more.”        – Graham Harvey, Open University, The Pomegranate

“The case studies of Glastonbury and Sedona are fascinating reading. Further, Adrian Ivakhiv convinces us that what matters about sacred sites is not what makes them sacred but how multiple actors, at least one of which is non-human, struggle, negotiate, and ultimately orchestrate what can and cannot happen there.”          --Jennifer Daryl Slack, Michigan Technological University

“Ivakhiv packed his ‘sociology of religion’ template with him on his journey and the results are fascinating. . . . Superb analysis.”
-Ferenc M. Szasz, University of New Mexico, Choice

Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature


Nature/Culture Theory

Ecologies of Identity

Ecologies of Identity: Culture, Nature, and Enchantment in the Spaces of the Global If the twenty-first century portends to be a time of environmental conflicts – over oil and other scarce resources, and over the potentially debilitating effects of global climate change – it is also one in which ethnic or identity conflicts loom equally large. Globalization intensifies the movement of people, goods, images and ideas: in its wake, cultural identities adapt by becoming more global and blurred, but also by a resistant assertion of differences. Ecologies of Identity will examine cultural change in the face of the twin waves of globalization and environmental crisis. Just as the rise of the nation-state found national elites crafting links between cultural heritage and territory, so the fitful emergence of a nascently global community shows signs of new connections being forged between environment and identity at a range of scales, from the local to the global. This book will focus on what constitutes “nature” at such sites, and how it in turn constitutes (individual and collective) subjectivity: from Hollywood representations of environmental threats and scientific and media discourses of global weather events to scholarly theories of ‘cosmopolitan citizenship’ and ‘ecological identity,’ from UNESCO World Heritage sites to world music festivals, environmental ‘negative heritage’ sites, and places of ‘Gaian pilgrimage.’

... at the edge of Canada

... in Ukraine and Eastern/Central Europe

Culture & Identity at the Ukraine-EU Boundaries of the EU. . . Carpathians in Transition. . .

With the recent expansion of the European Union to encompass several former Eastern Bloc countries, Europe’s new ‘Schengen’ border now runs down the middle of the continent’s largest mountain chain, the Carpathian mountains. While the stricter new border regulations are expected to present a setback for economic development of non-EU border regions, a series of transboundary initiatives, including the Carpathian Euroregion, the Carpathian Ecoregion Initiative, and the Carpathian Convention, have begun to focus on developing a broadly ‘ecoregional’ strategy for sustainable development. In the light of these seemingly contradictory developments and of the complex ethnic fabric of the region, this research project will examine the role of cultural and regional identity in affecting the possibilities for regional transboundary cooperation in the Carpathian basin. It will trace the development of cross-border cooperation between the nations involved and the levels of local and regional participation in such cooperation, and will test the hypothesis that environmental conservation can play an instrumental role in transboundary and inter-ethnic peace-building. In the process, it will attempt to identify both obstacles and opportunities for further development of a Carpathian regional sustainable development strategy.

Romancing the Steppes: Nature, Nation, and ‘Deep Identity’ in Post-Soviet Ukraine This study focuses on the uses of and contestations over prehistory, especially over archaeological materials and imagined reconstructions of the ancient cultures of Ukraine (Slavic, proto-Slavic, Scythian, Trypillian, Indo-European/Indo-Aryan), by the “native faith” movement and related “traditionalist” developments in literature, the arts, and the educational system. Promoting a “native” Ukrainian identity as a form of resistance to cultural globalization, Westernization, and/or Russian cultural domination, these movements can be viewed as forms of postcolonial liberation, far-right nationalism, or as parts of a broader East European and Eurasian trend toward ethnically defined “cultural ecology.” This research stems from previous work I have done on Ukrainian environmentalism and nationalism, and is part of a longer-term project on landscape and heritage in Ukraine.

Ecocriticism & Visual Culture

Over the past decade or so, ‘ecocriticism’ has established itself reasonably well within literary scholarship. But it has yet to do so in the other arts. What would a ‘green’ film and visual scholarship look like? It may ask questions of the relationship between visual representation and social and ecological reality (such as Mitman’s and Bouse’s studies of wildlife documentary); it may seek to delineate ‘positive’ versus ‘negative’ images of nature, of environmental activism, and of human-environment relations (see Ingram’s Green Screen); or it may probe both the limitations and potentials offered by film and visual media – including the potential to expand awareness, empathy, and understanding across species and across socio-ecological cultural differences (see MacDonald’s Garden in the Machine, Burt’s Animals in Film, and recent work on ethnographic cinema, ‘cultures of vision,’ etc.). The challenge is to put these together…


A multicultural ecological theory aims to hold in productive tension the realist assertions of ecology with the constructivist underpinnings of contemporary cultural theory. See “Toward a Multicultural Ecology,” Organization and Environment 15 (4), 2002, 389-409. Go back up.

Cosmopolitan bioregionalism: On cosmopolitanism, I’ve been influenced by the work of Ulrich Beck and other sociologists who examine some of the more positive sides of cultural globalization, postmodernization, and ‘cosmopolitanization.’ On bioregionalism, click here for something I wrote years ago on bioregionalism and ritual when I lived in the Oak Ridges Bioregion in Toronto. The combination of the two terms was first articulated (to my knowledge) by bioregionalist Mitch Thomashow. Go back up.