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John Moran

RELP Cohort: 2015

John Moran is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University on the Society and Culture Track. His research interests include the cultural politics of environmentalism, biodiversity conservation, and resource use; place and place-based identity and belonging; ecological and cultural heritage; economic development; transnational corporate projects; and the environmental humanities.

Johns dissertation is concerned with the making of ecoregional identity and green development in the United States South, a region where ecological heritage has become a powerful tool for environmentalists and those that seek to implement integrated conservation-development projects. Over twelve months of ethnographic research from summer 2015 to summer 2016, he will work among seafood workers, ecotour guides, marine aquarists, and state officials to investigate how wildlife and waterscapes are drawn upon to reconfigure the cultural politics of environmentalism in the Florida Panhandle.

The site of this project is Wakulla and Franklin Counties, Florida, often named the Forgotten Coast, and the specific focus of the research are two efforts to define the region in the wake of the troubles of Apalachicola Bay. The Bay is facing record-low freshwater inflow, and its bounty of oysters is dwindling, prompting Florida's 2013 lawsuit against Georgia, which the Supreme Court will hear in 2015, the latest iteration in the three-decades-long "Tri-state water wars" between Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the management of water flows in the Apalachicola-Chattahootchee-Flint River Basin. The efforts his dissertation investigates are: 1) efforts to claim that the region is the home of people whose distinctive way of life is inseparable from particular waterscapes, and 2) efforts to make the region a global ecotourism destination and publicize its status as a biodiversity hotspot. It is unclear, in terms of cultural politics and conservation goals, what may come from the valorization of Southern, and often white, ecological heritage and knowledge, as well as the employment of cultural endangerment in legal and political claims regarding regulatory regimes.

John is from Tallahassee, Florida and received his BA in anthropology from the University of Florida, where he was a Lombardi Scholar. He has previously conducted research in Botswana and Peru studying investment, charity, and diplomacy by Chinese state-owned enterprises and the environmental regulation of extraction projects.