Australasian Animal Studies Association

Chao, Dr Sophie

DECRA Fellow and Lecturer in Anthropology

The University of Sydney

Sophie Chao
Research interests / activities

I am an environmental anthropologist interested in the intersections of capitalism, ecology, Indigeneity, health, and justice in the Pacific. My theoretical thinking is inspired by interdisciplinary currents including the environmental humanities and Science and Technology Studies, as well as Indigenous, Postcolonial, and Critical Race Studies. My first book, In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua (Duke University Press, 2022), explores how mass deforestation and monocrop oil palm expansion reconfigure the relations of Indigenous Marind communities to animals, plants, and ecosystems (recipient of the Inaugural Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award). I am currently working on a second book, provisionally titled Tantalus in the Tropics: Indigenous Theories of Hunger from the West Papuan Oil Palm Frontier, that examines interspecies relations of eating and being eaten in rural West Papua. In 2022, I will embark on a DECRA project that aims to reveal the diverse perceptions, knowledges and practices shaping human-kangaroo relations in Australia. Using inter-disciplinary and multi-sited methods, this project expects to generate innovative empirical and conceptual insights into the contested status of the kangaroo as native species and pest, food resource and political symbol. I am keen to forge meaningful collaborations and conversations with Indigenous and decolonial academics, artists, and activists in Australia and beyond, towards a better understanding of and relation to, morethanhuman worlds.