Jennifer Lee Johnson’s research is historically rooted, ethnographically engaged, and focused at the confluence of gender, illegality, and the ontological politics of sustainability. Johnson’s current book project, based on long-term research in and around Africa’s largest body of freshwater, examines how stories about the past shape and are shaped by contemporary environmental policy debates, and how alternative—but no less accurate—accounts of linked transformations in social and ecological life may inspire more livable futures. By focusing on the ontologically distinct worlds that fish and fisheries inhabit and inspire—as material things, practices, and concepts that straddle the artificial divide between nature and culture—Johnson’s research examines possible coexistence of multiple realities that are brought into existence and sometimes into extinction across time and place.
Johnson is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2014 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University from 2014 to 2015. Her previous research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the University of Michigan, and Purdue and Yale Universities.
RCC Research Project: Littoral Politics: Submerged Histories of an Inland African Sea
- with Laura Zanotti, Zhao Ma, David J. Yu, David R. Johnson, Alison Kirkham, and Courtney Carothers. “Interplays of Sustainability, Resilience, Adaptation, and Transformation.” In Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research, edited by Walter Leal Filho, Robert W. Marans, and John Callewaert. World Sustainability Series. New York, NY: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2017
- “Fish.” Somatosphere (8 December 2017).
- “Eating and Existence on an Island in Southern Uganda.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 37, no. 1 (May 2017): 2–23. (Awarded the 2017 Anthropology and Environment Society Junior Scholar Award)
- with Bakaaki Robert. “Working with Fish in the Shadows of Sustainability.” In Subsistence under Capitalism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, edited by James Ernest Murton, Dean Bavington, and Carly A. Dokis, 195–233. Rural, Wildland, and Resource Studies Series 4. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016.
- “Managerial Technologies, [Il]legal Livelihoods and the Forgotten Consumers of Africa’s Largest Freshwater Fishery.” In Landscape and Environment in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa, edited by Toyin Falola and Emily Brownell, 248–70. Routledge African Studies. New York: Routledge, 2012.
- “From Mfangano to Madrid: The Global Commodity Chain for Kenyan Nile Perch.” Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management 13, no. 1 (2010): 20–27.