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Betsy Taylor

Senior Research Scholar
Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Theory| (859)229-2404


Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology, University of Michigan (1992)

Areas of specialization
public involvement and democratic deliberation
participatory research and planning
globalization and global regional studies
environmental and social justice movements
social theory and philosophical anthropology
feminist development studies

Courses taught and programs
Environmental and development studies, Social and critical theory, Qualitative and participatory methods, Gender and women studies, Appalachian studies, Cultural anthropology, Religious studies cross-culturally

Betsy Taylor recently joined Virginia Tech's Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Theory [ASPECT] as Senior Research Scholar responsible for program development and fundraising for ASPECT's emerging Center for Democratic Planning and Participatory Research (CDPPR). Before joining ASPECT, she served as Research Director for the Appalachian Center and was on the faculty of the Social Theory program at the University of Kentucky, where she also served as co-director of Environmental Studies. At the University of Kentucky she initiated and directed the Common Knowledge Alliance, which catalyzed various projects of community-based and participatory action research in the Appalachian coalfields. She has worked on many projects for community-driven, integrated development in central Appalachia and India‚ including health, agriculture, forestry, culture and environmental stewardship. Much of her work in the past 10 years has focused on developing programs for community/academic partnership for long-term democratic planning for sustainable regional development. Public outreach is important, but as crucial is inreach to academe critical reflection and action so academe can better serve the public interest. Her recent work focuses on institutional transformation to nurture transdisciplinary, scholarly communities for public interest research. At University of Kentucky, she was co-director (with Wolfgang Natter and Herbert Reid) of the (2001-05) Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship Program on Civic Professionalism and Global Regionalism: Justice, Sustainability, and the 'Scaling Up' of Community Participation".

Betsy Taylor has been invited to speak at numerous public forums and civil society gatherings in Appalachia and internationally on questions of democratic planning, environmental stewardship and social justice. As a cultural anthropologist, her primary ethnographic fieldwork has been in Central Appalachia and Northeast India. Her current research is on emerging forms of civil society, community-based natural resource management, place-based planning and alternatives to economic globalizations. Her scholarly writings engage questions of environmental imaginaries and identities, the construction of identity (gender, class, place, ethnicity, religious), the constitution of public space, regimes of knowledge and the articulation of local/professionalized knowledges, participatory action research and public involvement strategies. She has also taught at Albion College and the University of North Carolina.

Recent Publications
(co-authored with Herbert Reid) Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place, and Global Justice. Champaign: University of Illinois Press. 2009.

Place as pre-political grounds of democracy: an Appalachian case study in class conflict, forest politics and civic networks, American Behavioral Scientist, in special issue on "Democracy in an Age of Networked Governance: Charting the Currents of Change(edited by Joyce Rothschild and Max Stephenson, Jr.). 52 (6): 826-845. February. 2009.

(with Herbert G. Reid) “Ecological Ontology and Landscapes of Democratic Struggle in Globalization Politics: Residual, Emergent, And Transformative Dimensions” in Ananta Kumar Giri (Ed), The Modern Prince and the Modern Sage: Transforming Power and Freedom.New Delhi: Sage Publications. 2009

“Grounds for democratic hope in Arunachal Pradesh: emerging civic geographies and the reinvention of gender and tribal identities", in Sanjib Baruah (ed.)Beyond Counterinsurgency: Breaking the Impasse in Northeast India.New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 308-328. 2009

“Ricoeur’s Challenge for 21st Century Anthropology”, Ananta Kumar Giri and John Clammer (Eds.), Philosophy and Anthropology: Border Crossing and Transformations. New Delhi: Shipra Publications. Forthcoming

(with Herbert G. Reid) Globalization, Democracy, and the Aesthetic Ecology of Emergent Publics for a Sustainable World: Working From John Dewey in special issue edited by Ananta Kumar Giri, on The Modern Prince and the Modern Sage (II): Power, Resistance and Non-Violence in Asian Journal of Social Sciences Volume 34 (1), 2006, pp. 22-46. 2006.

Gender and the global struggle to reclaim the commons: civic environmentalism, anti-globalization and participatory research in special issue on Women and Sustainability: from Rio de Janeiro (1992) to Johannesburg (2002), Canadian Womens Studies/Les Cahiers de la femme, Vol. 23 (1):62-66 (Winter) 2003.

Appalachian Music Preservation Project Cultural Plan: a musician-centered assessment of assets and barriers in the musical life of Pike County. Policy report. Joint publication of the Niles Center for American Music and the Appalachian Center, University of Kentucky. 2004.

(with Herbert G. Reid) John Dewey's Ecology of Public Intelligence and the Grounding of Civic Environmentalism. Special Issue on Art, Nature and Social Critique. Ethics and Environment. 8 (1):74-92. Spring. 2003.