Dean Bavington – Natural Resource Management

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Dean Bavington is a Canada Research Chair in Environmental History a Nippising University.

This is the first in a series of scholars profiles, modeled on the popular New Scholars Profiles begun earlier this year.

Dean Bavington is a Canada Research Chair in Environmental History at Nippising University in North Bay Ontario. His research focuses on the history, politics and ethics of managerial relationships with nature. Along with an impressive number of papers from this research (see his CV here), Dean published his first monograph earlier this year with UBC press. A paperback edition of Managed Annihilation: An Unnatural History of the Newfoundland Cod Collapse, is due out in November 2010. A lengthy interview with the CBC radio show Ideas (audio is here) and attention to his book in the New Yorker magazine demonstrates the relevancy of his work to understanding current issues in global fisheries particularly the deleterious consequences of managerial relationships between fish and people.

Along with his impressive publications profile, Dean works to develop new collaborative multidisciplinary projects with international researchers at universities in the United States, Norway, and Canada. Closer to home, he works with colleagues at Nipissing University and environmental organizations in Ontario. With Dr. James Murton (Associate Professor, Nipissing University), he has created a funded research network on Vernacular Environmental History and facilitated a unique environmental history workshop on the topic of Subsistence. The papers presented at the Subsistence workshop will be published in a new Environmental History series that he and Dr. Murton helped to arrange with McGill- Queen’s University Press.

Despite his focus on the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada, Dean is committed to working with local communities in Northern Ontario to highlight the connections between social and environmental problems in his new community. He collaborates with Dr. Katrina Srigley (Associate Professor, Nipissing University) on Laurentian University’s Community University Research Alliance (CURA) on the topic of Northern Ontario poverty, homelessness and environmental justice. They also worked on developing a research partnership protocol for Nipissing University and the Nipissing First Nation.

Looking forward, the new focus of Dean’s work is on recent attempts to reform natural resource management through participatory techniques and the integration of traditional and local ecological knowledge. He explains that “Participatory management, while using the rhetoric of empowerment and democratic decision making, often reinscribes new forms of power relations that continue to place scientists and managers in control and expose the targets of participatory techniques to increasing responsibilities without commensurate resources. Moves toward the incorporation of traditional and local ecological knowledge into NRM programs often act as reductive translation exercises that mine “ways of knowing and living” for data that is compatible with scientific resource managers and their bureaucratic agencies without fundamentally challenging structures of institutional power and ways of knowing that have proven to be undemocratic and ineffective when practiced on the ground.” Dean, along with his colleague James Murton (who I hope to profile in the future) have created a strong centre of Canadian environmental history in a small university in North Bay and together they represent an important node in the Network in Canadian History and Environment.

For more information see:

Featured image: Shot from outside cupola of caboose 107 on September 7, 1965, near Tomiko, Ontario. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

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Dean Bavington

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