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Last Update : June 1, 2005

Barbara Rose Johnston

Barbara Rose Johnston is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Political Ecology and occasional lecturer at UCSC. Barbara is an environmental anthropologist who studies the relationships between environmental crisis and human rights. Her current work explores the community dynamics of water resource management; and, the human environmental impacts of the United States Nuclear Weapons Testing Program as conducted in the Marshall Islands.


Senior Research Fellow, Center for Political Ecology. 10/91 - present. Recent consultative research projects include:
  • Expert Witness, Principle Investigator "Hardships and Consequential Damages from Radioactive Contamination, Denied Use, Exile, and Human Subject Experimentation Experienced by the People of Rongelap, Rongerik, and Ailinginae Atolls" September 2001 (Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nuclear Claims Tribunal);
  • Thematic Review briefing paper for the World Commission on Dams on "Reparations and the Right to Remedy" (July 2000);
  • Series editor for "Endangered Peoples: Struggles to Survive and Thrive in a Globalized World" a seven volume series prepared for the high school and college market published by Greenwood Press (2000-2002)


Works in Progress

Cold War Crimes. This book-length manuscript under preparation documents United States funded biomedical research involving indigenous communities in the Marshall Islands, Alaska, Canada, and South America; the use of indigenous groups as unwitting research subjects in experiments that supported nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs; the human environmental impacts of nuclear and biological weapons tests; the consequential damages of human subject experimentation; and, summarizes the status of efforts to assign accountability and secure some measure of remedy.

"The Commodification of Water and the Human Dimensions of Manufactured Scarcity" in Globalization, Water and Health: Resource Management in Times of Scarcity edited by Linda Whiteford and Scott Whiteford (School for American Research: Santa Fe, New Mexico).

Works in Press

"The Political Ecology of Water: An Introduction" in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism. Volume 14:3, September 2003.

"The Pehuenche: Human Rights, the Environment, and Hydrodevelopment on the Biobio River, Chile" with Carmen Garcia-Downing, in Indigenous Peoples, Development and Environment edited by Harvey Feit and Mario Blaser (Zed Books). In Press.

Published Works: Books

Series Editor, author of the Series Preface. Endangered Peoples: Struggles to Survive and Thrive in a Globalized World (Greenwood Pub. Group, Westport, Connecticut). Endangered Peoples of Southeast and East Asia (Leslie Sponsel, ed.); Endangered Peoples of the Arctic (Milton Freeman, ed.) April 2000; Endangered Peoples of Oceania (Judith Fitzpatrick, ed.) 2000; Endangered Peoples of Latin America (Susan Stonich, ed.) 2001; Endangered Peoples of Europe (Jean Forward, ed.) 2001; Endangered Peoples of North America (Tom Greaves, ed.) 2002; Endangered Peoples of Africa and the Middle East (Robert Hitchcock, ed.) 2002.

Water, Culture and Power. Edited by John Donahue and Barbara Rose Johnston. International case studies exploring the culture and power dynamics of water resource management. (Washington DC: Island Press) 1998.

Life and Death Matters: Human Rights and the Environment at the End of the Millennium. Edited by Barbara Rose Johnston. Case studies exploring the sociocultural and political responses to human environmental crisis. (Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press) 1997.

Who Pays the Price? The Sociocultural Context of Environmental Crisis. Edited by Barbara Rose Johnston. Findings from the Society for Applied Anthropology, Committee on Human Rights and the Environment. (Washington DC: Island Press) 1994. Translated into Arabic in 1996 (Amman: Dar Al Paris). Reprint edition released July 2002.

Public Policy Reports

"Elements of the Professional Life of James V. Neel as Reflected in the Declassified Literature on Human Radiation Experimentation." Commentary essay contained in the Appendix to the American Anthropological Association "Final Report of the Darkness in El Dorado Commission" May 2002. Also published on the web at http://www.gettysburg.edu/~choward/yanomami-response/johnston.html.

"Hardships Endured by the People of Rongelap as a Result of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Program and Related Biomedical Research." Barbara Rose Johnston and Holly Barker. Expert Witness Report, Republic of the Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal. (Public document filed with the RMI Nuclear Claims Tribunal, September 2001). Copies available by request bjohnston@igc.org.

"Reparations and the Right to Remedy." World Commission on Dams briefing paper (July 2000). Contributing Report, Thematic Review 1.3: Displacement, resettlement, reparations, and development. Published on the web in PDF form (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) at http://www.damsreport.org/docs/kbase/contrib/soc221.pdf.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

"Function and Dysfunction: Human Environmental Crisis and the Response Continuum" in Thinking and Engaging the Whole: Essays on Roy Rappaport's Anthropology, Ellen Messer and Michael Lambeck, eds. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press) 2001:99-121.

"Anthropology and Environmental Justice: Analysts, Advocates, Activists and Troublemakers" in Anthropology and the Environment, Carole Crumley, ed. (Walnut Creek: Alta Mira) 2001:132-149.

"Environmental Anthropology" special issue of the journal Practicing Anthropology. Edited by Barbara Rose Johnston and John Young. Summer 2001. Author, "Backyard Anthropology and Community Struggles to Reclaim the Commons? Lessons from the SfAA Environmental Anthropology Project."

"Nuclear Compensation in the Marshall Islands" Holly Barker and Barbara Rose Johnston. Cultural Survival Quarterly (Summer 2000).

"Human Environmental Rights" in Human Rights: New Perspectives, New Realities, Second Edition, Adamantia Pollis and Peter Schwab, eds. (New York: Praeger Publishers). 2000:95-103.

"Censorship, Denial of Informed Participation, and Human Rights Abuses Associated with Dam Development in Chile" by Barbara Rose Johnston and Terrence Turner, Professional Ethics Report, Publication of the AAAS Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program, in collaboration with the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, Volume XI, Number 2, Spring 1998. http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/sfrl/per/per13.htm.

"Anthropology and Environmental Education," a special issue of the journal Practicing Anthropology. Edited by Barbara Johnston and Thomas Arcury. Author of endnote commentary "Towards an Environmental Anthropology." Volume 16:4, November 1995.

"Human Rights and the Environment," a special issue of the journal Human Ecology. Guest editor, author of overview article "Human Rights and the Environment." Volume 23:2, June 1995.

"The Commodification of Mountaineering: Lessons for Ecotourism" with Ted Edwards. Annals of Tourism Research Volume 21. December 1994.

"Resource Management in the Virgin Islands: Eco-imperialism and Environmental Alienation." Capitalism, Nature, Socialism: A Journal of Socialist Ecology 3(4):99-108. December 1992.

"Breaking Out of the Tourist Trap" Cultural Survival Quarterly 14:1, (Winter 1990) http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/csq/csq_article.cfm?id=0000023E-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&region_id=10&subregion_id=32&issue_id=4

"Save Our Beach Dem and Our Land Too! Social Response to the Problems of Tourism in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands" Cultural Survival Quarterly 14:2 (Spring 1990).


  • Ph.D. Degree (1987) University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts (Anthropology) Dissertation: "Political Ecology of Development: Changing Resource Relations and the Impacts of Tourism, St. Thomas, USVI."
  • M.A. Degree (1981) San Jose State University, San Jose, California (Interdisciplinary Studies, Cultural Ecology) Thesis: "A Problem of Water: A Cultural Ecological Study of St. Thomas, USVI."
  • B.A. Degree (1978) University of California, Berkeley, California (Anthropology) Thesis: "Native California Medicinal Ethnobotany."


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