Photo of Jennifer Lee Johnson

Jennifer Lee Johnson

Assistant Professor

Dr. Jennifer Lee Johnson joins Purdue as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and is part of Purdue’s Building Sustainable Communities initiative. Dr. Johnson's research is historically rooted, ethnographically engaged, and focused at the confluence of gender, vernacular practices, and the politics of contemporary economic and environmental sustainability along African and North American littorals, or shorelines. By foregrounding African women’s work with diverse species and forms of fish – both indigenous and introduced – alongside the development of global markets for African fish products, Dr. Johnson’s current research retheorizes the intersection of gender, history, legality, and sustainability in and around Africa’s largest body of freshwater.

Dr. Johnson’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropology, the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, and the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University. Since 2004, she has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on sustainability issues with resource-interdependent communities in eastern Africa, focusing most closely on Ugandan fisheries since 2008. Her peer-reviewed journal articles have been published in Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management and the African Journal of Hydrobiology and Fisheries, and she has published several chapters in edited volumes including Bringing Subsistence out of the Shadows: Essays on Markets and Self Provisioning (McGill-Queen’s University Press forthcoming in 2015), Great Lakes Fishery Policy and Management (Michigan State University Press 2012), and Landscapes and Environments in Colonial and Post Colonial Africa (Routledge Press 2011). She has also regularly shared her research in public fora, including TEDxUofM, the Ugandan print and TV news, and on It's Hot in Here, an environmentally-themed public affairs talk and music show still airing on WCBN-FM-Ann Arbor that she on co-founded, co-hosted, and co-produced throughout her graduate studies.

Building on case based pilot research conducted in 2011 and 2012 on U.S. fisheries, Dr. Johnson plans to develop an interdisciplinary research program at Purdue across the continents of Africa and North America to analyze historical roots and future possibilities for sustainable economies across national borders in lacustrine environments. She seeks to both refine and broaden her methods for analyzing environmentally sustainable economic and social practices that can be overshadowed in Africa’s transborder Great Lakes region, as in the U.S.-Canadian Rust Belt, by manufacturing, shipping, mining, and commercial and recreational fishing industries.

Prior to joining the faculty at Purdue, Dr. Johnson held appointments as a Postdoctoral Associate with the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University, a Graduate Fellow in Residence at the Institute for Humanities at the University of Michigan, and a Dean’s Fellow at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. She earned her M.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning and Ph.D. in Resource Policy and Behavior from the University of Michigan, and a BA in International Political Economy from the Colorado College. She has also worked professionally on fisheries sustainability issues for the Marine Fish Conservation Network, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, and the Blue Ocean Institute.

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