The Intersections of Culture, Conflict and the Environment

Traycylee Clark

By Tracylee Clarke, Assistant Professor of Communication

My research interests, informed by both my academic and professional careers, focus on the constitutive nature of communication. I examine the role of dialogue and narrative in the creation of socially constructed realities.  Guided by this overarching theme and my interest in interdisciplinary research, my interests fall into three main areas; 1) environment; 2) culture; and 3) conflict. The current research projects I am engaged in incorporate one or more of these areas of interest and focus on the links or intersections between them.

I am specifically interested in the construction and resolution of environmental conflict, specifically with indigenous communities.  Building on my dissertation work with the Goshute Indians regarding intertribal conflict about the storing nuclear waste on their reservation, I have published a book titled, “Native Americans and Nuclear Waste: Narratives of Conflict.”  I have also published two related articles focusing on the role of voice in nuclear waste policy development and the interplay between the symbolic and the material.

Expanding my scholarly work focused on Native America cultural symbolism and environmental management, I co-authored an article titled “The Weyekin Principle: Toward an Embodied Critical Rhetoric.” I am particularly proud of this article as it received a national award from the International Environmental Communication Association for providing theoretical contributions to the field of environmental communication and the relationship between humans and their environment.

Continuing my research on environmental policy development and conflict management, my current research focuses on water resource management issues and the role of public discourse in collaborative decision-making processes. I feel lucky that I have been able to bridge my professional career as an environmental mediator with my research interests and hope to continue to do so. 

For me the most rewarding part of research is engaging with other disciplines to address complex environmental issues. I am presently working with Don Rodriguez, Environmental Science & Resource Management (ESRM) and Jose Alamillo, Chicana/o Studies to understand how to better engage the Latino community with National Park Service programs.  Under a grant from the Park Service we were able fund six undergrad students, two from each of our disciplines, to help us with data gathering and analysis. Working closely with colleagues and students on this research confirms why I love academic life: the ability to continually learn from others as we bridge disciplinary knowledge and create new spaces of understanding.

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