Cindy Isenhour

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

At the micro-level my work focuses on environmental risk perception and response in urban contexts.  The realities of urban living are such that most urbanites - particularly in relatively wealthy cities - are far removed from the most harmful effects of their lifestyles.  These conditions raise a number of interesting questions about knowledge construction, risk perception and response when citizens have very little control over productive resources or decisions about their use.  In many cases individuals respond on the market, in their roles as consumers.  But how effective is this strategy? And is it a transformative movement of individuals with shared values or a reflection of neoliberal environmental policies that place increased responsibility on individuals and pin hopes for environmental solutions on individual choice and consumer demand? 

At the mezzo-level this research examines how the actions that urbanites take to live more sustainably and reduce the climate impact of their lifestyles articulates with sustainability policy and urban planning initiatives.  I specifically look for disjunctures and unintended consequences including policies that focus on energy efficiency yet exclude other definitions of sustainability or urban resiliency. 

Finally, at the macro level my work examines the environmental and climate impact of urban consumption behavior - drawing on analyses of the emissions embodied in goods and services, particularly those produced in distant developing contexts but consumed in affluent urban contexts.  My research thus directly addresses issues of climate justice and the reality that there are significant emissions embodied in global trade.