Visiting Scholar Paige West

By Hadley White

Paige West is one of fifteen prominent scholars in the liberal arts and sciences selected to serve as a ΦBK Visiting Scholar during the 2017-2018 academic year. 

West is Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her work focuses on the links between environmental conservation and international development, the creation of commodities and practices of consumption, the dispossession of indigenous peoples, and the social effects of climate change. Since the mid-1990s she has conducted fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, where she founded a non-governmental organization dedicated to empowering Papua New Guinean scientists. 

Author or editor of eight books and the founding editor of the journal Environment and Society, West is a fellow of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania and is past president of the Anthropology and Environment Section of the American Anthropological Association.

While on tour for ΦBK, West will spend two days on each campus she visits, meet informally with students and faculty, participate in discussions and seminars, and give a lecture that is open to the academic community and the general public.

West’s lecture topics include: Dispossession, Racism, and the Environment, which considers how inequalities are produced, lived, and reinforced in today’s globalized world; Migration and Displacement in the Contemporary Pacific, which examines the Regional Resettlement Arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea and the vestiges of colonial power in the Pacific; and Narrating the Assemblage of the Now, which explores how we can think and talk about dispossession and the socio-ecological conditions of planetary decline in ways that allow us to avoid fixating on the past and help us to imagine new futures. 

To learn more about the Visiting Scholar Program, visit or write to Hadley White, Director of the Visiting Scholars Program,