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Sarah Jewitt

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Expertise Summary

I have longstanding experience of undertaking participatory and ethnographic work in India on community based forest management, the collection and marketing of non-timber forest produce, indigenous environmental knowledge, gender-environment relations and agrarian change. More recent work in India has focused on geographies of sanitation and decentralised rural energy systems with particular emphasis on the linkages between agricultural waste, energy production and improved sanitation. Outside India, I have worked on rainwater harvesting in Tanzania, the restoration of tropical peatlands in SE Asia, barriers to the introduction of improved cook stoves in southern Africa and menstrual hygiene management in Kisumu Kenya. My research pays particular attention to political ecology of natural resource management, intra- and inter-community variations in environmental knowledge possession and management capacity and the socio-cultural importance of indigenous environmental knowledge and practices.

Research Summary

My research interests lie mainly at the interface between environment and development although gender issues have are also an important element of my work. Building on past research on the… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

My research interests lie mainly at the interface between environment and development although gender issues have are also an important element of my work. Building on past research on the interactions between agriculture/household energy/livestock-rearing and sanitation issues in rural India, I am currently involved in an EPSRC project investigating rural decentralised hybrid energy enterprise systems in India and the UK (RHEES) as well as as a EPSRC/DfID/DECC project investigating barriers to the adoption of improved cook stoves in southern Africa. I am also interested in wider gender and sanitation-related issues including water and sanitation-related gender-based violence and the impacts of menstruation and puberty on girls' spatial mobility and life chances.

Past Research

I have been undertaking research in India since 1989 and have worked extensively on environment-development issues in India. My doctoral research was conducted in Jharkhand on community-based forest management and gendered environmental knowledge and was followed by a DfID funded project on the production and management of non-timber forest products in Jharkhand and Odisha. Particular emphasis has been placed on the displacement of indigenous agro-ecological knowledge, the gendered political ecology of natural resource management, intra- and inter-community variations in environmental knowledge possession and management capacity and the socio-cultural importance of forests and its influence on community-based resource management.

From 2001-6, I undertook collaborative research with Dr Kathy Baker in Uttar Pradesh on agrarian change in the post Green Revolution period which in turn, fed into research on alternative household energy systems and the socio-economic and gendered geographies of dung with a particular emphasis on how the redistribution of dung (including human excreta) within the agriculture/household energy/livestock-rearing nexus can help to address declining yields and water pollution from chemical fertilizers as well as health and socioeconomic issues relating to indoor air pollution, poor sanitation and inadequate household energy supplies.

Outside India, I have worked on rainwater harvesting in Tanzania and the restoration of tropical peatland in SE Asia to promote sustainable natural resource use and reduce carbon emissions.

Future Research

In addition to continuing research technology transitions (decentralised rural energy, sanitation, improved cook stoves), I have plans to further develop my research on gendered sanitation priorities and menstrual hygeine management. I will also continue to look for opportunities to continue research on tropical peat swamp forest-dependent communities in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

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