Portraits_Andy McCumber_16.jpg


  • Environmental Sociology

  • Environmental Justice

  • Cultural Sociology

  • Human-Animal Interactions

  • Ideas of Nature


I am a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  My research lies at the intersection of environmental and cultural sociology and centers on ideas of nature, meaning making, and human-animal relationships. My dissertation project is a multi-sited examination of various programs of rat extermination, eradication, and control, titled “The Pest We All Live With: The Cultural Meanings of the Life and Death of Rats.” In this project I combine diverse forms of data, including ethnographic participant observation, interviews, archival historical materials, and survey data. By looking at these violent geographies of rat control, I examine how relationships with some of our least-loved nonhuman companions reverberate through the broader fabric of social life.

My approach to this work is interdisciplinary, contributing to conversations around society, culture, and environment that include scholarship from history, geography, english, and anthropology, among other fields of study. As part of my doctoral studies, I am in an interdisciplinary emphasis program in Environment and Society, housed by UCSB’s Environmental Studies department. My participation in this program has involved taking additional coursework and receiving mentorship on my dissertation project from outside my discipline.

Other work of mine has examined various topics relating to the cultural aesthetics of “nature,” including my Masters Thesis, which investigated the effect of California’s recent severe drought on local aesthetic imaginations of nature. An article based on interview research from this project was published in Nature + Culture. Other work of mine, ranging from social and cultural theory to qualitative and mixed methods content analysis has been published in Environmental Sociology and Sociology Compass.