- Ph.D. Sociocultural Anthropology, University of California, Davis 2015
- M.A. Sociocultural Anthropology, University of California, Davis 2007
- B.A. Anthropology, Colby College 2002
Jake Culbertson studies the tensions between indigenous landscapes and the modern notions of environment that underwrite liberal multiculturalism, focusing on environmental design in New Zealand. His teaching and scholarship draw on extensive field research among architects, environmental planners and indigenous artists, both contemporary and “traditional.” He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Recombinant Indigeneities: Maori Environmental Design and the Architecture of Biculturalism. The book traces controversies around Maori landscapes in environmental planning, architecture, and urban public space. New Zealand is on the verge of its “post-settlement era”: the sitting national government is racing to settle all outstanding treaty claims to land and cultural property by 2017, promising to refashion the relationship between Maori and the Crown from one of historical grievances to one of equitable collaboration and consultation. Yet Maori relationships to landscapes are not stable historical artefacts; they frequently emerge in environmental design projects in new innovative forms, resistant to settlement. The book demonstrates how design controversies yield complex claims to the landscape that stifle liberal modes of inclusion, as Maori landscapes push open the ostensibly-universal foundations of both environmental design and liberal multiculturalism.
He teaches courses on political ecology, design anthropology, Oceania, and art and material culture.