Research Interests: Rural land use and biodiversity conservation; animal geographies; sacred landscapes; historical geography/environmental history, property, possession, and personhood; Sino-Tibetan Borderlands; Southern China-subtropical cultural ecologies
Teaching Interests: Political ecology; philosophies and religions of East Asia; geography of nature conservation; critical spatial theory; property, possession, and personhood
Other Interests: Backcountry skiing, freestyle cross-country ("skate") skiing, trekking, swimming, ultimate frisbee, soccer, kayaking, running, mountain biking, wildlife observation
PhD & MS, Louisiana State University
BA, Wesleyan University
Dr. Coggins's research focuses on rural China, political ecology, biodiversity, sacred landscapes, protected area management, globalization, and property/possession. He has led students and faculty on eight trips to China since 1999, six of which have involved intensive field research. He is the co-editor (with Emily Yeh) of Mapping Shangrila: Contested Landscapes of the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands (University of Washington, 2014), and the author of The Tiger and the Pangolin: Nature, Culture, and Conservation in China (University of Hawaii Press, 2003) (runner-up for the 2003 Julian Steward Award for best book in environmental/ecological anthropology and nominated for the Kiriyama Prize in nonfiction). He is also the co-author of The Primates of China: Biogeography and Conservation Status – Past, Present, and Future (China Forestry Publishing House, 2002). He has published refereed articles in many geography, environment, and Asia-related books and periodicals. Since 2011, he has led teams engaged in a multi-year, mixed methods, field and archival research project on the fengshui forests of southern and central China. His work on the history of humans and tigers in China has been featured on BBC 4's Natural Histories. Dr. Coggins has been teaching at Simon's Rock since 1998.
2011-2016: With funding from ASIANetwork, The American Philosophical Society, and the Luce Foundation LIASE (Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment), Dr. Coggins has led teams of faculty and students from Simon's Rock, Bard, Bard affiliates, and other colleges and universities in the US, China, and Japan in a multi-year field research project on the sociocultural and ecological characteristics, past and present, of southern China's village fengshui forests. This is the first systematic multi-province research on these community-protected sacred groves, which are found in 10-14 provinces in central and southern China. Their publications are among the first English language works on this subject. The study aims to explain how and why the groves have been systematically protected for centuries; to map their present regional distribution and analyze their ecological effects, particularly in terms of biodiversity and local water quality; and to learn what local people, government, and other conservation stakeholders are doing to protect this remarkable legacy. LIASE funding also supports an annual student research conference on Asia and the environment, held each April at Bard College, and has provided a forum for students from Simon's Rock, Bard, and other institutions to share their research results in a supportive environment.