Thomas Pearson began teaching at UW-Stout in 2009 and has served as the assistant director of the Honors College since 2016. He is a cultural anthropologist and has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on environmental conflicts in both Central America and the United States on a range of issues, including GMOs, sand mining, and toxic exposure. For several years his research documented grassroots organizing in response to frac sand mining in Wisconsin and he is the author of When the Hills Are Gone: Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community (2017). With support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2020-21), his current research explores how communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan grapple with the discovery of PFAS contamination. In addition, Dr. Pearson is working on a book project that interweaves anthropology, disability studies, and his experiences as a father to explore how humans conceive of difference.
Cultural Anthropology, Applied Anthropology, Environmental Justice, Social Movements, Global Political Ecology, Qualitative Methods
Dr. Pearson’s research addresses grassroots activism and collective action; conflicts over place, politics, and the environment; environmental justice, industrial pollution, and contamination; and disability studies. Selected publications include:
- “A Daughter’s Disability and a Father’s Awakening,” SAPIENS, January 10, 2019 https://www.sapiens.org/culture/down-syndrome-baby/
- When the Hills Are Gone: Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
- “Frac Sand Mining and the Disruption of Place, Landscape, and Community in Wisconsin,” Human Organization 75, no. 1 (2016): 47-58.
- “Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin: Understanding Emerging Conflicts and Community Organizing,” Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) 35, no. 1 (2013): 30-40.
- “‘Life is Not for Sale!’: Confronting Free Trade and Intellectual Property in Costa Rica,” American Anthropologist 115, no. 1 (2013): 58-71.
- “Transgenic-Free Territories in Costa Rica: Networks, Place, and the Politics of Life,” American Ethnologist 39, no. 1 (2012): 90-105.
- “On the Trail of Living Modified Organisms: Environmentalism within and against Neoliberal Order,” Cultural Anthropology 24, no. 4 (2009): 712-745.