Jennifer Lee Johnson’s research is historically rooted, ethnographically engaged, and focused at the confluence of gender, illegality, and the ontological politics of sustainability. Johnson’s current book project, based on long-term research in and around Africa’s largest body of freshwater, examines how stories about the past shape and are shaped by contemporary environmental policy debates, and how alternative—but no less accurate—accounts of linked transformations in social and ecological life may inspire more livable futures. By focusing on the ontologically distinct worlds that fish and fisheries inhabit and inspire—as material things, practices, and concepts that straddle the artificial divide between nature and culture—Johnson’s research examines possible coexistence of multiple realities that are brought into existence and sometimes into extinction across time and place.
Johnson is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2014 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University from 2014 to 2015. Her previous research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the University of Michigan, and Purdue and Yale Universities.