Shepard Krech III Professor Emeritus of Anthropology

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

See Curriculum Vita

research overview

Shepard Krech III conducts research on the intersections of humans and the natural world; anthropology and history, and material culture and the development of museums. Current projects are on time in indigenous cultures, bird-human interactions, and environmental knowledge. All research and writing is informed by ethnography in and a general geographical focus on native North America.

research statement

Born in New York City, educated at Yale (B.A.), Oxford (B.Litt.) and Harvard (Ph.D.), Shepard Krech III is professor of anthropology and environmental studies, and director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, at Brown University. He has received major fellowships and grants from the National Humanities Center (twice), Woodrow Wilson International Center, NEH, Canadian Embassy, and Wenner-Gren Foundation. He has written over 150 essays and reviews, lectured widely, and is the author or editor of 11 books and monographs, including Praise the Bridge That Carries You Over; Indians, Animals and the Fur Trade; A Victorian Earl in the Arctic; The Subarctic Fur Trade; Collecting Native America, 1870-1960; The Ecological Indian (1999); Encyclopedia of World Environmental History (ed. with J. R. McNeill and C. Merchant, 2004), Spirits of the Air (2009); and Indigenous Environments (MS ed. with David Gordon).

The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (W. W. Norton, 1999) was discussed on radio coast-to-coast and reviewed or featured in over 100 publications in more than one dozen languages, including The New Yorker, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The New Republic, New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement [TLS], Chronicle of Higher Education, Times Higher Education Supplement, Der Spiegel, NRC Handelsblad, and others. Reviewers remark that the book "teaches us everything we have wanted to know about American Indians and the environment" (New York Times), is "ground-breaking and myth-busting" (Wisconsin Public Radio), and "is what good science should be" (Detroit News). The book was the subject of a session at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association, a conference in Laramie, Wyoming, and the edited collection, Native Americans and the Environment (eds. M. Harkin and D. R. Lewis [U. Nebraska Press]).

Critics refer to the three-volume Encyclopedia of World Environmental History (Routledge, 2004) as edited with "great insight and skill" (James G. Speth) and "the most ambitious effort yet to offer a comprehensive overview of the long-term history of human interactions with the natural world on a truly planetary scale" (William Cronon).

Early comments from anthropology and environmental history on Spirits of the Air (University of Georgia Press, 2009) include "superbly researched and splendidly illustrated" (Raymond Fogelson), "insightful" (Carolyn Merchant), and "exhaustive" (Charles Hudson); and from ornithology and the professional birding world a "landmark work" (Kenn Kaufman) and "thought-provoking." (Donald and Lillian Stokes).

Shepard Krech III is past-president (2004-05) of the American Society for Ethnohistory and a trustee of the National Humanities Center. A lifelong birder and environmentalist, he lives in Washington, D.C. and Sedgwick, Maine.

funded research

1971-72 Wenner-Gren Foundation

1971-72 National Institute for Mental Health

1971-72 Canadian Research Centre for Anthropology

1975,78,81 American Philosophical Society, Phillips Fund

1976-87 George Mason University: Fdn (1976), Res Grant Prog (1979, 80), Ctr Adv Stud (1980, 81, 82), Interntl Progs (1983, 84, 85, 86), Summer Stip (1984, 87), Sem Study Lv (1986)

1978, 81 Wye Institute, Inc.

1981-82 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship

1984-85 Canadian Embassy: Faculty Enrichment Grant (1984), Faculty/Inst Res Grant Prog (1985)

1986 Grotto Foundation

1986 National Endowment for the Humanities, Travel to Collections

1989- For Haffenreffer Museum (selected): Canadian Embassy (1989), RI Committee on the Humanities (1989, 1991), RI State Council on the Arts (1989); Institute of Museum [and Library] Services-GOS (1991, 1995-97, 1997-99); National Park Service (1995, 1997); NEH--Preservation and Access [$700,000] (1998; returned 2000)

1992- Brown University: Wriston Grant (1992), Solomon Grant (1999), Curr. Dev. (2001)

1992-93 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowship

1993-94 National Humanities Center Fellowship

2000-01 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow in the Ecological Humanities, National Humanities Center

2004 Pembroke Center Faculty Research Fellowship, Brown University