Dr. Annette Watson is a geographer who works as an Associate Professor in the Political Science department at CofC with a specialty in Human Environmental Geography. She teaches courses on environmental geography, Indigenous/Native American studies, and political ecology. Her research has focused on subsistence economies of North America, natural resource management, and the effect of climate change on indigenous wildlife policy. Dr. Watson got a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic, an M.A. in Northern Studies from University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and a Ph.D. in Geography from University of Minnesota.
At the College of Charleston, Dr. Watson teaches Reading the Lowcountry Landscape (GEOG 219), where students learn about the coastal area of the South where CofC is located. In this class, students use a variety of geographical techniques to analyze places in the Lowcountry. Dr. Watson has also contributed to the field of Southern Studies by collaborating with several Gullah/Geechee communities to “understand their connection to the ecology of the Sea Islands” and the effect of gentrification on their economies. She even participates in the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank, which consists of community representatives and academics who research local Gullah communities. Through her collaborations, she has focused on the subsistence economies of these communities. In terms of her personal connection with the South, she says that she has “lived in Charleston since 2008, when [she] first was hired to teach at the College.” Along the way, she has developed many personal and professional relationships with the people who live in the region.
Dr. Watson told me that historical artifacts like “the shell midden rings left by Indigenous cultures from thousands of years ago” and “the sites of some of the earliest European settlement in the colonial era” are a major part of what makes the South such a unique place.” She noted that the varied histories that exist in the South provoke different responses across the cultures of the South and beyond. This is part of what she calls the continuous negotiation of Southern culture. The rich and diverse history of the region is what “produces the uniqueness of the South (and its sub-regions)”, according to Dr. Watson.
Currently, Dr. Watson is continuing her research on Gullah/Geechee communities in the Lowcountry. She also recently conducted research on wildlife management and salmon fisheries conflict. Finally, Dr. Watson expressed her hope that some students in this class take her Reading the Lowcountry Landscape class at some point!