At present, Lea Stepan works as a research associate in the research group 'The Transcultural Heritage of Northwest Australia: Dynamics and Resistances’ (since November 2017). The junior research group is part of the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) at Heidelberg University.
Lea Stepan’s research interest fits into contributions of political ecology within anthropology to examine interactions, transformations and intermingling of different knowledges in global encounters. This gains relevance against the broader picture of present-day global environmental problems and the necessity to address and consider different conceptualisations of ecology.
As a member of the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ she worked as doctoral researcher within the interdisciplinary group ‘Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspectives’. Starting in 2013, Stepan has been investigating recently perceived problems of water scarcity and pollution as the results of the growing tourist industry and agribusiness developments in Bali. Taking into consideration that water is venerated as a ‘holy element,’ water becomes a source for tensions, multi-layered meaning-making and complex interconnections of human-environment relations with regard to cosmology, ecology and economy. The research was part of the sub-project ‘Water as a Contested Element Between Cosmological, Environmental and Economic Ascriptions and Knowledges in Bali’. She has a background in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies at University of Heidelberg where she completed her studies in 2012.
Together with Dr. Ravi Baghel and Dr. J. Hill, she co-edited and contributed to the volume Water, Knowledge and the Environment in Asia. The book resulted from a workshop on ‘Epistemologies of Water in Asia’ and brings together contributions dedicated to questions of how varied forms of water knowledge encounter and intermingle with each other. The combined case studies address particularly the role and dynamics of water knowledge in everyday practices.
Stepan, L. (2017) Balinese wet rice agriculture in transition: water knowledge between a sentient ecology and the pursuit of development. In R. Baghel; L. Stepan and J. Hill (eds.) Water, Knowledge and the Environment in Asia. Epistemologies, practices and locales. London, New York: Routledge.
Baghel, R. & Stepan, L. (2017) Contextualising the Anthropocene: The cultures, practices and politics of water knowledge in Asia. In R. Baghel; L. Stepan and J. Hill (eds.) Water, Knowledge and the Environment in Asia. Epistemologies, practices and locales. London, New York: Routledge.
Baghel, R; Stepan, L. and Hill, J. (eds.) (2017) Water, Knowledge and the Environment in Asia. Epistemologies, practices and locales. London, New York: Routledge.