Of Sociology

Dr. Cynthia “Cissy” Fowler is Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Wofford College where
she teaches courses in the subdisciplines of cultural, ecological, and medical anthropology, as well as courses on ethnography, ethnographic film, cultures of Southeast Asia and Oceania, global health, and diversity.  Fowler participates in Wofford College’s initiative to reform its general education curriculum, to improve tenure and promotion processes for faculty, and to prepare students for post-graduate scholarships.

Fowler is a deeply devoted ethnobiologist and anthropologist who expresses her dedication to these disciplines
through teaching undergraduates, performing service at her institution as well as in local and professional communities, editing academic publications, and research and writing. Fowler’s research interests are in the areas of space-time cultures and biosocial dynamics. Her current research lies at the intersections of fire ecology and science and technology studies.  She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Indonesia, Hawai‘i, Vietnam, and the U.S. South.  Fowler has published her research results in journal articles and books, including Fire Otherwise: Ethnobiology of Burning for a Changing World (forthcoming), Biosocial Synchrony on Sumba: Multispecies Interactions and Environmental Variations in Indonesia (2016), and Ignition Stories: Indigenous Fire Ecology in the Indo-Australian Monsoon Zone  (2013). Fowler is the co-editor along with Dr. Elizabeth Olson of the monograph series Global Change/Global Health published by the University of Arizona Press.

Fowler has been an active member of the Society of Ethnobiology since 1999, serving as the President of the Board. She was co-founder and co-editor of the open access journal Ethnobiology Letters. Fowler is a member of the Polk County Fire and Rescue Advisory Council, a position appointed by the Polk County, North Carolina Board of Commissioners.

Fowler teaches the following anthropology courses at Wofford College: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology and Communications, Diversity, Global Health, Ecological Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Ethnography, Ethnographic Film, and Cultures of Southeast Asian and Oceania.

The following courses are Fowler’s Interim courses: Water and Society, Fire Ecology of the Southern Appalachians, Earth to Exotic: Frolicking in the Foothills, Woodworkers Workshop, Nature and Culture on Bali, Holistic Health, Thailand: A Developing Country with Ethnic and Religious Diversity, and Land and Peoples of Peru: Amazon and Andes.

Fowler is the recipient of a 2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award. She will conduct research on Sumba Island in collaboration with the University of Nusa Cendana on Timor Island as part of a project that links global change with global health to better understand the ways in which ongoing change in freshwater on Sumba interacts with agropastoralists’ wellbeing.

Fowler had a fellowship to attend the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to attend the “Islam in Asia” Summer Institute in June and July 2017.  She is also a Community Engagement Faculty Fellow with Wofford College’s Center for Community Based Learning for the August 2017 – May 2018 school year.


Fowler, Cynthia and Kaycia Best. 2019. State Line Burn: Collaboration Across the Border of North and South Carolina. An Interview with Brian Browning, Fire Management Officer for the Nantahala Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest. Fire Learning Network Newsletter.

Fowler, Cynthia T. and James R. Welch, editors. 2018. Fire Otherwise: Ethnobiology of Burning for a Changing World. University of Utah Press.

Fowler, Cynthia T. and Scott Herron, guest editors. 2018. Ethics in Ethnobiology. Special Issue. Ethnobiology Letters 9.

Fowler, Cynthia. 2016.  Biosocial Synchrony on Sumba: Multispecies Relationships and Environmental Variations in Indonesia. Lexington Books.

2015. Wayfinding Women: The Generation of Landscapes and Society through Female Entrepreneurship. Urbanities 5(1):83-94.

Fowler, Cynthia T. and James R. Welch. 2015. Introduction: Special Issue on Fire Ecology and Ethnobiology. Journal of Ethnobiology  35(1):1-3.

2014. An Editor’s Opinion on the Ethics of Open Access. Ethnobiology Letters 5:1-3.

2013. Ignition Stories: Indigenous Fire Ecologies in the Indo-Australian Monsoon Zone. Carolina Academic Press, Durham.

2013.  Book Review of Fire: Nature and Culture by Stephen J. Pyne. Progress in Physical Geography 37(5):722-724.

Fowler, Cynthia and Amy Pittsenbarger. 2011. Interview with Ethnobiologist Dr. Elizabeth Widjaja. Letter from the Editors. Ethnobiology Letters 2:81-84.

2011. Performing Pisgah: Endurance Mountain Bikers Generating the National Forest. Anthropology News 52(3):11.

2009. National Teach-In on Global Warming. Anthropology and Environment Column. Anthropology News May 2009:42-43.

McMillen, Heather, Lisa Gollin, Cynthia Fowler, JD Baker, Dan Moerman, Elaine Elizabetsky, and Michael Heinrich. Tribute to the Late Nina Etkin. HerbalEGram 6(6).

2008. National Public Health Initiatives that Integrate Traditional Medicine. In Human Health and Forests: A Global Overview of Issues, Practice and Policy. Carol J. Pierce Colfer, editor. Pp. 295-315. London: Earthscan.

2007. With Evelyn Konopik.  The History of Fire in the Southern United States. Human Ecology Review 14(2):165-176.

2007. Book Review of Religion and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction by Brian Morris. American Anthropologist 109(1): 221-222.

2004. Edited with Deborah Kennard. The Encyclopedia of Southern Fire Science.  Available at

2005. Why is Maize a Sacred Plant? Social History and Agrarian Change on Sumba.  Journal of Ethnobiology 25(1):39-57.

2003. The Ecological Implications of Ancestral Religion and Reciprocal Exchange in a Sacred Forest in Karendi.  World Views: Culture, Environment, Religion 7(3):303-329. 

2003. Human Health Impacts of Forest Fires in the South: A Literature Review. Journal of Ecological Anthropology 7:39-63.

2002.  Book Review of People, Plants, and Justice: The Politics of Nature Conservation. Journal of Ethnobiology.

Wilcox, Bruce and Cynthia Fowler. 2001. Ecosystem Health and the Political Process: Ullsten and Rapport Revisited.  Journal of Ecosystem Health 7(3).