J. Stephen Lansing - CSH

J. Stephen Lansing

Santa Fe Institute & CSH External Faculty

J. Stephen Lansing is an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona, and a senior research fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Before moving to Arizona in 1998, he held joint appointments at the University of Michigan in the School of Natural Resources & Environment and the Department of Anthropology, and earlier chaired the anthropology department of the University of Southern California. He has been a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University, the Santa Fe Institute, the Stockholm Resilience Center and the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta. He is President-elect of the Anthropology and Environment Society of the American Anthropological Association.


Steve is interested in self-organizing processes. In the 1980’s, he showed that Balinese water temple networks can self-organize and that water temple networks expanded to manage the ecology of rice terraces at the scale of whole watersheds. In 2000 he began to work with Indonesian geneticists, linguists and public health officials to study the co-evolution of social structure, language change and disease resistance on fourteen Indonesian islands. The story of this project is told in Islands of Order: A Guide to Complexity Modeling for the Social Sciences (www.islandsoforder.com; 2019).


Steve’s current research focuses on the discovery of a Song language spoken by a community of cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers in Borneo, and on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from rice agriculture in Indonesia.