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An Ethnography of Global Connection

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Abstract

A wheel turns because of its encounter with the surface of the road; spinning in the air it goes nowhere. Rubbing two sticks together produces heat and light; one stick alone is just a stick. In both cases, it is friction that produces movement, action, effect. Challenging the widespread view that globalization invariably signifies a "clash" of cultures, anthropologist Anna Tsing here develops friction in its place as a metaphor for the diverse and conflicting social interactions that make up our contemporary world. She focuses on one particular "zone of awkward engagement"--the rainforests of Indonesia--where in the 1980s and the 1990s capitalist interests increasingly reshaped the landscape not so much through corporate design as through awkward chains of legal and illegal entrepreneurs that wrested the land from previous claimants, creating resources for distant markets. In response, environmental movements arose to defend the rainforests and the communities of people who live in them. Not confined to a village, a province, or a nation, the social drama of the Indonesian rainforest includes local and national environmentalists, international science, North American investors, advocates for Brazilian rubber tappers, UN funding agencies, mountaineers, village elders, and urban students, among others--all combining in unpredictable, messy misunderstandings, but misunderstandings that sometimes work out.

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... Empson and Webb write that 'This argument promotes the idea, not so much of "resource nationalism", but more of an image of an "innocent newcomer" that is learning the practice of contemporary international political economy: the importance of private contractual agreements and the detached yet supportive role of the State in underpinning that environment; the raising of private finance and financial governance requirements; and macroeconomic planning generally' (Empson and Webb 2014, 241). The learning experience of this 'innocent newcomer' from the contemporary international political economy and nationalistic responses to different consequences of the global economy has been a process of the indigenous shaping neoliberalism, not just how neoliberalism shapes the local (see also Tsing 2005) as many previous works depict. ...
... There are many works in the field of mining, resource, environment, activism, governance, state and capitalism that present conflicts between mining, protest movements and the state from different parts of the world, 5 such as Indonesia (Tsing 2005 (Li 2015 14 ) and Bolivia (Andreucci and Radhuber 2017 15 ). Much of this literature has three striking similarities. ...
... 5 Richard Howitt, John Connell and Philip Hirsch (1996) discuss the binary or triad relationship between a corporation, community and state in the case of Australasia, Melanesia and Southeast Asia. 6 Anna Tsing (2005) writes about the collaboration of Japanese tree trading companies and Indonesian politicians that resulted in forest destruction and the resistance of local indigenous Kalimantans, and discloses congeries and friction of the local and global. 7 Marina Welker (2014) seeks an answer to important questions: What is a corporation? ...
Book
Mongolia’s mining sector, along with its environmental and social costs, have been the subject of prolonged and heated debate. This debate has often cast the country as either a victim of the ‘resource curse’ or guilty of ‘resource nationalism’. In The State, Popular Mobilisation and Gold Mining in Mongolia, Dulam Bumochir aims to avoid the pitfalls of this debate by adopting an alternative theoretical approach. He focuses on the indigenous representations of nature, environment, economy, state and sovereignty that have triggered nationalist and statist responses to the mining boom. In doing so, he explores the ways in which these responses have shaped the apparently ‘neo-liberal’ policies of twenty-first century Mongolia, and the economy that has emerged from them, in the face of competing mining companies, protest movements, international donor organizations, economic downturn, and local and central government policies. Applying rich ethnography to a nuanced and complex picture, Bumochir’s analysis is essential reading for students and researchers studying the environment and mining, especially in Central and North East Asia and post-Soviet regions, and also for readers interested in the relationship between neoliberalism, nationalism, environmentalism and state.
... When seen in this light, the resurgence of customary laws and traditions in Timor-Leste is not about 'going back' to embrace a past era of feudalism (whatever that might be interpreted to mean), but is about recognizing the ongoing adaptation and dynamism which informs the customary law-making processes at work in people's everyday lives. In such a context change is the only constant variable, with local communities embracing the diversity of circumstances which they encounter and the opportunities to which they are exposed, including more recently an increased familiarity with global discourses such as gender and resource equality, human rights and environmental protection (Molnar 2006;Ospina and Hohe 2002;Tsing 2005). In such processes the possibility of elite capture, corruption and abuse of the customary sector remain, as ever, present and possible, but not inevitable or fixed (see for example Hohe 2002). ...
... The Timorese government's own motivation to address issues of deforestation and natural resources management (see below) means that local appeals to environmental management carry immediate political currency. This concurs with the work of Tsing (2005) who has argued that there is a powerful inter-scalar collaborative potential embedded in concepts such as nature and biodiversity protection. ...
... It has already made plans to institute a network of national parks across the country and issues such as deforestation, land degradation and environmental protection have a relatively high profile within the national policy context (McWilliam 2003). In Timor-Leste, as in other parts of the world, local community leaders have recognized the use-value of such 'engaged universals' as the concept of nature (Tsing 2005) and are now actively seeking to engage with others in conversations about 'nature' and its protection whilst, as this paper demonstrates, simultaneously aiming to embed such concepts firmly within a framework of local jurisdiction and authority. ...
Chapter
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Across the nation of Timor-Leste there has been a resurgence of traditional laws and customs relating to resource use. People are revelling in their freedom to reinstigate many practices which were repressed during two and a half decades of violent Indonesian rule (do Amaral de Carvalho and Haburas Foundation, in preparation; D’Andrea et al. 2003; Yoder 2005; McWilliam 2003). One of these customary processes is commonly known in the Tetum language as tara bandu – putting an area under ritual prohibition. While this practice was not officially banned during the Indonesian occupation, it was effectively suppressed due to the consequences, potentially fatal, of congregating in large numbers to conduct ceremonies. Since independence, however, tara bandu and other such practices have reappeared in many communities across the country. With the support of elements of Timorese civil society, many communities have also begun to make use of the ‘power of spectacle’ to support such activities, with events captured on film and radio by a burgeoning media interest in Timorese cultural traditions (see Palmer and do Amaral de Carvalho 2006).
... In considering the multiple relationships between material and ideological landscapes, my work intersects with the current scholarship within anthropology called by turns multispecies ethnography, new materialism, or the "ontological turn" in anthropology (Ogden et al., 2013;Bessire & Bond, 2014). Broadly speaking, this work is characterized by taking seriously the tangible effects that nonhuman entities can play in shaping the course of human history and ideas, whether such entities be glaciers (Cruikshank, 2010), animals (Nadasdy, 2007) or mushrooms (Tsing, 2012). Of course, economic botanists and environmental anthropologists have long paid serious attention to the nonhuman, material dimensions of human stories: consider, for example, Evans-Pritchard's seminal work on the "cattle idioms" of the Nuer of the Sudan (1940) or Rappaport's examination of the role of pigs in organizing ritual practices in New Guinea (1968). ...
... Overall, despite a history of economic and political threats and temptations, Imorona households have largely maintained their land titles, their systems of customary governance, and a strong sense of local community. Such successful navigation between the local and the extra-local is not an easy task, and requires a diversity of political, economic, and cultural strategies (Tsing, 2005). For example, one key land use strategy that both empowers and protects smallholder farmers connected with global commodity markets is the practice of dual agricultural production, which integrates the cultivation of subsistence and market crops. ...
... This power is expressed both across material realms-who has access to which land and resources-and also ideological realms-who is empowered to frame the ways the environment is defined and categorized (Brosius, 1999;Li, 2000). In this sense, there are no neutral landscapes, as each land transaction and each type of meaning connected to environments will tend to advantage certain groups and disadvantage others (Tsing, 2005). ...
Book
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"In this remarkable blend of ethnography, landscape history, and economic botany, Sarah Osterhoudt invites readers to understand the 'happy landscapes' of carefully cultivated vanilla-producing agroforests in northeast Madagascar. Drawing on the author's five years in the coastal village of Imorona over a twelve-year period, this is also a unique and extended study in landscape epistemology and narration.It explores how local residents of various social positions, external conservation/development agents, a resident anthropologist, and biophysical scientists each come to know and to describe the culturally imbued land and forests of Madagascar." From book review in Journal of Political Ecology, by Laura M. Yoder
... At the same time, a leap forward in technologies for logistical connectivity, intermodal transport, and inter-firm coordination, has triggered a lively debate on supply chains and the logistics revolution, understood as both a motive force and intrinsic feature of the global capitalist economy (see Chua et al. 2018;Coe and Yeung 2015;Cowen 2014;Tsing 2009). The logistics revolution, according to Danyluk (2018), has ushered in a new phase of time-space compression that has increased the speed, cost-efficiency, flexibility, and reliability of global commodity flows. ...
... Absent from these readings of rentier capitalism is the fact that the encroaching concentration of economic and monopoly power-enabled by the extended circulation of new and ever more variegated regimes of property-has advanced alongside a process of material integration and market expansion whose extent is entirely without precedent in history (see for example Cowen 2014;Tsing 2009). When looked at from the standpoint of the circulation of capital, however, these two processes no longer seem to be antithetical or mutually excluding. ...
... In foregrounding how the circulation of property systems-via the rent mechanism-accelerates the turnover time of capital and boosts processes of marketmaking and of labour degradation, the analytic of circuits of capital offers new tools for critical studies of logistics and Global Value Chains (GVCs) / Global Production Networks (GPNs) (see Chua et al. 2018;Coe and Yeung 2015;Cowen 2014;Tsing 2009). Broadly put, these intellectual traditions have placed the emergence of logistics-as both a science and an industry of circulation-at the heart of a global mutation of profit-making strategies towards the imperatives of speed, homeostasis, and flow. ...
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en Although recent years have seen an efflorescence of research on rent, the emphasis has tended to be placed in the antagonistic relations of distribution that underlie this category. The ways in which rent relations also mediate the expansion of global networks of production and trade, however, are yet to be deciphered. On the other hand, an emerging scholarly interest in questions of logistics and supply chain capitalism has lacked a systematic theorisation of how increasing functional integration in the world economy shapes—and is also shaped by—rent relations. To bridge this gap, this article explores the complex, convoluted relation between property and the social circulation of capital in and beyond land markets. With this, we place into focus the extent to which the logistics revolution has elevated the importance of property relations—and thereby of the rentier class—in the dynamics of accumulation and political conflict under late-stage capitalism. Resumen es El rentismo ha pasado a ser uno de los tópicos más ampliamente investigados en años recientes. Si bien la literatura existente ha puesto el énfasis en las relaciones antagónicas de distribución que subyacen los procesos de captura de renta, aún falta por descifrar de qué manera la propiedad también ejerce un rol de coordinación en la expansión de redes globales de producción, infraestructura y comercio. Por otro lado, el creciente interés académico en la llamada “revolución logística” ha carecido de una teorización sistemática de cómo la creciente integración funcional en la economía mundial, se entrelaza con distintos regímenes de propiedad y prácticas rentistas. Para contribuir a este debate, exploramos la compleja e intrincada relación entre la propiedad y la circulación social del capital, tanto dentro como más allá de los mercados de tierras. Con ello, el artículo pone de relieve hasta qué punto la revolución logística ha elevado la importancia de las relaciones de propiedad—y por ende de la clase rentista—en las dinámicas de acumulación y conflicto que son propias del capitalismo tardío.
... As Chua argues, the proliferation of narratives, creative uses of and references to containers is sign of "a romance with the generalized fantasy of global cosmopolitan movement" (Chua 2016:7). As many have argued, narrations of capitals' expansion that accept capital's ultimate victory against what is defined as its "non-capitalist outside" or heterogeneous space, end up reproducing capital's own oppressive discourses and, ultimately, reifying them (Gibson Graham 1996Graham , 2006Massey 1994;Tsing 2009). ...
... My own is a commitment inspired by the work of feminist geographers and feminist ethnographers from a range of disciplines devoted to the study of capitalism (Gibson-Graham 2006;Gibson-Graham 1996;Gibson-Graham 2014;Katz 2001a;Katz 2001bKatz , 1994Tsing 2000bTsing , 2004Tsing , 2009Bear 2015;Rofel, Yanagisako & Segre 2018;Massey, 1994;Massey 2005). It is thinking with them that I have developed what I term as "infrastructural topography" as an approach to the field that would pay attention to the multiple and fragmented elements that intersects within the space-times I crossed and the different scales and histories folded in a single place (Massey 1994). ...
... My own is a commitment inspired by the work of feminist geographers and feminist ethnographers from a range of disciplines devoted to the study of capitalism (Gibson-Graham 2006;Gibson-Graham 1996;Gibson-Graham 2014;Katz 2001a;Katz 2001bKatz , 1994Tsing 2000bTsing , 2004Tsing , 2009Bear 2015;Rofel, Yanagisako & Segre 2018;Massey, 1994;Massey 2005). It is thinking with them that I have developed what I term as "infrastructural topography" as an approach to the field that would pay attention to the multiple and fragmented elements that intersects within the space-times I crossed and the different scales and histories folded in a single place (Massey 1994). ...
Conference Paper
This thesis is an ethnographic study of the making of logistical connectivity. The ethnography follows the project to transform the village of Anaklia on the Georgian Black Sea coast into a major logistical hub set to include a deep sea port, a smart city, and a special economic zone. This development, supported by the Georgian state and managed by a private multinational corporation was commonly referred to as “the project of the century” and understood to be vital for the country’s transformation into a transit corridor, an element of the Belt and Road Initiative that would forge new connections between Europe and Asia. Over the course of the ethnography, however, the project came to a halt. By charting the development and eventual demise of this ambitious infrastructural effort, this research brings together a theoretical and political focus on the geography of logistical capitalism with an ethnographic attention to practices of future-making. This thesis figures Anaklia as simultaneously an index and a product of the various processes that are brought together in the reproduction of what I call the “logistical future”. Two broad concerns run through the analysis. One is the observation that the creation of Anaklia as a future-oriented logistical space required copious amounts of manual, affective and administrative labour, even prior to its construction, by security guards, manual workers, managers, local residents, public relations professionals and others. The uses, intersections and dislocations of these different forms of labour are a central focus of this inquiry. Second, to understand how the village of Anaklia came to acquire the remarkable significance it did, attention needs to be paid to the ways in which infrastructural efforts in the present form as accretions of Georgia’s recent history. The logistical future, therefore, is by no means a coherent, linear horizon, rather it is a container for multiple temporal orientations sutured together through great efforts by all manners of actors committed to make logistics look smooth.
... Indigenous culture is not disappearing (Sahlins 1999) but is changing to a large and unpredictable extent; it is newly created in intercultural (Whitten 2008) and globalized (Clifford 2013) contexts, and often essentialized at national, transnational and local levels. The contemporary complexities of indigeneity unfold through the 'frictions' (Tsing 2005) created by concepts, practices and persons traveling between the United Nations, governments, organizations (international and grassroots) and remote villages and territories. If indigenous peoples are no longer the pre-modern and un-civilized Other but modern, they are still modern in a different way, unlike that once predicted by modernization theory. ...
... Indigenous modernities are thus not only shaped by indigenous peoples but co-constructed by non-indigenous actors (Meiser, this volume; see Tsing 2005) who are connected to the indigenous issue in various ways and profoundly affect its significance. Indigenous modernity and the indigenous rights movement (see Introduction) were shaped from their very beginning by non-indigenous actors, activists and cultural brokers. ...
... Such national and global redefinitions not only create unity, new understandings of the nation and an inclusive political rhetoric they also engender new pluralities, new frictions (Tsing 2005) and new forms of creolized and nationalized indigenous modernities. The emerging sociocultural forms build upon and refer to both indigenous and non-indigenous practices. ...
Chapter
This book’s contributions have offered an attempt to understand indigenous modernities as contemporary indigeneities that creatively overcome the first Enlightenment’s either/or distinction between the traditional or primitive and the modern. The book argues that indigenous peoples are not simply modern in terms of being co-constituted by the expansion of Europe. Indigenous modernities have developed from specific ways of engaging with, resisting, rejecting, adopting and transforming Western expansion and the impact of modern nation-states. Through these processes indigenous groups have been transformed in profound ways. What can be gained by theorizing indigenous modernities and what are the lessons learned from this book’s contributions?
... Amidst a general opposition to water reforms, activists plugged into international activist networks to quickly make a sophisticated critique of the technology, drawing on the imaginaries of rights versus commodities (see also Tsing 2005, Bakker 2007, Bywater 2012. Activists like Ram opposed the meters by drawing on their historic appearances and effects in different parts of the world. ...
... Instead, politics emerges from their "infrastructural situation" (cf. Tsing 2000). Based on the existing infrastructural assemblages of Mumbai, I suggest that the political effects of the meter are not contained by the meter, but emerge from the relations management systems in place at public utilities, or allocate water as a commodity through pricing mechanisms (Bakker 2010). ...
... It also details meetings called specifically for the "Design and Development or Pilot Public-Private Participation model for Water Distribution in K-East Ward, Mumbai" (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development 2006, Contract #8002529). 4 In her wonderful ethnography of global connections, Anna Tsing has attended closely to the travels of charismatic packages of activism between environmental activists in Brazil, Malaysia, India, and Indonesia (Tsing 2005). Just as activists share traveling allegories of justice, rights and environmental protest campaigns, so do city administrators in different parts of the world. ...
Article
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In November 2007, the Additional Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai announced Sujal Mumbai—a new program to upgrade the city’s water infrastructure. Amongst several initiatives was a proposal to connect new settlements to water lines regulated by prepaid meters. In this paper I focus on the surprising and unexpected appearance of the prepaid water meter in Mumbai to make two arguments. First, I argue that based on the particular technopolitical history of Mumbai’s water infrastructure, the neoliberal technology that was the prepaid meter represented not a withdrawal, but an extension of state services in the city. Second, I argue for an attention to the accreted and relational politics produced by infrastructural assemblages. The politics of technical devices or infrastructure are not discrete and singular, nor are these contained by the meter. Instead, the political effects of the meter are plural, and emerge from the relations between the meter and the accreted materials, histories, and rationalities already embedded and at work in infrastructural systems.
... Beyond this, the case shows that state control of frontier space and society is a contingent achievement that can unravel and be undone over time (Watts 2017) -particularly if statefacilitated investments 'fail to land somewhere and create something of value', or if they leave behind broken promises of development and compensation (Li 2014: 597). Where states force frontier society and space in the thrall of largescale investments, the worst of outcomes can be dystopian 'global neighbourhoods' (Gabbert 2018), involving multinational companies, government cadres and local communities with diverging interests and perspectives that collide to create 'frictions' that shape the particular course of an investment project and the context of the frontier (Tsing 2005). As an outcome, such frictions may leave various kinds of social, economic and ecological wreckage in their wake. ...
... survive) off of dysfunctional projects. is conjures up an 'economy of appearances' (Tsing 2000) 3 in which land, often initially appropriated by force or by law in the name of increasing productivity, in fact lies idle -much to the detriment of local communities. But the tenacity of farming and/or agropastoralist communities may allow them -precariously -to outlast such projects and reoccupy or reuse the land in question. ...
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This chapter provides an extended ethnographic case study of Flora EcoPower (FEP), a large-scale German agrofuel investment project that operated in East Ethiopia from 2005 until its eventual failure in 2015. FEP contracted thousands of farmers as outgrowers in East Hararghe, constructed an oil mill south of the city of Harar, and set up large-scale plantations on the Oromia–Somali regional borderlands to produce and process castor for biodiesel. Celebrated as a pioneering agro-industrial investment project, FEP’s investment project was in line with the state’s agricultural transformation strategy, part of which aimed to develop a biofuel programme that sought to put ‘degraded’ and ‘unused’ land in ‘marginal’ peripheries to productive use. Despite the high (modernist) hopes vested in FEP and similar biodiesel projects across the country, all of them failed. My anatomy of FEP’s history illustrates how Ethiopia’s ruling party facilitated FEP to advance state-building, gain socio-economic control over Hararghe and subdue territorial disputes in the regional borderlands. I show that this mode of extending the reach of the state by transforming agrarian and agro-pastoralist livelihoods through large-scale farmland investments in Hararghe was a risky strategy of territorialisation — one that backfired with unintended economic and political consequences for state and society, some aspects of which only revealed themselves a decade later. The case of FEP counter-poses research on Ethiopia that finds that farmland investments can serve as a lever to prise open frontiers — not only as a means of making visible and governing peripheral peoples, and of controlling access to and use of land, but also as a means of advancing state-building and initiating capital accumulation. Beyond this, however, it suggests that state control of frontier space and society is a contingent achievement that can unravel and be undone over time. Investment failures not only pose political risks to the state’s capacity to consolidate control over access to and use of frontier space, society and resources; they can also have boomerang effects and lead to backlashes against the authorities that initially enabled the investments. Much attention has been paid to the influx of farmland investments in the Global South and associated ‘land grabs’ justified on grounds of ‘unused’ lands. The failures of many investment projects and their specific long-term histories are, however, scarcely documented in the research literature. This study, moreover, demonstrates why many investment projects that start out with investors pursuing productive enterprises – supported by state planners driven by the modernist ‘will to improve’ the livelihoods of peripheral peoples through their integration into such projects – nonetheless fail spectacularly. The risks involved in making frontier investment projects productive and profitable often tempt investors to switch to speculative business strategies, while local actors may in turn pursue rent-seeking activities to try to feed (i.e. survive) off of dysfunctional projects. This conjures up an ‘economy of appearances’ in which land, often initially appropriated by force or by law in the name of increasing productivity, in fact lies idle — much to the detriment of local communities. But the tenacity of farming and/or agro-pastoralist communities may allow them—albeit precariously—to outlast such projects and reoccupy or reuse the land in question. After the initial land grab and eventual failure of the investor thus may follow a variety of micro land conflicts between local communities and state authorities. In Ethiopia, a backlash to state-facilitated farmland investments emerged in the years prior to Abiy Ahmed’s ascent to power in April 2018. Previously silent forms of resistance by affected communities against investment projects and the government officials enforcing them had gained in potency since the land rush took off — pushing land conflicts from the peripheries to the centre of political discourse in Ethiopia. The case of FEP is relevant here, representing a forerunner to many subsequent failures of and resistances to farmland investments in Ethiopia. FEP first made negative headlines by clearing land within the Babile Elephant Sanctuary. This was contested by local communities, who had lost access to parkland, while conservationists challenged the encroachment on elephant rangelands, making FEP basically synonymous with the Elephant Sanctuary conflict. For a number of reasons – which I explore here – FEP created many more problems that ultimately resulted in its failure. Previous reviews of FEP concluded that ‘the project is exceptional both in its size and the extent of its failure’. Despite strikingly similar biodiesel project failures elsewhere in Ethiopia, some insist that there still remains potential for such agrofuel investments in the future. However, with the benefit of hindsight, I suggest that FEP’s case is not only paradigmatic of the crisis of large-scale farmland investments in Ethiopia but also represents a precursor to the social contestation that eventually emerged in the wake of this crisis.
... The archaeology of colonial period occupations of these same regions provides an additional view of the persistence and enduring effects of precolonial commercial entanglements that both connected coastal/piedmont outposts to their highland centers and restricted movement along the extant political and territorial tensions. Emphasizing the "frictions" and blockages provided by preexisting assemblages in the region materializes the abstract "flows" used to model the circulation of people of things in such contexts of encounter and better account for the active influence of local social, political, and material contexts appropriated Spanish colonial administration (Rockefeller 2011;Tsing 2005). As noted previously, Spanish colonial administrators sought to impose new mechanisms of spatial and biopolitical control, while simultaneously retaining or actively incorporating Native assemblages that transgressed the boundaries they established. ...
... Analyses of ceramic comales through INAA, cacao agrosuitability, and inter-marriage network analyses provide insight into what, how, and where leaks in the colonial grid sprung in expected and unexpected ways. However, I have also emphasized the need to think about this circulation as more than just immaterial or disembodied flows of things over frictionless space (Rockefeller 2011;Tsing 2005). The abstract "state" vision of reduccion and congregacion and the grid it built to achieve its goals was threaded through and crosscut by assemblages that were economically crucial, given the affordances of different aspects of the taskscapes of highland and lowland Guatemala. ...
Article
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Spanish colonial incursions into highland Guatemala encountered a vibrant assemblage of entangled people, places, plants, and things. Colonists sought to marshall this assemblage into various accumulation projects through strategies of colonial control that re-ordered the landscape and its settlements, enabling new forms of surveillance, tracking, subject making, and exploitation of Native communities and laborers. This “grid” of control proved effective in many regards, particularly due to the preservation of the extant assemblage of infrastructure, social relations, and relations of production encountered. Rather than fully disrupt it, colonists accommodated this assemblage and sought to salvage value from its persistence. However, an ambivalence emerged from this dependence on the refracted assemblage of highland Guatemala; an assemblage that remained outside of colonists full control and made the colonial grid a thoroughly leaky one as people and things became or remained entangled in ways that subverted the goals of colonial control and afforded the persistence of Native communities and relations through, between and beyond the violence of colonization.
... My research echoes findings of these scholars, suggesting the translation of values among different movement contexts. In my research, activists encounter these values, part of what Tsing (2004) calls "activist packages," in organizing, academic, and social media spaces. They then adapt and apply them to their specific organizing contexts. ...
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This article analyzes how young people in the climate justice movement cultivate a prefigurative culture centered on justice as a response to the threat of climate change. Employing grounded theory and drawing on data from in-depth interviews with 29 youth activists and participant observation in Santa Barbara County, California, the birthplace of both the environmental movement and offshore oil drilling, I argue that four key values—relationships, accessibility, intersectionality, and community—enable movement building, a stated goal of the climate justice movement. These values emerge from interviewees’ words and practices. Drawing on John Foran’s (2014) notion of political cultures of creation, I conceptualize these values and the practices that embody them as constituting a “climate justice culture of creation” that shapes and is shaped by ideas, experiences, social relations, and the reality of a changing atmosphere. These values, and movement building, are about creating alternative futures—cultures that are not dependent on inequality and fossil fuels.
... (Gyau et al., 2014: 5) The wide uptake and use of these figures demonstrates the effortlessness with which misleading statistical and geospatial assessments of landcover change can travel. In the post-conflict context, such ideas have special potency, or what Anna Tsing (2005) might call ''friction'', in their ability to reframe debate and mobilize resources for conservation and development agendas. In Gishwati, simplified narratives of aggregate population pressure on the resource base belie the historical political ecological complexities that shaped Gishwati. ...
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Conservation-development projects are increasingly enacted across large expanses of land where human livelihoods hang in the balance. Recent initiatives–often called ‘landscape approaches’ or ‘ecosystem-based’ conservation–aim to achieve economic development and conservation goals through managing hybrid spaces. I argue that the landscape/ecosystem approach is a socioecological fix: an effort to resolve social-environmental crises through sinking capital (financial, natural, and social) into an imagined ecosystem. Rwanda’s Gishwati Forest has been the locus of diverse crises and fixes over the past 40 years, including an industrial forestry and dairy project, a refugee settlement, a privately managed chimpanzee sanctuary, a carbon sequestration platform, and, most recently, an ‘‘integrated silvo-pastoral conservation landscape.’’ This paper considers how these governance schemes have intersected with broader processes of agrarian change to generate crises that subsequent conservation/development projects then attempt to resolve. I demonstrate how visions for ecosystems privilege certain forms of governance around which imagined socioecological histories are mobilized to frame problems and legitimize certain solutions, technologies, and actors. The Gishwati ecosystem and its fixes are repeatedly defined through an imaginary of crisis and degradation that engenders large-scale landscape modification while foreclosing reflection about root causes of crises or how these might be addressed. Thus, even while conservation/development paradigms have shifted over the past 40 years (from separating people and nature to integrating them in conservation landscapes), this crisis-fix metabolism has consistently generated livelihood insecurity for the tens of thousands of people living in and around Gishwati. Imagining and enacting more just and inclusive social-environmental landscapes will require making space for diverse voices to define ecosystem form and function as well as addressing deeply rooted power imbalances that are at the heart of recurrent crises.
... Imported 'best practice' rarely leaves absolutely no trace in the receiving context, even if sometimes the overall impact is negative (see, for example, Altinyelken 2010). But the wider literature, as well as the articles in this volume, point again and again to the resilience of local practice as the 'sticky materiality' (Tsing 2005) of the pedagogical nexus slows down change or pushes it in unintended directions. In all of the cases presented here, the stability of this nexus over time is at least implied, even in a context of moving ideas and policies. ...
... Second, the chokepoint analytic focuses attention on the dynamic interplay of circulation and constriction. Useful here is Tsing's (2000) call to resituate global flows in 'landscapes' so as to understand how circulation is contingent upon the work of establishing and contesting 'channels'. The chokepoint analytic that we propose extends Tsing's metaphors of 'landscapes' and 'channels' and, later, 'friction' (2005). ...
Article
This article develops an anthropology of chokepoints: sites that constrict or ‘choke’ the flows of resources, information, and bodies upon which contemporary life depends. We argue that an ethnographic and analytical focus on chokepoints – ports, canals, tunnels, pipelines, transit corridors, and more – recasts longstanding anthropological concerns with the character and consequences of global circulation or ‘flow’. Chokepoints, we argue, are zones of operative paradox – where increased connectivity slows movement down; where the marginal become powerful; where local activities have distributed effects. Studied ethnographically, chokepoints reveal worlds animated neither by rapid circulation nor complete blockage, but by the dynamics of constriction and traffic. We approach the chokepoint as a site, an instrumental concept, and an analytic for exploring the constricted contemporary. Thinking with and through these choked arteries, we ask: What do chokepoints do? How? When? For whom? We conclude by offering eight dimensions of chokepoints as entry points for research.
... However, he also warns of possible side effects and the resistance that may arise from the gap between global programs and local realities. It is therefore illuminating to analyze transnational grassroots networks in the realm of their internal frictions and tensions surrounding knowledge appropriation (Tsing 2011). ...
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In the 1990s, various attempts to privatize water services in Latin America came from international financial institutions. Several social movements emerged to protest against privatization, especially from community and indigenous organizations collectively managing their water resources. Recent contestations are arising against extractivist states that aim to strengthen their control on strategic water resources for development purposes. Somewhat paradoxically, many water community networks have recently adopted an increasingly technical framing to be included in national decision-making processes and to be recognized as full-fledged actors in international arenas. In 2011, some of these networks created the Latin American Confederation of Community Organizations for Water Services and Sanitation (CLOCSAS). I analyzed the new strategies and frames mobilized by CLOCSAS that sought to break away from the legacy of antiprivatization movements. I studied how this rupture implies a process of professionalization and the appropriation of neoliberal practices and discourses. First, I presented the conceptual and theoretical background used to study the emergence of multiscale water community networks in Latin America. Second, I analyzed the strategies deployed by CLOCSAS, including the formalization of water community networks, the promotion of a new form of social technology, and the institutionalization of water community governance in the public sector. Finally, I discussed the ambiguities, ruptures, and tensions between water community governance and neoliberal practices.
... Recently, CAP is one part of policy to understand the PES as the 'neoliberalism challenges' on the AEP which is the state-supported on environmental protection due to the disruption on the farming (Dobbs and Pretty, 2008). In terms of the UK member status at the EU, the CAP has been the legacy of the generalization efforts end up with the making of the friction juxtaposing the insight from 'the global connection' (Tsing, 2005). The AEP, however, has seen as the traditionally more state-centered while the 'PES talk' has opened the access of 'adaptive opportunities' for private sector in the policy communities for the environmental protections (Ibid). ...
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The economic valuation of ecosystem services has promoted awareness from within the society to both the ecological and economic consequences of biodiversity loss. This has emerged with reference to the debate about its usefulness. This study, however, reviewed the concept of ecosystem services as a discourse within its metaphor about human dependence on the natural world. Some literature, reports or strategic plans, historical archives and websites were reviewed to conduct the sociopolitical analysis of the institutionalization of the concept in the prior review. It depicts specifically the context of the local communities’ movement to value the natural capital at the Lewes area, East Sussex, England as part of the programs to decouple ‘green payment’ from agricultural sector. Based on the collected evidences, this research argues, there have been a similar pattern of the institutional settings towards the environmental protections between changes related to agricultural pressures and urban pressures. Finally, it can be concluded that, the discourse of ecosystem services using the economic valuation process has also been shaped by the elite capture.
... Yet even as anthropological studies of disasters focus productively on the relationship between location and vulnerability, they fall short of considering the spatial contradictions of the post-disaster political economy. An important body of research that can contribute to addressing this lacuna in the literature is the impressive work on space and spatiality by geographers (Harvey 2005;Massey 2005; Lefebvre 1991)and political ecologists (Arabindoo 2005;Agnew and Corbridge 1995;Agrawal 2005), as well as anthropologists investigating the spatial dimensions of neoliberal governance (Ong 2006;Ferguson 2006Ferguson , 1990Ferguson and Gupta 2002;Tsing 2005). ...
... D'où l'intérêt d'analyser ces phénomènes à partir de leur dimension économique. Pour ce faire, il est important de prendre en compte les imbrications entre la dimension idéologique des activismes et leurs mises en pratique, et les tensions entre les deux(Tsing, 2005), sur le plan économique ainsi que dans la sphère politique. Dans les pages qui suivent, je tenterai de mettre à l'épreuve du terrain quelques-unes de ces propositions à travers deux cas d'étude : l'un, celui des paniers de légumes(de type AMAP) dans le Sud Est de la France, très localisé et ayant comme finalité le maintien de l'agriculture « paysanne » et l'approvisionnement en produits alimentaires à l'échelle « locale » ; l'autre, celui de Slow Food, ayant la forme structurée d'un mouvement, présent dans plusieurs pays du monde, et ayant l'objectif très large d'une nourriture « bonne, propre et juste » pour tous 11 . ...
... Such political interactions are subject to 'frictions' (Tsing 2005), which are central to our understanding of how traditional livelihoods and governance arrangements change. Frictions also include illegal or alegal resource activities (irregular land use, logging, mining and oil theft), that bring alongside them informal arrangements and rules and question the extent to which they are either considered criminal, corrupt or a hybrid mode in understanding the governance of place (Isunza Vera 2018). ...
... These visions cannot materialise through well-intended blueprints alone, including the top-down reintroduction of species; extension of fences; construction of ecolodges; or land appropriation (see also Lorimer et al., 2015). Instead, such visions depend on the co-performation of (potential) conflict processes through which these visions percolate over time (Tsing, 2005). This is especially the case when new visions are caught up in other discourses, including ambiguous roles and rules, as well as fierce competition for different futures (Borup et al., 2006;Krauß & Olwig, 2018). ...
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This paper explores the performative role of conflict avoidance in enabling rewilding and ecotourism visions in Western Iberia, one of the first European rewilding pilots situated in Northeast Portugal. Conflict avoidance is delineated here as a process based on expectations of potentially enduring, mutually contradicting and heated communications. In line with and contributing to a Social Systems Theory of conflicts, various examples of conflict avoidance are described as either a form of proactive anticipation to conflicts as risks or as a reactive adaptation to conflicts as dangers. The findings illustrate various forms of conflict avoidance in terms of silence, materialisation, co-optation, and ad hoc manoeuvring. These forms are subject to different goal dependencies of rewilding and ecotourism visions. Furthermore, these findings support a more critical discussion of the highly co-productive role of latent conflict processes in evolving rewilding and ecotourism practices in places like Western Iberia.
... Several studies work analytically with frictional encounters referring to Anna Tsing's (2005) notion of friction as a metaphor for diverse and conflicting interactions that make up global encounters (Hörbst, 2012;Nielsen and Langstrup, 2014;Nielsen and Jensen, 2013;Rogvi et al., 2016). One important point to draw from these studies is that frictions should not necessarily be seen as unsuccessful attempts to transfer HPIs. ...
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In recent years, it has become increasingly important to understand the global circulation of healthcare innovations in nations’ attempts to solve contemporary health challenges. This article is a systematic review and meta-ethnography–inspired analysis that explores the global circulation of health-related standards, protocols, procedures, and regulations, or what we term health-promoting infrastructures (HPIs). The notion of HPIs is defined as built networks that allow for the circulation of health expertise with the intention of promoting solutions that address global health problems. We conducted systematic searches in six relevant electronic databases and ended up with a set of 13 studies. The review shows that it takes arduous work to prepare and facilitate the travel of HPIs and to mold them into meaningful local forms. In conclusion, we argue that HPIs can helpfully be thought of as scripted forms, which are globally available in always sited efforts to address specific problems.
... Relational and assemblage thinking has a growing influence across critical political ecology (Bakker and Bridge 2006;Barney 2009;Bridge 2009;Peluso 2012) and anthropology (Li 2014a;Richardson and Weszkalnys 2014;Tsing 2011). One of the central tenets of such approach is the "unnaturalness" of natural resources. ...
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Since 2011 and the transition to civilian government, Myanmar and the Ayeyarwady Delta in particular are witnessing swift and dramatic changes in the modalities of access and use of natural resources. Drawing from political ecology, and on the basis of ethnographic work conducted in Yeinek village tract in the Nyaungdone Township of the Ayeyarwady Delta, this article places recent resources dynamics in a historical perspective. Rather than seeing natural resources as a 'given', we see them as resulting from socially embedded strategies of resource-making. These strategies contribute to a constant redefinition of the "resource-frontier" the delta has historically been for multiple actors. Notably, we show how land for rice cultivation, and water for capture fisheries and aquaculture, have been made into key resources over time, often in an exclusionary way. Post-2011 land and fishery reforms are the most recent examples of resource-making dynamics; they have certainly triggered significant resource re-allocation, but existing cross-scale patronage networks still largely shape how this takes place in practice. Finally, in this deltaic environment where resources are part water, part land, part rice, part fish, and the legitimacy of one's claims often hinges on proving prior use of a specific resource, it is the nature of the resource to be reallocated that is contested. In the newly politicized context of Myanmar, resources and institutional fluidity is in itself a frontier to navigate. Keywords: Ayeyarwady Delta; Myanmar; fisheries; land; resource making; frontier; exclusion
... Yet our case study demonstrates the tensions inherent in the private management of a common good [116], how water can be meaningfully considered a public entity [5,32,93,104,117], and how these debates affect environmental justice [33,34]. We have shown how resource extraction always implies some "messiness" [118] as private companies align with legal complexes and scientific evidence to exploit in very specific ways what is considered a common good [4,29,30]. In countries developing such as Chile, resource extraction is a key feature of the country's positioning in global markets as a rent economy. ...
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Chile’s neoliberal central water management gives shape to a series of conflicts arising from diverse understandings and ways of life linked to water. This article addresses the question of who is responsible for the ecological costs regarding water use of mining activity in the north of Chile. From the perspective of hydro-social territories, we analyze how the local population in Tarapacá is acting on unequal footing regarding environmental information and knowledge. Local and practical experiences are devalued against technical and scientific modeling, supported by legal and political definitions of “the environment” and “water”. Focusing on diverse local narratives, we show how the local population feels threatened by the environmental impacts of mining activity but struggles to find legitimate ways of articulating those anxieties to gain a sense of agency. We conclude that the local ecological consequences of extractivism in this region can only be understood in the context of the wider legal and economic framework regulating the appropriation of water as a resource and that long-term efforts in more participatory sociohydrological modeling might help to broaden the knowledge base for contested decision-making.
... Having this in mind, we need to reflect upon the question how adaptation programs and academia serve to produce not only the current conceptualisation of localised knowledge as inherent to a non-scientific, static "Other", but the "Other" itself. Anthropology could be a discipline that challenges such conceptualisations and their underlying power dynamics, as well as the material realities they elicit, and holds the potential to engage with "the contingency of encounters" (Tsing 2005:3). ...
Conference Paper
Paper short abstract: Observing a growing interest in knowledge and its production in anthropological studies on climate change, resilience, and local adaptation, this paper critically challenges such an epistemological understanding of knowledge as place-based, isolated, static and held by an imagined, homogenised other. Paper long abstract: This paper critically reviews current anthropological debates on knowledge production and climate change. It discusses power inequalities and the positioning of the anthropologist in ongoing research projects that are located in reception and observation studies, vulnerability assessments, and others. We observe that the way in which these projects engage with crucial questions in the emerging field of the anthropology of climate change, is a return to the use of arguments and methods brought up by early ethnoecological approaches. Just like its predecessor such ethno-climatological analysis carries the risk of reproducing dangerous ideas of homogenous, solitary groups, and unreflected hierarchies between local/place-based knowledge and globalised scientific knowledge. We aim to demonstrate the epistemological assumptions that are shaping the process of the anthropological inquiry about knowledge. Furthermore, we argue that research is influenced by utilitarian claims made in climate change adaptation projects and seldom reflects on the control and accessibility over its research outcomes and their uses. In response to this criticism, we argue for an anthropology transcending such binary conceptions of difference that needs to consider knowledge production as a process shaped by historical and current power structures. This requires the radical decolonisation of anthropology, its methods and approaches, the exploring of alternative methodologies and the recognition of dynamic connections and thinking beyond the boundaries of and imposed by western science. Finally, the realistic reflection of the systematic structures in which our discipline and we as researchers are entangled must be visualised, not only theoretically, but also in research practice.
... Instead, the 'global' subject, an integral part of a transnational economic system of outsourcing business processes and IT services, is produced through the alignment of these different articulations of cosmopolitanism. Anthropologists have long pointed out that capitalist entities seek to create specific categories of workers, through the appropriation of gender, race, or ethnicity, as a means of exerting control and extracting value from their workforce (Freeman 1993;Ong 1988;Tsing 2009). For example, the feminization of industrial workforces, as seen in East Asia and the maquiladoras of Latin America, was predicated on ideas that women were 'naturally' better at the dextrous work required in the manufacture of garments and light electronics (Mills 2003). ...
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In Dalian Software Park, China's centre for IT‐enabled outsourcing and offshore services, knowledge workers find themselves on the ‘assembly line’ of information processing, carrying out highly routinized, de‐skilled, and poorly paid work for which they are vastly overqualified. Following the recent attention to culture and personhood in studies of global capitalism, I argue that these knowledge workers are motivated by two forms of cosmopolitanism: corporate cosmopolitanism, the capacity to reconcile the supra‐territorial values of ‘global’ corporate culture with local values; and nationalist cosmopolitanism, whereby individual workers see the performance of cultural openness as a way of contributing to China's national project of modernization. As well as providing a rare account of cosmopolitanism in the workplace, this article demonstrates the significance of cosmopolitanism for the global economy. The pursuit of cosmopolitanism creates a productive friction between individual projects of self‐making, corporate projects of disciplining labour, as well as national projects of pursuing modernity and development.
... In similar vein, Pulido (2008, p. 342 , 1993, p. nization and promotion of yond that of writing for academic audiences . Hale (2006) counterposes (within anthropology) provingly summarizes Tsing (2005) as arguing (..) have degenerated into unmoored conversations among smart, critical, disaffected, and largely ineffectual 104). ...
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The ‘Cartesian divide’ between nature and society is a defining binary in the natural resources management and human development (NRM&HD) field. It creates many hurdles for addressing contemporary complexity in the dynamics of natural resources and development. Science exhibits ongoing boundary creation and boundary guarding – of the tribes and territories we call disciplines. Simultaneously the complexity of soci-etal problems has stimulated experiments with processes of boundary crossing, and the development of methodologies for boundary work, under the banner of inter‐ and transdisciplinary research. Interdiscipli-narity is critical interdisciplinarity, first, when it seeks to transcend divides created through binarism, and, second, when it is self‐conscious about paradigmatic location and adopts a scientific approach that allows the investigation of ‘politics’, including that of research and the researcher. Third, critical interdisciplinarity needs to be struggled for, as interdisciplinarity is not inherently critical, particularly in the present develop-ment research policy emphasis on instrumental interdisciplinarity as part of ‘benevolent’ development dis-courses. Interdisciplinarity may get depoliticized in sophisticated incarnations of instrumentalism like sus-tainability science. Keywords: Interdisciplinarity, sustainability science, natural resources management, critical science
... To do this, our analysis intentionally moves across multiple spatial and temporal scales, as we take seriously the shared insight across SES (especially cross-scale dynamics highlighted in work on panarchy) and humanities/social science approaches that any particular place or environmental challenge is shaped by a combination of multiple temporalities and layered spatial connections. 6,22 We thus examine deep-time histories of self-willed woodlands and longue dure´e relations among peoples and woodlands alongside more recent histories of commercialization and industrialization, drawing on the joint expertise of scholars with backgrounds in ecology, plant pathology, conservation, forestry, environmental history, and anthropology. ...
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While calls for interdisciplinary research in environmental contexts are common, it often remains a struggle to integrate humanities/qualitative social sciences insights with those of bio-physical approaches. We propose that cross-disciplinary historical perspectives can open new avenues for collaboration among social and natural scientists while expanding visions of possible future environments and management scenarios. We make these arguments through attention to woodlands, which are under pressure from complex socio-ecological stressors that can best be understood from interdisciplinary perspectives. By combining deep ecological and shallower social historical approaches, we show how history can both enrich our understand-ings of woodland pasts and provide a ground for better combining the case-based insights of humanistic history with those of deep-time ecological history. We conclude that such interdisciplinary historical approaches are important not only for research, but also for management (especially rewilding and scenario building), as the surprisingly large range of past changes reminds us that future conditions can be more varied than typically acknowledged.
... In this thesis, I am carrying on the legacy of anthropologists who have been documenting the commoditization of natural resources and struggles of host communities to protect it (e.g. Tsing 2005, Scott 2009, Sawyer 2004or Golub 2014 ...
Thesis
In 2006, over fifty thousand people in the Phulbari Sub-District of Bangladesh mobilized against an open-pit coal mining-project that posed serious environmental and social risks. The state authorities negotiated with the protesters intensively over four days to reach an agreement. However, the state failed to fulfill the agreement, and the protest movement continued. The agrarian communities successfully halted the mining project for the last nine years. My research aims to understand how the protesters resisted this project. My objectives have been to explore the practices of a grassroots movement, attendant transformations in the socio-political landscape and role of the state in a place of uprising. In addition to the Bangalee villagers, two types of stakeholders have played crucial roles in the movement: the indigenous Santals and the migrants. I have used an ethnographic approach to establish an account of the protests as viewed by rural villagers. My hope is that this research has the potential to illuminate how natural resources are contested sources of livelihood and identity and how the quest for capitalist modernity through revenue-based economic growth may threaten destruction of ecosystems, human rights violations and social injustice.
... Having this in mind, we need to reflect upon the question how adaptation programs and academia serve to produce not only the current conceptualisation of localised knowledge as inherent to a non-scientific, static "Other", but the "Other" itself. Anthropology could be a discipline that challenges such conceptualisations and their underlying power dynamics, as well as the material realities they elicit, and holds the potential to engage with "the contingency of encounters" (Tsing 2005:3). ...
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Paper short abstract: Observing a growing interest in knowledge and its production in anthropological studies on climate change, resilience, and local adaptation, this paper critically challenges such an epistemological understanding of knowledge as place-based, isolated, static and held by an imagined, homogenised other. Paper long abstract: This paper critically reviews current anthropological debates on knowledge production and climate change. It discusses power inequalities and the positioning of the anthropologist in ongoing research projects that are located in reception and observation studies, vulnerability assessments, and others. We observe that the way in which these projects engage with crucial questions in the emerging field of the anthropology of climate change, is a return to the use of arguments and methods brought up by early ethnoecological approaches. Just like its predecessor such ethno-climatological analysis carries the risk of reproducing dangerous ideas of homogenous, solitary groups, and unreflected hierarchies between local/place-based knowledge and globalised scientific knowledge. We aim to demonstrate the epistemological assumptions that are shaping the process of the anthropological inquiry about knowledge. Furthermore, we argue that research is influenced by utilitarian claims made in climate change adaptation projects and seldom reflects on the control and accessibility over its research outcomes and their uses. In response to this criticism, we argue for an anthropology transcending such binary conceptions of difference that needs to consider knowledge production as a process shaped by historical and current power structures. This requires the radical decolonisation of anthropology, its methods and approaches, the exploring of alternative methodologies and the recognition of dynamic connections and thinking beyond the boundaries of and imposed by western science. Finally, the realistic reflection of the systematic structures in which our discipline and we as researchers are entangled must be visualised, not only theoretically, but also in research practice.
Chapter
“Nature” and “culture” are defined variously. The dualist end of a spectrum sees “culture” as consisting of humans and their products and “nature” as comprising whatever is unaffected by humans. The other end sees but one “natureculture” integrating humans, other animals, and plants, and considers “nature” an artifact that humans construct in their observations and discussions. A bioculture is a local collection of humans, other species, and their interactions. Nonnative species can thus be parts of biocultures and may even replace native species to form new biocultures. To the extent that interactions among species arise through long processes of evolution and coevolution, a new bioculture thus formed will likely differ substantially from the previous one. Whether there are characteristic types of differences between such new biocultures and ones unaffected by nonnative species is an unexplored topic, just as is the question of whether novel ecosystems dominated by nonnative species characteristically differ from long-standing ones barely affected by humans. Whether we lament the loss of traditional biocultures probably depends largely on our perception and deep appreciation of the long sweeps of time underpinning much evolution and coevolution. A similar difference probably underlies conflicts between those who deplore ecological changes and local species extinctions wrought by nonnative species and those who accept, welcome, or even advocate producing them.
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Advancing relational accounts of ‘resource-making’ processes by deploying insights from science and technology studies, this article outlines crucial new lines of inquiry for geographical research on unconventional fossil fuels. The exploitation of various carbon-rich substitutes for hydrocarbons has rapidly expanded over the last two decades, to become a highly contentious issue which augments scientific dissensus and generates new collective engagements with the subsurface. The article invites geographers to examine the epistemically and politically transformative potential of such resource-making controversies in terms of reconfiguring: the production of geoscientific knowledge, anticipation of post-conventional energy systems, and temporal strategies of (de)economizing extractive futures.
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Horizontes Antropológicos Número 60, ano 27, 2021 Disponível on line em https://www.scielo.br/j/ha/i/2021.v27n60/
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In May of 2014, the Thai military deposed elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Since the coup, the chief aim of the military government has been to bring order to the country by silencing politics. In this paper, I trace the drift from democracy to dictatorship as a set of disagreements about democracy and its redistribution of political capacity. Specifically, I show how debates revolving around the political capacities of the poor reflect both the emergence of a new subject of politics and the anxieties produced by shifting arrangements of the political. ¹ Working from the vantage point of urban railway squatter communities in northeastern Thailand, I show how disagreements between residents, non-governmental organization activists, state development agencies and the military reflect unresolved tensions between multiple orderings of the political and the unreconciled question of who is a legitimate political actor. Residents’ engagements with development projects preceding the coup expose the ways in which their emergent claims to political capacity provoked new governmental strategies to incorporate their voices but manage their political aspirations. Military rule has once again transformed the shape of the political, narrowing the horizons of political possibility for citizens such as those living along the railway tracks. Yet, even amidst such threats, the military government remains fragile precisely because the political is always contingent, composed of heterogeneous disagreements. By making these processes legible through an ethnography of disagreement, I argue that anthropology and ethnography are fundamental for understanding the emerging forms of the political in the 21st century.
Thesis
This dissertation explores the re-emergence of imprisonment as a major social policy in New South Wales, Australia and Pennsylvania, USA during the late twentieth-century. It focuses on three themes: (1) the increasing visibility of prisons; (2) transnational relationships in penal reform; and (3) the flow of penal knowledge. The introduction of rehabilitation after World War II proved to be very contentious with prison staff and the broader public and they encouraged greater criticism from prisoners. These reforms coincided with the formation of a transnational, prisoners’ rights movement, which attempted to redefine the status of confined people. Penal authorities struggled to explain the efficacy of their policies and increases in crime and prison unrest. These problems engulfed the penal system in both states in controversy and created a vacuum of control within prisons. Staff resorted to more control strategies, like segregation and officials imported practices, like classification, from other jurisdictions, and build new prisons. By the 1990s, prison populations in both states grew rapidly, but there was little agreement on what prisons should do other than incapacitate people.
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Across the globe, community-oriented protected areas are increasingly recognised as an effective way to support the preservation and maintenance of the traditional biodiversity related knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities. We argue that guaranteed land security and the ability of indigenous and local peoples to exercise their own governance structures is central to the success of community-oriented protected area programs. In particular, we examine the conservation and community development outcomes of the Indigenous Protected Area program in Australia, which is based on the premise that indigenous landowners exercise effective control over environmental governance, including management plans, within their jurisdiction (whether customary or state-based or a combination of elements of both), and have effective control of access to their lands, waters and resources. Key Words: community-oriented protected areas, Indigenous rights, conservation, Australia
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Large-scale infrastructure in conflict-affected states is often seen as a crucial means to pursue economic growth, poverty reduction, and increasingly, peace-building. Legitimated by an emergent ‘Business for Peace’ agenda, a variety of private actors now also engages in such infrastructure projects. The Virunga Alliance is such an initiative which aims to tackle the interlinked problems of poverty, conservation and conflict in the east of DR Congo through commercialised hydro-power. To take stock of the politics unfolding around such infrastructure efforts, this article analyses the Virunga Alliance as a form of ‘technopolitics’. This entails tracing how current is generated, distributed and consumed, and how these processes generate new sites of power and control. In describing how Virunga offers a centralised, more concentrated supply of electricity as an alternative to the decentralised charcoal circuit, we show how electrification contributes to the expansion of a form of capitalism that prioritises big businessmen over small farmers, facilitates rent-seeking by political elites and amplifies social inequalities in Congo.
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Global governance has become part of the international relations vocabulary. As an analytical category and as a political project it is a strong tool that illustrates the major complexities of world politics in contexts of globalization. The study of global governance has expanded and superseded traditional approaches to international relations that focus on relations among states. Moreover, the study of global governance and has included nonstate actors and their dynamics into a more intricate thematic agenda of global politics. However, global governance has become less a political space of deliberation and more of a managerial aspect of world politics because of some assumptions about reality, humanity, and the international community. It would appear that this is a result of the predominance of liberal thought in world politics after the end of the Cold War. Regardless of how diverse the approaches to global governance may appear, the ontological assumptions-that is, the beliefs about reality that are behind its definition, conceptualization, and implementation as political projects-are not neutral nor are they universal. These assumptions respond to specific appreciations of reality and are inherited from Western modernity. The problem with this is that claims to contemplate the interests of humanity as a whole abound in global governance institutions and arrangements, whereas in fact global governance is constructed by neglecting other possible realities about the world. The consequences of this conceptualization are important in the sense that global governance becomes a tool of exclusion. Only by taking into consideration the ontological difference through which global governance can reflect the complexities of a diverse world can one explore the importance of alternative governances as a way to consider how global orders can be approached. Such alternative global governances draw from ontological pluralism and conceive political global orders as based on the coexistence and negotiation of different realities.
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“Designed in California” is a brand statement used by high-tech manufacturers to denote provenance and cachet of digital innovation and modernity. In this paper, we explore philosophically alternate design perspectives to those this statement embodies, reporting and reflecting on a long-term multi-sited project that seeks to diversify future-making by engaging communities of “emergent” users in “developing” regions. We argue that digital technologies are typically created with a design lens firmly focused on “first world” populations, assuming a base set of cultural norms, resource availabilities, and technological experience levels that do not strongly align with those of emergent users. We discuss and argue for inclusive technology design methods, present our approach, and detail indicative results and case studies as an example of the potential of these perspectives in uncovering radical innovations. Distilling findings and lessons learned, we present a methodology—itinerative design—that pivots between emergent user communities across multiple regions, driving digital innovation through the periphery of mainstream design’s current remit.
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Recent work within HCI and CSCW has become attentive to the politics of data and metrics in order to highlight the implications of what counts and how. In this paper, we relate these discussions to the longstanding distinctions made between value and values. We introduce literature on 'Valuation Studies' and argue for understanding the politics of data through valuation - an ongoing social practice that transforms socially embedded values into different forms of more abstract value. This theoretical work is developed through an ethnographic study of contemporary UK charity shops, as a site focused on the labour of valuation, but embedded in both local and global values. Through this study, we consider implications for the intervention and design of 'data-driven innovation', with a particular focus on distributed ledger technologies. We argue that these technologies inevitably engage in valuation, and require careful attention to the ongoing processes by which value is translated and performed by different stakeholders.
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This paper explores computing education as a potential site for intercultural learning and encounter in post-conflict environments. It reports on ethnographic fieldwork from the Nairobi Play Project, a constructionist educational program serving adolescents aged 14-18 in urban and rural multi-ethnic refugee communities in Kenya. While the program offers programming and game design instruction, an equal goal is to foster interaction, collaboration, dialogue and understanding across cultural backgrounds. Based on fieldwork from two project cycles involving 5 after-school classes of 12-24 students each, we describe key affordances for encounter, important resistances to be managed or overcome, and emergent complications in the execution of such programs. We argue that many important accomplishments of intercultural learning occur through moments of friction, breakdowns, and gaps -- for example, technical challenges that produce sites of shared humour; frictions between intercultural activities and computing activities; acts of disrupting order; and unstructured time that students collaboratively fill in. We also describe significant complications in such programs, including pressures to adopt norms and practices consistent with dominant or majority cultures, and instances of intercultural bonding over artefacts with xenophobic themes. We reflect on the implications of these phenomena for the design of future programs that use computing as a backbone for intercultural learning or diversity and inclusion efforts in CSCW, ICTD, and allied fields of work.
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Environmental efforts on Corsica abound and often make use of the local language. In this article, I survey the semiotics of different ‘green’ artefacts and the use of Corsican therein. Based on ethnographic data including pedagogical tools (textbooks) and practices (field trips), artefacts from ecotourism (pamphlets) and everyday items (grocery bags), and photographs of the linguistic landscape, I illustrate the workings of minority language use in everyday environmental activism. Posthumanist orientations to language and communication underlie the analysis of green Corsican assemblages, products of and catalysts for the coming‐together of disparate resources that construct a unique stewardship.
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Livelihoods in Tanzania are constructed through a diverse range of practices. This paper draws on the Livelihoods Approach alongside the ‘double exposure’ framework in order to explore how households on Mount Kilimanjaro construct their livelihoods, and are constrained by the local and wider political economy. Specifically, it uses these frameworks in order to explore how people may in future adapt to an increasingly changing climate. Most households in the case study region are found to be highly reliant on the natural base of the area, and are liable to be highly vulnerable to future climate change. Means by which households can reduce vulnerability are explored, and the most feasible are found to be those that involve a reduction in reliance on direct production from nature. The paper concludes with a discussion of the appropriateness of the research framework, and argues that a dialectical approach may enable more appropriate questions to be posed and engaged with.
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