Andrea Ballestero’s new book! A future history of water

Ballestero.jpgIf, like me, you’ve been waiting for this title, it will be out next month. Details below on Andrea Ballestero’s fascinating research:

From Duke University Press here:

Based on fieldwork among state officials, NGOs, politicians, and activists in Costa Rica and Brazil, A Future History of Water traces the unspectacular work necessary to make water access a human right and a human right something different from a commodity. Andrea Ballestero shows how these ephemeral distinctions are made through four technolegal devices—formula, index, list and pact. She argues that what is at stake in these devices is not the making of a distinct future but what counts as the future in the first place. A Future History of Water is an ethnographically rich and conceptually charged journey into ant-filled water meters, fantastical water taxonomies, promises captured on slips of paper, and statistical maneuvers that dissolve the human of human rights. Ultimately, Ballestero demonstrates what happens when instead of trying to fix its meaning, we make water’s changing form the precondition of our analyses.

Praise:

“Andrea Ballestero masterfully brings analytic complexity to wide-ranging fields while simultaneously showing us that these fields are not as separate as they first seem. If this sounds like ethnographic magic, that’s because it is: the magic of a most creative method carefully and brilliantly pursued to provide awareness of scholarly habits of thought, in the process, offering alter-inspiration.” — Marisol de la Cadena, author of Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice across Andean Worlds

“Andrea Ballestero is one of the most eloquent environmental ethnographers of her generation and one of the most important ethnographers of scientific practice that I have ever encountered. Her writing is beautiful, her theoretical and analytic ability are stunning, and the connections that she makes between her empirical evidence and larger conversations in the social sciences are breathtaking. While there are other anthropologists who write about the kinds of techniques that Ballestero dissects, historicizes, and theorizes, nobody does it while always grounding them in social relations and social reproduction.” — Paige West, author of Dispossession and the Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea

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Political Ecologies of the Far Right: Call for papers

Call for Contributions: Political Ecologies of the Far Right, 15-17 Nov 2019

Lund University, 15-17 November 2019
www.pefr.hek.lu.se

An interdisciplinary academic-activist conference organized by the Human Ecology Division at Lund University in collaboration with The Zetkin Collective and CEFORCED at Chalmers University

Far-right political parties, ideologies and social movements are increasingly exercising influence across the world. At the same time, ecological issues, such as climate change, deforestation, land use change, biodiversity loss, and toxic waste are intensifying in their urgency. What happens when the two phenomena meet? How, when and why do they intersect? How are party and non-party sectors of the far right mobilizing ecological issues and discourses to their advantage, whether through championing or rejecting environmentalist claims? What are the ecological underpinnings of far-right politics today? This understudied topic forms the basis of this interdisciplinary conference on the political ecologies of the far right.

From Trump and Bolsonaro to the Sweden Democrats and AfD, a radical anti-environmentalism is most often championed by the contemporary far right. This stance resonates with a conspiratorial suspicion of the state, science, elites, globalism, and supposed processes of moral, cultural and social decay. This is most clearly pronounced in climate change denialism and defense of fossil fuels, which have undergone a global resurgence in recent years. But the same position is also articulated in, for example, anti-vegetarianism or opposition to renewables. How can we understand the causes of far right rejection of environmentalism and environmental concerns where it occurs? What broader ideologies, interests, psychologies, histories, narratives and perceptions does it reflect? What might the implications be for ecological futures if far-right parties continue to amass power? How can the climate justice and other environmental movements and anti-racist, anti-fascist activism converge and collaborate?

On the other hand, it is an inconvenient truth that there is a long-standing shadowy legacy of genealogical connections between environmental concern and far-right thought, from links between conservation and eugenics in the early national parks movement in the US, to dark green currents within Nazism. Hostility to immigration informed by Malthusian thinking and regressive forms of patriotic localism have often surfaced in Western environmentalism. Today, the mainstream environmental movement is more usually aligned with leftist, progressive policies, yet the conservative streak that always lies dormant in overly romanticized conceptions of landscape and nature, or fears about over-population, lie ripe for mobilization in new unholy alliances between green and xenophobic, nativist ideologies. In what forms does this nexus appear around the world today and with what possible consequences? What frames, linkages and concerns are central to eco-right narratives? How can environmental thinking ward off the specter of green nationalism?

How to apply:

The conference aims to bring together not only scholars working at the interface of political ecology and far right studies but also activists from environmental, anti-fascist and anti-racist organizations and movements. We believe there is still much work to do to bring together these often separate strands of scholar and activist work together, and much opportunity for collaboration, mutual learning, and networking. This conference aims to hold a space for such engagement.

Scholars: We welcome contributions from all disciplines (geography, anthropology, sociology, history, literature, political science, cultural studies, sustainability studies, STS, philosophy, art history, media studies, communication studies, et cetera). Apart from individual papers, we also welcome suggestions for panels and workshops.

Activists: At least one day of the conference (Sunday – TBC) will focus on activist practices, with an emphasis on sharing and developing ideas and synergies between green and anti-fascist thinking and working, and on ways to collectively prevent a scenario of ‘ecological crisis meets fascist populism’. We invite activist groups and individuals to submit proposals for workshops, discussions, and presentations.

In line with recent calls for radical emissions reductions at Swedish universities, we encourage prospective participants to consider other travel options than aviation if possible. We are also open to presentations via video link.

Submission of abstracts: Please send abstracts (max. 350 words) to pefr@hek.lu.se by Thursday 16th May. There are a limited number of travel bursaries available (we will prefer non-aviation means where possible) for those who are most in need of support. Please indicate in your application whether you would like to be considered.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

• climate denialism/climate change, fossil fuels and the far right
• anti-environmentalism of far right
• linking environmental, anti-fascist, anti-racist activism and social movements
• ‘cultural marxism’, conspiracy theories and the environment
• gender, sexuality, the far right and environment (eco, hegemonic or industrial masculinities, anti-feminism, normative heterosexuality, patriarchy)
• renewable energy, vegan/vegetarianism, animal rights, agriculture, toxic waste, land use change, biodiversity extinction, pollution etc and the far right
• environmental science, epistemology and the far right
• racism, xenophobia, nature, conservation, ecology, wilderness and far right
• whiteness as/and ‘endangered’ species
• scenarios of a far-right ecological future
• religion, ecology and the far right
• populism, authoritarianism, neoliberalism, alt-right, far right
• greenwashing, industry links, capital and funding for the far right and links with environmental issues
• far right narratives on development, progress, and futures and their ecological conceptualization
• environmental history of green ideas in far right politics
• dark green histories and genealogies of environmentalism
• infiltrations of and unhappy alliances between the contemporary far right and environmentalists
• ecofascism, bio-nazism, green nationalism
• psychologies, affects, emotions, private lives of the ecologies of the far right
• historical legacies of ecologically unequal exchange and racial capitalism

Irma Kinga Allen
Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD Fellow, ENHANCE ITN
Environmental Humanities Laboratory
Division of History of Science, Technology and EnvironmentKTH – Royal Institute of TechnologyTeknikringen 74D, 5th Floor, Office 1545, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

My latest paper – The Moral Geography of the Earth System

My latest paper is now out entitled, The Moral Geography of the Earth System. It is currently free access here (thanks Wiley!). And it is permanently open-access here, though only in read-only. If there is a problem with the second link try pasting this in your browser: https://rdcu.be/bw0VI (or click the link in the header to my publications page and go from there).

I’m especially keen on reactions to this article, which tries to do a couple of things to set up a concluding argument: that the form of integration achieved under neoliberal forms of sustainable development is now giving way to new forms of neoliberalism without nature.

The first half argues that one of the key things the Anthropocene is often taken to imply is the loss of ‘other’ spaces, places, and landscapes since one set of (cumulative) social actions now affect how the Earth system functions. The Capitalocene, for instance, is a way to describle those social actions as being primarily compelled and constrained by capitalist forms of accumulation or extraction. As interesting as those debates are, I’m interested here in how response to this loss of others has generated new attempts to describe how we might understand belonging in a new geological era. New debates around the (1) novelty of the Anthropocene, (2) temporal mis-matches between history and geology, (3) new ontological ideas about what is or may exist (or what is or may become), and (4) what sorts of agents need to be accounted for all shape this new arena. I try to think through the accounts of some of the most cited proponents of each. These aren’t necessarily the best accounts of each, and I didn’t pick them with a view to adjudicate. Rather, I chose them because even some of the most widely circulating accounts both have some residual problems (which I point out) and also tend to have targets to the side of new practices now shaping notions of belonging in the Anthropocene–perhaps most notably because they focus on macro, or meta-ethical claims about the proposed epoch as a whole, which is partly why I highlight the Earth system (which is changing in many different ways) rather than the Anthropocene.

So, the second part of the paper looks at two of these new practices as they are circulating in international law and, to some extent, among members of the Anthropocene Working Group. The first of these practices is the idea that we should use the planetary boundaries framework as a kind of grundnorm (a norm basic to all others) in global governance.  The second practice is the idea that humans are part of a geological sphere known as the technosphere that includes buildings, internet cables, and all of the materials and energy that are now organized to support humans. Both of these concepts are gaining steam, albeit in their own ways, as they circulate in the interdisciplinary conversations about how to make sense and semblance of different normative concerns that arise in the context of human impacts on the Earth system.

The final section of the paper names a phenomenon I term neoliberalism without nature. In part, this is a side-long response to arguments that neoliberalism has been rearranging nature for some time through new commodity chains, privatization, and so on. What I am more keen to point out, however, is that nature isn’t needed for any of this. That is, the economy doesn’t need some sort of ‘frontier’ or new space for accumulation in the classic sense that some political economists promote. In fact, I think the idea of neoliberalism without nature helps to focus a set of familial critiques developed by people like Eve Chiapello and Melinda Cooper, who have been pointing out how different financial technologies and practices increasingly shape understandings of how the environment and the economy are entangled with one another. I think that there is some room to expand on these kinds of critiques. I don’t do that in this article, but have plans to do so in the works.

 

 

New Book from Ingrid Stefanovic – The Wonder of Water: Lived Experience, Policy, and Practice

This is a great looking new title edited by Ingrid Stefanovic here with the University of Toronto Press.

SP005904Facing droughts, floods, and water security challenges, society is increasingly forced to develop new policies and practices to cope with the impacts of climate change. From taken-for-granted values and perceptions to embodied, existential modes of engaging our world, human perspectives impact decision-making and behavior.

The Wonder of Water explores how human experience – from embodied cultural paradigms to value systems and personal biases – impact decisions around water. In many ways, the volume expands on the growing field of water ethics to include questions around environmental aesthetics, psychology, and ontology. And yet this book is not simply for philosophers. On the contrary, a specific aim is to explore how more informed philosophical dialogue will lead to more insightful public policies and practices.

Case studies describe specific architectural and planning decisions, fisheries policies, urban ecological restorations and more. The overarching phenomenological perspective, however, means that these discussions emerge within a sensibility toward the foundational significance of human embodiment, culture, language, worldviews, and, ultimately, moral attunement to place.

Tales of Sweetgrass and Trees: Robin Wall Kimmerer with Richard Powers and Terry Tempest Williams

Great new book from Karine Gagné: Caring for Glaciers: Land, Animals, and Humanity in the Himalayas

This is a great looking new title from Karine Gagné at the University of Guelph.

Available here from University of Washington Press, where the blurb below is also from.

GAGASGRegional geopolitical processes have turned the Himalayan region of Ladakh, in northwest India, into a strategic border area with an increasing military presence that has decentered the traditional agropastoralist economy. This in turn has led to social fragmentation, the growing isolation of elders, and ethical dilemmas for those who strive to maintain traditional subsistence activities. Simultaneously, climate change is causing glaciers – a vital source of life in the region – to recede, which elders perceive as the consequence of a broken bond with the natural environment and the deities that inhabit the landscape.

Caring for Glaciers looks at the causes and consequences of ongoing social and cultural change in peoples’ relationship with the natural environment. It illuminates how relations of reciprocity – learned through everyday life and work in the mountains with the animals, glaciers, and deities that form Ladakh’s sacred geography – shape and nurture an ethics of care. Integrating contemporary studies of affect, landscape, and multispecies anthropology, Caring for Glaciers contributes to the anthropology of ethics by examining the moral order that develops through the embodied experience of life and work in the Himalayas.

Karine Gagné is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Guelph.

“The idea of morality serves as an axis for Gagné to bring together climate change, geopolitical tensions within and between nations, and the dilemmas of Indigenous peoples faced with the forces of nationalism and globalization.”
-Benjamin Orlove, anthropologist and professor of international and public affairs, Columbia University

“A timely and important foregrounding of the complex assemblage of human environmental relationships in the Himalayas.”
-Mona Bhan, coauthor of Climate without Nature: A Critical Anthropology of the Anthropocene

“Karine Gagné offers a perceptive and ethnographically rich monograph to the growing field of borderlands studies in high Asia and boosts our awareness of the Human-Nature bond on these margins.”
-Jean Michaud, coauthor of Frontier Livelihoods: Hmong in the Sino-Vietnamese Borderlands

 

New Book – Our history is the future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance

Nick Estes has been writing about Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock in powerful ways, so his new book coming in just over one month’s time is one I look forward to reading (also a co-edited book here!)

Here is the book description from Verso (available elsewhere too, I believe with Penguin/Random House in Canada):

How two centuries of Indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life”

 

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In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenous protest movement in the twenty-first century. Water Protectors knew this battle for native sovereignty had already been fought many times before, and that, even after the encampment was gone, their anticolonial struggle would continue. In Our History Is the Future, Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance that led to the #NoDAPL movement. Our History Is the Future is at once a work of history, a manifesto, and an intergenerational story of resistance.

Global Red Power: Fourth World Resurgent, Glen Coulthard’s Antipode Lecture

Naomi Oreskes on “Giant Power: Technology, Energy, and the Beginnings of Post-Truth America”

John Borrows and Val Napoleon: The role of the sacred in Indigenous law and reconciliation