Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Resistance
Secondary Theme: Anthropocene
This panel explores how ecological milieus are differentially remade by sovereign states and/or resistance movements, both materially and affectively, in their complex efforts to describe the quality of human and non-human lives in such environments, after the fact of their destruction, and by so doing, to provide ideological and practical means for trying to orient the rehabilitation of destroyed milieus. Conceptually, we are interested in the material and affective politics of nature, in the making of connections between humans and non-human things and selves by engaging with theoretical works that highlight how we “become with” (Haraway 2008, 3), how our engagement with the material world makes us who we become. We find strong resonances in the works of Isabelle Stengers (2005) and Marisol de la Cadena (2010). While Stengers (2005, 184) formulates an “ecology of practice” which refuses to privilege a transcendental (scientific, human-centred, and revolutionary) perspective on the basis of which all other actions must be eclipsed, de la Cadena (2010, 361) proposes to take the indigenous peoples’ relationship with mountains seriously, that is, “literally, rather than metaphorically.” Relatedly, many recent post-humanist theories are contentious in that they risk creating overly-romanticized aesthetical cosmologies where humans and trees, buildings and rocks, and animals and rivers are graced with ontological properties immune to the perplexing force of affects. Conversely, a vital thing to consider is the possibilities of affective ecologies, which turn post-human interpretations into political fragments. Fragments which materially and aesthetically infuse all ecological environments with sounds, scars, and deterioration resulting from years of war-related loss and colonial displacement, and with the possibilities for alternative political imaginaries and praxis.