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Accepted Paper:

Enacting the city, with fog: Speculative relations and fog capture in Lima  
Chakad Ojani (Uppsala University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses fog capture in the urban periphery in Lima. I frame these alternative off-the-grid water provision systems as experimental devices for imagining the urban political ecology differently, and I draw from devices to frame anthropological inquiry itself in terms of capture.

Paper long abstract:

Social theorists have long turned to the urban periphery in Lima to theorise auto-construction and self-help. While vulnerable to tropes of resilience and self-empowerment, such inquiries have nonetheless helped crafting the periphery into an epistemic object and location from where to theorise modernity's contradictions. In a somewhat different vein, in this paper I approach the periphery as in and of itself ontologically and epistemologically productive: a site from where the city continuously and speculatively theorises itself. I do so with recourse to my fieldwork on fog capture in Lima. Often a disappointing humanitarian technology or off-the-grid alternative to State induced large-scale infrastructural provisioning, fog traps have nonetheless served as experimental devices that elicit a series of relations to residents in the urban periphery. While setting out to trap and condense water droplets suspended in the air, fog traps relate fog, airborne particles, and the city, on the one hand, and the atmospherical, vegetation, and the underground, on the other hand. As such, fog catchers are devices for imagining the urban political ecology differently. I draw on these relations, rendered visible through experimental activities with fog catchers, to ask what ethnographic description itself, when framed in terms of capture, may body forth. By following Corsín Jiménez's (2018) framing of traps as heuristics for description, I discuss what anthropological inquiry can take with it from how the city enacts itself through relations of capture to fog.

Panel P011
Peripheral Speculations in the City [Colleex network]
  Session 1 Friday 24 July, 2020, -