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Accepted Paper:

Borderlands Landscape Ethnography: Competing futurities in the Sky Islands  
Darcy Alexandra (University of Bern)

Paper short abstract:

Within a landscape of deadly migration policies, extractive surveillance infrastructure, and some of the most diverse ecological networks in the Americas, this audio-visual landscape ethnography will examine contesting theories of futurity in the US-Mexico borderlands.

Paper long abstract:

Surveillance technologies hold competing objectives in the US-Mexico borderlands. State surveillance is a long-standing aspect of settler colonialism (Guidotti-Hernández 2011). An everyday reality of life for borderlands dwellers, surveillance statecraft includes a "virtual wall" of integrated fixed towers (IFTs), resource-intensive infrastructure, and the production of massive surveillance data (Miller 2021). In its construction and maintenance, the extraction of precious, limited water resources is essential. On the other side of the equation, environmental scientists, citizen-scientists, and community activists also employ diverse statecraft technologies to study and protect riparian waterways and revitalize threatened watersheds and wildlife travel corridors along the borderland’s "Sky Islands” –mountain ranges connected by a “sea” of radically different, desert lowland environments.

In this context, the landscape itself becomes a protagonist, a character in the process. This presentation will draw from preliminary findings from fieldwork conducted for the Swiss National Science Foundation research, Entre Rios: Surveillance and Futurity in the US Mexico Borderlands, a project positioning the Sonoran Desert as a vital region from which to study contesting theories of futurity. Focusing on the divergent histories of the San Pedro and Santa Cruz watersheds, the audio-visual landscape ethnography examines futurity in relation to notions of security and collective wellbeing. Within this landscape of deadly migration policies, extractive surveillance infrastructure, and some of the most diverse ecological networks in the Americas, the research aims to learn from this expanded landscape, including local stakeholders who are imagining more equitable and livable futures.

Panel P027
Imagining alternative data futures
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -