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Accepted Paper:

The future of past reefs: politics of care in oyster restoration across the Northern Atlantic  
Annet Pauwelussen (Wageningen University)

Paper Short Abstract:

A surge of restoration initiatives aims to bring oyster reefs back from brink of extinction, thereby shaping new kinds of marine nature for an uncertain future. Through the lens of care, I explore how restoration enacts in-/exclusions in knowing and caring for oysters across the Northern Atlantic.

Paper Abstract:

A surge of marine restoration initiatives promises to bring reefs back from the brink of extinction. Yet, in current times of ecological precarity, there is no ‘natural condition’ to go back to. Instead, restoration shapes new kinds of marine nature for an uncertain future. Applying the feminist theoretical lens of ‘care' I re-conceptualize the politics involved in reef restoration. Despite its moral association of ‘doing good’, care is political. It is underpinned by different assumptions of what is a good and healthy reef, and what knowledge should guide intervention. How do such politics of care shape the conditions for including different kinds of knowledge and values in marine restoration? Addressing this question, I explore how restoration enacts specific inclusions and exclusions in knowing and caring for marine reef-building creatures. While corals receive growing attention in marine anthropology, a silent revolution is taking place in colder waters. Here, a proliferation of projects enacts oyster as a rising matter of concern and care in the restoration of marine biodiversity. I draw from multi-sited anthropological research, connecting case studies in the United States, Netherlands and United Kingdom. Here, oyster reefs are uniquely entangled with transatlantic cultural history and industrialization. An ethnographic focus on oyster care practices sheds light on the current re-imagining and re-shaping of human-nature connections in (post)industrial degraded marine environments in the North.

Panel OP120
Caring for ocean creatures
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -