Disentangling ecologies: working around 'the system'
Emily Yates-Doerr (University of Amsterdam)
Friday 2 September, 11:00-12:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

How can we work with substances and organisms that refuse systematicity while attending to ecologies that nurture us? This experimental roundtable takes coherence and disentanglement as empirical objects, asking how we can develop non-systemic togetherness.

Long abstract:

Poisonous waste. Microbial contagion. Mineral extraction. Epigenetic toxicity. Agricultural residue. This roundtable gathers together geographers and anthropologists who study the dynamic meshworks of unruly forms of life to ask how we disentangle our ecologies of concern. After all, practices may be local, but they are never just local. They are also together. But how do we study this togetherness? Many existing methodological toolkits strive for coherence. Yet, working in messy sites and crossing disciplinary, conceptual, and methodological lines, we know that coherence is often forceful and never neutral.

In this interactive roundtable we try to imagine alternatives to coherent togetherness. We hold that this is particularly important in technoscientific worlds haunted by histories of colonial domination. In our search for "other means" to experiment with the overflowing boundaries of separation and connection we ask: What post-capitalist, decolonial strategies can help us attend to what is both elsewhere and here when researching 'the global' and 'the local'? What techniques do we draw upon for theorizing containment and cutting without reproducing the ontological violence of a one-world world? How do we trace across and through multiple worlds without presuming we know which one is 'most real'? How, in short, can we work with substances and organisms that exceed 'the system,' while still retaining the ecological entanglements that nurture us? The audience-inclusive conversation will address which tools are failing us and what we might build in their place. This is an experiment in developing non-systemic togetherness.