Accepted Paper:

Emergent Wetland Wild: Water Buffaloes, Feral Horses, And Waterbirds In The Making And Unmaking Of Wetlands' Livable Nature  

Author:

Caterina Scaramelli (Amherst College)

Paper short abstract:

In contemporary Turkey, projects of wetland conservation, mark environments already shaped by layered production regimes: of crops, markets, infrastructures, and nationalism. In this paper, I examine how such projects also implicate shifting lives of animals.

Paper long abstract:

Concurrently with large-scale drainage and reclamation projects, wetlands have emerged as threatened ecologies of value — incorporating concerns ranging from waterbirds habitat, biodiversity, ecosystem services, to climate change, water security and, most recently, human cultures. In contemporary Turkey, projects of wetland conservation, by the state, universities, and NGOs, mark environments already shaped by layered production regimes: of crops, markets, infrastructures, and nationalism. In this paper, I examine how such projects also implicate the lives of animals. Anthropologists of science and the environment and environmental historians have shown that categories of wildlife are always in the making. In contemporary Turkey, scholars have recently tracked the emerging salience of the ecological in cultural life, entangled with political claims to livelihood rights. The cultural creation of conservation wetlands enacts narratives deliberating over who has the right to live and work in the wetland. I analyze how wetland species come to matter in the contemporary work of conservationists, educators, and state officials in two delta wetlands. "Stakeholders" assign shifting statuses to non-human animals — wild, feral, domestic, native, invasive, endemic, charismatic, elusive. At stake are also shifting enactments of place, not all of which affect each animal species in the same way. It is because of the rapid environmental and agroeconomic changes in the deltas — the expansion of rice fields, the disappearance of the forest, changes in agricultural subsidies — that animal populations become seemingly out of place, and that their relationship to the environments is open for questioning in the first place.

Panel T126
Science and Technology in the Middle East: Life Sciences and Environments