Accepted paper:

Territories of Capture: Climate and Predation in Bangladesh's Sundarbans


Jason Cons (University of Texas)

Paper short abstract:

This paper proposes "capture" as an analytic to explore piracy and climate change in Bangladesh's Sundarbans. In doing so, it traces the territories and ecologies that emerge not just as consequences of climate change, but in and through policies seeking to forestall its effects.

Paper long abstract:

What is the relationship between climate change and human predation? And how have new governmental, nongovernmental, and paragovernmental policies seeking to address global warming produced new geographies in places imagined as "climate ground zeros"? Over the past decade, the Sundarbans—the world's largest remaining mangrove forest—has become central to debates about and policy responses to global warming. Concomitantly, those who work within the mangroves have reported a dramatic increase in piracy and kidnapping. This paper explores this phenomena, mapping the territorial reconfigurations that climate change has heralded in the Sundarbans and the ecologies of capture that have concomitantly emerged within and around the mangroves. The paper proposes capture as an analytic to demonstrate the articulations between piracy and other attempts to control rents, resources, and territory. Building on debates in the anthropology of the state, engagements with the more-than-human production of territory, and explorations of predation and "manhunting," the paper suggests a rethinking of the outcomes of policy and programming interventions in ecologically sensitive and globally over-represented spaces such as the Sundarbans. Seen through the lens of capture, the Sundarbans highlights the ways that the global rush to secure climate hot spots against futures of degradation and displacement produce new, surprising, and unintended configuration of expropriation and exploitation in the present.

panel B02
Geographies and anthropologies of the state: places, persons and nonhumans