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P012


(In)formalising environmental compliance and conservation 
Convenors:
Chakad Ojani (Jagiellonian University)
Julia Perczel (University of Manchester)
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Discussant:
Knut G Nustad (University of Oslo)
Format:
Panel
Sessions:
Tuesday 26 October, 15:00-16:30

Short Abstract:

Arguments about informality and formalisation as a moral imperative are frequently invoked in the context of environmental compliance and conservation. How do these create insecurities and precarity associated with livelihoods, land use, and employment patterns?

Long Abstract

Arguments about informality and formalisation as a moral imperative are now being invoked widely in a variety of settings—including the enforcement of various forms of environmental compliance and conservation. The formal-informal duality since its inception has been used to analyse labour relations, economic rationale, taxation, and land regulations. While some argue for the complete abandonment of informality as an analytical tool, its continuing use and proliferation across the world calls for renewed ethnographic attention. As discourses on (in)formality fold into the context of conservation and environmental responsibility, claims to righteousness, afforded by that idiom, might potentially be propelling forms of exclusion and dispossession that are not immediately obvious. Imperatives of formalisation in the service of the environment may create insecurities and precarity associated with livelihoods, land use, and employment patterns.

We invite contributions that explore how discourses on formality and informality are encountered ethnographically in the context of environmental sustainability and conservation. How do efforts to enforce certain forms of action become enmeshed with the idiom of (in)formality? What new patterns and relations of formality and formalisation are brought about when streamlining social action and centring one particular ethic within the language of (in)formality? Unmoored from the academic context, what aesthetics, signs and signifiers of informality and formality become meaningful in the context of conservation and environmental sustainability? How do legal frameworks, institutions and organisations tasked with saving the planet afford new opportunities for diverse actors to assume formality?

Accepted papers: