Ecosystem as concept, legacy, and (sustainable) futures

Roberta Raffaetà (Università Milano-Bicocca)
Valerie Olson (UC Irvine)
Start time:
20 July, 2016 at 14:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The system concept has an important but controversial legacy in anthropology, currently resurfacing with the "ecosystem" concept. This panel explores anthropological work with and about ecosystems. We invite contributions analyzing ecological systems, assemblages, or ecosystems.

Long abstract:

The system concept has an important but controversial legacy in anthropology. As contemporary ethnographies turn attention to the socialites and politics of large-scale environmental interconnections and their sustainability, the "ecosystem" concept has become a compelling system form to think with. Yet, it provokes anthropological suspicions of totalizing or normative concepts. This panel explores the presence of the ecosystem concept in anthropology. We invite contributions which use conceptualizations of ecological systems and assemblages or which focus on "ecosystems" as objects of study. Potential approaches: -Historical: Legacies of the system concept in anthropology, in its national and theoretical declinations. How this heritage applies today, especially in light of ecological considerations? How in this process has the concept of system taken on particular forms? -Ethnographic: Exploration of various fields (e.g, environmental, medical, biological…) in which the concept of ecosystem is used and applied. -Theoretical: How scientific and social scientific ecosystemic approaches integrates or clashes? How does the ecosystem concept align or differ from theories of relational connection (network, infrastructure, assemblage, meshwork, fluid ontologies…) currently employed in anthropological debates? Which overlaps? Which frictions and what can be learned? -Political: Political, ethical and moral import of the ecosystem concept and its deployments in social worlds. Which limitations and which advantages does it lay out? In light of which agendas? -Methodological: From which perspective, scale and temporality can we get to know ecosystemic connections, mindful of the situated histories and politics of the concept? Are distinctions between human and non-human, living and nonliving useful?

Accepted Papers: