(A13)
Of other landscapes
Location Bowland North Seminar Room 6
Date and Start Time 28 Jul, 2018 at 09:30
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Endre Danyi (Goethe University Frankfurt) email
  • Michaela Spencer (Charles Darwin University) email

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Short abstract

We invite contributions that engage with situations where worlds meet, including worlds configured within differing practices of Indigenous and Western knowledge traditions, practices of governance and democracy, and other means of knowing and relating people and place.

Long abstract

Where do worlds meet, and how? What count as good or bad meetings of worlds? And what are the implications of such meetings for analysis and politics? In this panel, we address these questions by focusing on 'landscapes' as both the objects of and the conditions for the meeting of worlds (ontologies, cosmologies, normativities). Although a 19th century variant of the term carries its own agenda (including aesthetic coherence, an outsider gaze, and a romantic fascination with the sublime), in the early 21st century it seems possible - and indeed necessary - to talk 'of other landscapes': heterotopic formations that point beyond environmentalism or urban fantasies of recreation, and accommodate meetings without presuming the settings in which they occur. The title of the panel is an indirect reference to Michel Foucault, who in his essay 'Of Other Spaces' defined heterotopias as places where different, seemingly incommensurable logics or orderings encounter each other. Though he argued that heterotopias are ubiquitous, his examples - cemeteries, zoological gardens, vacation villages - typically came from the (European) West. Our aim is to push this line of inquiry further and empirically explore moments and locations where different, seemingly incommensurable worlds encounter each other. We therefore invite contributions that engage with situations where worlds meet, including worlds configured within differing practices of Indigenous and Western knowledge traditions, practices of governance and democracy, and other means of knowing and relating people and place.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Cosmopolicy-in-practice

Authors: Endre Danyi (Goethe University Frankfurt) email
Michaela Spencer (Charles Darwin University) email
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Short abstract

We tell a story of the collaborative development of evaluation processes supporting government engagement in remote Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. Accounting for these dual and situated evaluation practices involves an analytic shift to an engagement with cosmopolicy-in-practice.

Long abstract

A turn to practices has become a popular analytical move in policy studies. Many scholars have pointed out that policy-making and implementation need to be studied as interrelated practices that participate in the making of _the world_ (Freeman and Sturdy 2015, Gill et al. 2017, Ureta 2015). However, there has been less discussion about policy contexts where different worlds (cosmologies, ontologies, normativities) meet. In this paper we tell such a story based on our ongoing fieldwork in an Indigenous community in Australia. More specifically, we tell a story of the collaborative development of evaluation processes supporting government engagement in remote Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. Located within community meetings where government and Aboriginal community members interact, these evaluation processes were designed both as interventions into business-as-usual, and as means for providing feedback on moments where differing governance practices intersect. We argue that accounting for these dual and situated evaluation practices involves an analytic shift to an engagement with cosmopolicy-in-practice.

Landscape and heterotopia in New Zealand: conflict over oil and gas development

Authors: Bill Doolin (Auckland University of Technology) email
Brian Bloomfield (Lancaster University) email
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Short abstract

This paper explores the conflict over oil and gas development of a local landscape in which the Cartesian spatiality of Western environmental governance encounters the cultural landscape of indigenous Māori in New Zealand.

Long abstract

In this paper, we examine an encounter between Western practices of environmental governance and an indigenous way of knowing and relating people and place. The context for our study is drilling for oil and gas in the Taranaki region of New Zealand. For some local Māori, tangata whenua with an ancestral relationship to the land and environment, the promulgation of oil and gas exploration and extraction in the Taranaki countryside raises concerns, particularly when it threatens the integrity of wāhi tapu - long-term sacred places such as burial grounds or battle sites. Through a critical reading of a corpus of publicly available texts, we analyse the controversial development of a well site and pipeline in a north Taranaki valley. The opposition of the local hapū (kinship group) to this development highlights the apparent incommensurability of the indigenous 'cultural landscape' (Bollig and Schulte, 1999) and the 'Cartesian spatiality' (Kotsakis, 2011) underlying Western understandings of landscape and environmental law. To be admitted as material in the ensuing regulatory and judicial considerations, local Māori cultural values and oral history related to a pā (fort) and ancestral burial in the valley were required to be empirical, quantifiable and spatially defined - literally 'fixed on a map' (Kotsakis, 2011). Thus, within the context of this development, the valley served as a heterotopic site, in which alternative processes of socio-spatial ordering were juxtaposed and 'tried out' (Hetherington, 1997).

Can the STS scholar speak? Or what are the conditions necessary for telling stories in academia?

Author: Natalie Gill email
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Short abstract

This paper considers the question posed by the title in two context: writing about political events in South Africa, and writing as an independent academic. Thinking these contexts together will help to open up the ways in which worlds do politics and say something about what's at stake.

Long abstract

In this paper I consider the question posed by the title in two contexts.

The first context is one that draws on events that occurred in Cape Town between 2014-2017. They include the use of excrement from the townships and the use of toyi-toyi - a protest dance - as forms of doing politics. As an STS scholar, I found it interesting to think about the materiality of these political acts. However, these events brought with them their own conditions for political engagement, calling for a shift in the landscape through decolonisation. As a white privileged woman, this makes me feel troubled by the act of speaking and writing about these events. 

The second context that I consider refers to academic meetings like the upcoming EASST conference, but also to pieces of academic writing. These are some of the events and material practices that configure us as academics. And yet meetings imply politics. Who is in, who is out, who can speak, and on behalf of whom - these are political questions. Moreover, as recent events in SA illustrate, the answers to these questions are always materially constituted. As an independent academic I find myself in a situation where speaking as a western white privileged woman is increasingly made difficult. 

It is to this double bind that I speak in this paper. I hope that thinking these contexts together will help to open up the ways in which worlds do politics and say something about what's at stake.

Beach encounters: narrating the refugee crisis and its material traces

Authors: Amade M'charek (University of Amsterdam) email
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Short abstract

Following the trail of worn out shoes and slippers, clothing and life vests, rubber and wood, our paths crossed, right there on the beach. In our contribution, inspired by Anna Tsing, we want to narrate the "world-making" capacity of movements, and attend to tragic material traces of meeting.

Long abstract

As I started to follow the traces of bodies that in recent years went missing in the Mediterranean Sea, I had to move away from Europe, its soil, politics and ways of knowing the dead. This movement was not necessarily with forward facing eyes. There were twists, switching of courses, fast-forwards as well as occasional meanderings. Eventually I arrived at the beaches of Zarzis, a town in the south of Tunisia. And there was Mohsen.

Following the trail of worn out shoes and slippers, clothing and life vests, rubber and wood, our paths crossed, right there.

Mohsin, a retired postman, was drawn to the sea in a radical move away from his everyday modes of being and doing. He was then 40 years old, and had started to walk the beach and collect traces of movements. Initially his artwork grew to become what he calls an "ecological action movement", but confronted with dead bodies already in the early nineties, he had started to collect the traces of migrants that did not make it to Europe.

So here are different paths that come together on the beaches of Tunisia. One could even claim that Europe and Africa meet, not in the Mediterranean Sea, but on such beaches. In our contribution, inspired by Anna Tsing (2000), we want to narrate the "world-making" capacity of movements, speculate the "channels they recarve", and remap the possible geographies they bring about.

Views from the edge: prototyping rapid ethnographic methods in Madeira

Authors: Justin Pickard (University of Sussex) email
Michelle Kasprzak (Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute) email
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Short abstract

This paper presents research findings and reflections from a 10-day experimental ethnography conducted in and around Funchal, capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira, and the nearby coastal town of Câmara de Lobos.

Long abstract

This paper presents research findings and reflections from a 10-day experimental ethnography conducted in and around Funchal, Madeira's capital, and the coastal town of Câmara de Lobos, outlining and advocating for a set of methods particularly well-suited to the study of those sites and situations where worlds meet. Reflecting on some of the particular challenges of short-term (Pink and Morgan, 2013) and collaborative ethnography, we share some of the techniques we used to quickly explore the interplay of digital systems, imagined futures, and framings and practices of inclusion here, on an island at the periphery of Europe. As a small, experimental project running alongside, on the one hand, an 'immersive' documentary film shoot and, on the other, a longer phase of practice-led research on art and social innovation, and with a team and partners of different backgrounds, capabilities, and levels of engagement, we use vignettes to demonstrate tactics that can be used to identify and orchestrate spaces of encounter.

We come to sublime electric worlds

Author: Laura Watts (University of Edinburgh) email
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Short abstract

Sunset over an island sea,

a tide energy turbine

comes out of eclipse

and the world changes

for me, for many.

That world is in the spaces

between words.

The encounter, empirical,

infrastructured, electric,

sublime,

is silent under the skin.

How to write this silence

as empirical method?

Long abstract

WE COME TO ORKNEY DAVE

I remember rain swirling in the air as I stared at the battered old fishing shed, spray-painted with those iconic letters, accented for a moment by the sweep of a rainbow overhead. The graffiti met everyone who stepped off the ferry onto the islands where I had been studying the energy future. I knew something profound about my ethnographic fieldsite in that moment, but what did I know? It was the same when I stood and watched a tide energy turbine come out of eclipse, high up on a gantry above a sunlit sea, its sign glowing with

OPEN HYDRO

TIDAL TURBINE

Beside me, marine scientists had also watched, and hundreds of industry visitors have since followed, drawn, not just to see, but to feel an energy future. How to write empirically about this encounter between place and person, when the world changes? In these moments naturalcultural, energetic landscape is not 'out there' but gets under the skin and makes the blood beat. This presentation will explore STS methods for writing encounters with infrastructured landscapes. It will move from anthropologist Susan Lepselter's reminder that uncanny stories have an irreducible openness, akin to reading poetry, to a poetic attention to both letters and the space between them. Might we write our worlds as much in space, shape, and absence, as in letters, and come to make a method for writing the uncanny, and the sublime, unspeakable moments that make our electric worlds.

Reading examinations on Tibetan maps 1886: cartographic practices and the displacement of ontological world in modernity

Author: Su Hu email
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Short abstract

The encounter between the geographic knowledge in imperial China and Western science is more than a transformation towards more rigor or more precision. The encounter underlies a shift between different ontological worlds.

Long abstract

The hybridization of modern geographic signs and traditional visual forms in China dates back to the seventeenth century. Visual forms in an 1886 Chinese geographic publication, Examinations on Tibetan Maps, could be read as continuous with traditional surveying practices, hybridizing different elements and visual forms, or juxtaposing different maps. The modern and the traditional visual forms hold differences, which could be reduced to degrees of precision. But the images could also be scanned as ruptures. The transition into modern geography is not merely approaching to more rigor or more precision, but concerning the displacement of ontological world. The paper investigates Examinations on Tibetan Maps, identifying mismatches, rather than continuities, between traditional and modern visual forms. Different cartographic images elected different data to account for geographic facts, legitimized different surveying methods, and ultimately produced different ontological worlds.

Memory and the cityscape. Assemblage thinking in memories about the AIDS epidemic in New York City.

Author: Christopher Zraunig (University of Amsterdam) email
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Short abstract

The cityscape is a crucial element of memories, when these are conceptualized as more or other than representational of the past, but instead as assemblages consisting of material and immaterial components. Such an approach also elicits the multiple temporalities of supposedly passed events.

Long abstract

For long, memory has been conceptualized as representational of the past. I complicate such conceptualizations by focusing on the materiality of the cityscape as being a crucial element of memories. I conducted four months of fieldwork, including participant observations, in-depth interviews and walk-alongs for my research on the contemporary affective states of self-identifying gay men who lived through the height of the AIDS epidemic in New York City (before the introduction of highly active antiretroviral treatment in 1996). My results show that taking into account the materiality and spatiality of memories transcends chronological compartments of past, present, and future as memories about the AIDS crisis are made present in the relations of the cityscape, practices, and biographies: people not only are often involuntarily overwhelmed when unexpectedly passing houses in which friends had died of AIDS, but they also actively change the way they navigate the city. These relations, thus, inform the contemporary affective states of my informants, which also illustrates the temporal transcendence and entanglement of people's present experiences with the cityscape and their biographies. Reflecting on my results, I draw on Deleuze & Guattari and propose an assemblage approach to memory, in which I conceptualize memories as something else than mere representations of the past, but as assemblages consisting of material and immaterial components that affect people's experiences today. This enables us to understand the multitemporality of a supposedly "passed" event (the AIDS epidemic) and to better comprehend how people's present-day affective states are co-constituted by the cityscape.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.