Tag: environmental anthropology

System, Space and Ecobiopolitics: A Conversation with Valerie Olson About “Into the Extreme”

  [This week we present excerpts of an interview with Valerie Olson conducted by Lisa Messeri focused on Olson’s new book, Into the Extreme (U Minnesota P, 2018). Valerie Olson is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California – Irvine whose work focuses on the anthropology of environmental systems, technologies and extremes.  Lisa Messeri is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Yale University focused on the role of place and place-making in scientific work and the author of Placing Outer Space (Duke UP, 2016). The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.] Lisa: Into the Extreme is an ethnography of human space flight based on fieldwork at NASA Johnson Space Center most prominently, but then also other space sites throughout the United States. What I think is most significant about this book is that it activates “system” as an ethnographic object. Valerie Olson, the author (read more...)

Politics in environmental research infrastructure formation: When top-down policy-making meets bottom-up fragmentation

By: Elena Parmiggiani, Helena Karasti, Karen Baker, and Andrea Botero The environmental sciences have been a fertile ground for the development of scientific infrastructures (a.k.a. cyberinfrastructure in the USA and research infrastructure in Europe). Their promises of addressing grand challenges such as climate change require increasing collaboration as well as new forms of research based on data sharing. However, infrastructure policy work in this domain has proven arduous. The environmental sciences are intrinsically heterogeneous with variations in data that must be navigated across local and global scales, ecological variety, societal concerns, and funding structures. (read more...)

Parrotfish: The Charisma of Conservation in the Caribbean

During the week of Easter, the beaches of the Dominican Republic were converted into billboards for the campaign to stop the consumption of parrotfish. Pictures taken from drones showed brilliant blues of the ocean bordered by the characteristic white sands of beaches throughout the country. Spelled out on the sand were calls for help. The messages, “Save me, don’t eat parrotfish,” “If you eat parrotfish, I disappear,” “If you eat parrotfish, you eat away my sand,” and “SOS: parrotfish,” were each followed by the hashtag #lasplayashablan: the beaches speak. (read more...)

Remediation: The Cultural Politics of Oil and Brine Spills in the Bakken

Around Tioga, a small town in northwestern North Dakota, huge tractors, seeders, and sprayers lumber along the shoulders of the highways in spring. In midsummer, sunflowers turn yellow; tractor and skid-steer mowers turn fragrant alfalfa fields into cattle forage. Since 1951, hydrocarbon production has been an equally visible and valued part of the landscape around Tioga. Horse-head pumpjacks and tank batteries are everywhere. Heavy-duty pickups and guys (most oilfield workers are male) wearing gas-detection meters clipped to fire-resistant shirts are fixtures in Tioga. Huge tanker trucks are ever-present at the larger of Tioga’s two gas stations, owned by a farmers’ cooperative. Many people living in town and on surrounding farms own mineral rights which, like farmland, have passed through families since the homestead era. Those mineral acres can bring families small checks that subsidize their wages or millions that let farmers pay cash for six-figure farm equipment, or purchase better seeds, fertilizer, or crop insurance. Oil also brought well-recognized challenges to farming, from competing land and water use regimes to the threat of spills. (read more...)