Monday 29 March, 16:00 – 17:30
This session addresses the political potentials of digital space for environmentalism in the Anthropocene.
Discussant: Dr Mathilda Rosengren, Malmö University Institute for Urban Research
Anna Guasco, University of Cambridge:
Anna Guasco is a Geography PhD candidate and Gates Cambridge Scholar at Cambridge University. Her doctoral research analyses histories, storytelling, and justice issues surrounding grey whale migration and conservation along the North American Pacific coast. Broadly, her research interests include more-than-human geographies, environmental justice, environmental history, and political ecology.
Christopher Reimer, University of British Columbia:
How does an exotic pet commonly known as a ‘gentle companion’ become a ‘nasty’ and killable invasive species? Burmese Pythons in the Florida Everglades face a violent program of eradication in the name of conservation, thriving as elusive pet trade fugitives while their kin in Southeast Asia face habitat destruction and endangerment. This paper examines the varied technoscientific approaches to manage a reptile labelled as a gentle pet, protected species, or invasive pest depending on the geographic context. I turn to the wetlands of southern Florida to illuminate the bio and necropolitical apparatus of conservation’s emerging public-private and digital-ecological entanglements when targeting the latter label. I examine three programs: the injection of radio transmitters and application of re-gendering lotions to produce trans-cyborg ‘Judas snakes’, the Super Bowl sponsored python killing competition and its spin-offs, and the new LIDAR drone program involving the first approved exception to a drone prohibition law for police and state agencies. Using critical animal studies, I argue that the case of the Burmese Python, in particular the recent approval of non-military state drone use to track and kill them, is precedent setting for all bodies and beings labeled out of place. I bring parallel cases of policing exotic-turned-criminal human bodies into conversation with my analysis of the state’s pursuit of a pure and python-free Everglades ecosystem. I draw from work on carceral technoscience and immuno-biopolitics to question the ethics of python culling, the methods used, and the various liberatory visions for living within spaces deemed contaminated.
Chris is a political ecologist and Ph.D. student within the UBC Department of Geography. His research focuses on critical liberation ecologies and justice-oriented praxis. Prior to UBC, Chris worked as an international development practitioner and supported participatory action research programs in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Chris is originally from Kansas and uses he/him/his pronouns.
Christian Keeve, University of Kentucky:
Seedkeeping, the material basis for the continuity of food movements, has produced intersectional and interdisciplinary ecological politics. Seeds, particularly open-pollinated, heirloom, or historic varieties are being increasingly turned toward for political projects around locally and regionally sustainable food systems, but also individual practices of ecological and historical meaning-making through reconnections with ancestral food. Although seedkeeping and plant breeding projects, from agricultural institutions to homegardens, consist of engagements with and shifts among hyperlocal ecologies, I explore the ways in which contemporary seed cultures and their political-ecological possibilities are a uniquely digital phenomenon. This paper seeks to address the co-production of digital and material nonhuman lives through practices of in situ agrobiodiversity conversation, or the periodic saving and growing out of open-pollinated crop varieties. I ground this in an analysis of the company Truelove Seeds and a plant breeding startup, SeedLinked, investigating their web presences with the discourse that they generate in the digital spaces of social media, particularly Instagram posts and hashtags. I bolster this with a digital archival study of a selection of culturally significant crop varieties, comparing their digital lives with digitized archival catalogs in the USDA Special Collections. I hope to demonstrate the ways in which the intimate ecologies of seed and garden cultures are produced by and mediated through digital space. This puts the human into digital-ecological encounter with the more-than-human, as well as with ancestral and cultural histories. It also raises questions about the impact of the digital on the physical landscapes of agrobiodiversity and in situ conservation projects.
Christian Keeve, nap enthusiast and fashion distraction, is a PhD student in Geography at the University of Kentucky. Lately they’ve been doing some thinking about living and lively archives, intimate ecologies, participatory seed work, and radical eco-futurisms. They just like to read comics and grow things
George Iordachescu, University of Sheffield:
This paper will explore and theorize how virgin forests were turned into digital socio-political technologies for addressing environmental crises in eastern Europe. Untouched, vulnerable and scarce – digital virgin forests represent more than just drone images circulating on social media or screened by activists to policymakers in Brussels. From Slovakia to Romania, the general public has been lured into the environmental campaigns over the last five years by multi-sensorial experiences involving 3D tours, VR technologies, a variety of sounds and hybrid cultural productions. From their homes’ comfort, nature lovers could get immersed in iconic virgin forests of various Carpathian regions and find out details about fungi and dead wood while listening to bird songs or mixing pre-recorded nature sounds. In many eastern European countries, smartphone apps offer a virtual environment where users feel empowered and in charge of monitoring and reporting illegal logging cases. By far the most popular web 2.0 app, the Forest Guardians offers citizens the possibility to save these forests, for free, at home or during lunch breaks. Once logged in, users participate in ‘investigations’ comparing satellite images from different periods, report disturbances, confirm or dismiss other users’ reports, upload pictures of logged areas or discuss legal issues on the forum. Charismatic ecosystems and an object of desire in several EU strategies for meeting climate and biodiversity targets, virgin forests are increasingly produced as an imagined ecology whose materiality remains unquestioned. This contribution will examine forms of encounter and engagement with digital virgin forests and critically assess their role in conservation.
George Iordachescu is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield. He was part of the BIOSEC Project where he researched illegal logging and security approaches to forest crime. His current research project investigates illegal wildlife trade in European species, combining political ecology and green criminology approaches.
Roboto Regular Font Entry (Not displayed, do not remove)
Roboto Regular Italic Font Entry (Not displayed, do not remove)
Roboto Bold Font Entry (Not displayed, do not remove)
Roboto Bold Italic Font Entry (Not displayed, do not remove)
Arbutus Font Entry (Not displayed, do not remove)