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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/xrb9-7535


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Collaborative Ecologies: Anthropologies of (and for) Survival in the More-Than-Human City


environmental justice

collaborative research


Amid an escalating planetary breakdown, anthropologists are increasingly concerned with what Tsing calls “collaborative survival,” the cooperative, life-sustaining work that sometimes emerges across social, cultural, and biological divides during times of upheaval (2015, 29). Now home to a majority of human earthlings, cities both exceed and engender our capacity for this work. As a result, ethnographic research in urban environments increasingly requires immersion in the everyday challenges of making life liveable on a planet in crisis. Many urban anthropologists feel called not only to understand these challenges but also to participate in the work of addressing them. This roundtable on Collaborative Ecologies will interrogate the theoretical, methodological, and ethical potentials of engaged, “more-than-research” approaches to urban environmental anthropology (Theriault et al., ip). Today’s cities teem with multiple forms of life, intermingling with ever more complex infrastructural grids, transport systems, and media. These complex assemblages engender diverse coalitions of workers, feminist organizations, and Indigenous and/or racialized peoples, who find common purpose in the defense of their lives and environments (Reese, 2018). Cities have also become sites for an array of feminist, antiracist, and decolonial approaches to collaborative ethnography (Isoke, 2014). Such work, however, mostly engages the human consequences of social and political inequality, often omitting the ecological dimensions of structural violence. This roundtable will bring together critical ethnographers who are currently involved in collaborative research with environmental justice coalitions in cities around the world. Following Di Chiro’s writing on “living environmentalisms,” we define environmental justice as encompassing any activity or movement that “articulates people’s concerns about their families’ and communities’ access to social reproduction” (2008, 294; see also Hoover, 2017). Roundtable participants will learn from one another about: (1) how urban environmental justice coalitions form and take creative or experimental action in defense of social reproduction; (2) how collaborative research with these coalitions informs theories of social change and urban design; and (3) what such research collaborations reveal about the capacities and shortcomings of ethnographic and related methods. By centering the work of ethnographers who actively collaborate with nonacademic practitioners, from designers to ecologists to agronomists, on matters of pollution, mobility, food access, sanitation, ecological health, and more, we aim to inspire a more responsive, cohesive, and inclusive urban environmental anthropology, one that advances knowledge of urban life while contributing to the design of more liveable cities. Di Chiro, Giovanna. "Living Environmentalisms: Coalition Politics, Social Reproduction, and Environmental Justice." Environmental Politics 17, 2 (2008): 276-98. Hoover, Elizabeth. The River Is in Us. University of Minnesota Press, 2017. Isoke, Zenzele. "Can't I Be Seen? Can't I Be Heard? Black Women Queering Politics in Newark." Gender, Place & Culture 21, 3 (2014): 353-69. Reese, Ashanté M. Black Food Geographies. University of North Carolina Press, 2019. Theriault, Noah, Tim Leduc, Audra Mitchell, June M. Rubis, and Norma Jacobs Gaehowako. "Living Protocols: Remaking Worlds in the Face of Extinction." Social & Cultural Geography (in press). Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. The Mushroom at the End of the World. Princeton University Press, 2015.


Transcript English (automatic)

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