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technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Grounded Frictions: Land re(mediation) and (re)production

keywords:

land

environmental justice

violence

Multinational corporations and states are driving a process of commodifying and categorizing land. At the same time, the material and social realities of landscapes resist this cooptation. Our panel explores the frictions between different visions and values of land. This panel focuses on the technocrats and bureaucrats who mediate environmental and legal frictions over land. We draw on a range of sources • Indigenous land rights cases, forestry concessions, land remediation plans, and urban planning agendas • to explore how these mediators (re)produce the meaning of land. We also explore why frictions remain despite these policies and procedures. Environmental remediation planners use predictive models, but the realities of ruined landscapes escape those carefully crafted plans. Legal mediators attempt to demarcate Indigenous lands from extractive concessions, but those boundaries inevitably overlap. City planners designate “illegal” vs” legal” urban settlements, but the people who live in those settlements resist those designations. We look at how material realities and local actors disrupt the commodification and categorization of land. We draw on historical archives and ethnography to explore how technology, planning, and law mediate these frictions. What are the roles of local power structures, the state, and multinational corporations in determining land’s use and value? What are emerging counter-narratives? How do these narratives develop and become inscribed on the land itself? Ultimately, we ask what these histories and contemporary realities tell us about the persistence of frictions over land and how those frictions will define land in the future.

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