How and when do global crises become locally meaningful and politically consequential? These questions have long motivated anthropologists to rethink the process and products of ethnography to better address the violence (Thomas 2011), frictions (Tsing 2005), and expectations (Ferguson 1999) of capitalist ‘modernity’ and post/coloniality across scales (Appel 2019, Gupta and Ferguson 1992, Trouillot 2003). Such re-envisioning of the relationship between global and local has created new opportunities for understanding the daily effects of processes that are otherwise abstracted from experiential lifeworlds. In this roundtable, we build on such path-making research to explore a methodological question emerging from recent fieldwork: How can we theorize processes of environmental change that are primarily experienced and narrated as regional, rather than as global or local? Scholars have been exploring how dynamics of environmental change work ‘on the ground’ through studies of broadly ‘ecological’ relationships that enroll and order objects, persons, and spaces across time. Studies have investigated tea production (Besky 2013), wetland restoration (Cattelino 2015), and waste management (Zhang 2020), among other issues. At the same time, environmental anthropologists have developed a nuanced understanding of ‘region’ that is relational and processual, as well as ecological (Sivaramakrishnan and Agrawal 2003). Drawing these strands of research together, we argue that tracing processes contributing to climate change often means capturing a regional scale of action and imagination. This roundtable brings together a range of anthropologists investigating climate crisis on a regional scale. In conversation, we explore what a regional approach can offer that analyses of the global or the local do not. We use relationships - often configured and mediated through objects and materialities - to define regions in practice. The goal is to elaborate an approach to climate change that takes the region as an essential site and analytical frame, as well as a stage for new forms of political critique and social mobilization. Appel, Hannah. 2019. The Licit Life of Capitalism : US Oil in Equatorial Guinea. Duke University Press. Besky, Sarah. 2013. The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Cattelino, Jessica R. 2015. “The Cultural Politics of Water in the Everglades and Beyond (The 2015 Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture). HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. 5(3): 235-250. 10.14318/hau5.3.013 Ferguson, James. Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of URban Life on the Zambian Copper Belt. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Gupta, Akhil, and Ferguson, James. 1992. Beyond “Culture”: Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference. Cultural Anthropology 7(1): 6-23. Sivaramakrishnan, K., and Agrawal, Arun, eds. 2003. Regional Modernities: The Cultural Politics of Development in India. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Thomas, Deborah A. 2011. Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. 2003. Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Tsing, Anna L. 2005. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Zhang, Amy. 2020. Circularity and Enclosures: Metabolising Waste with the Black Soldier Fly. Cultural Anthropology 35(1): 74•103.
Next from AAA Annual Meeting 2021
Native Americans and Museums: International Perspectives and Collaborative Prospects.
AAA Annual Meeting 2021
18 November 2021