Ethics and Affects of Environmental Government
From the reverence that a geologist feels for the nature she encounters in her fieldwork, to conservation project designers’ aspirations to stewardship over national biodiversity, environmental institutions tend to be affectively and ethically complex sites. This panel seeks to understand the ethical commitments, normative imperatives and affective charges that nourish or trouble the work of scientists, managers, consultants and others working in institutions tasked with knowing and managing the environment. The ethnography of ethics and affect in environmental institutions might examine direct confrontations between full-blown ethical philosophies; crises in which habits of body or thought become problematized; moments of particular hope for specific projects or practices; or atmospheres of anxiety or malaise that facilitate a diagnosis of subjectification in the context of biological research or natural resource management. While the environment will probably figure as a preoccupation in any of these ethnographic contexts, it is likely to exist amidst a constellation of other commitments or concerns (e.g. science, nation, democracy, race). Work showing how affect, normativity and ethics are interrelated in environmental institutions is especially welcome, and may contend with the interplay between the affective tinges that adhere to specific scientific, technical or managerial practices; the regulations and prescriptions of techno-scientific disciplines; institutional norms; and more readily identifiable and articulable ethical positions.
The goal of the panel is neither to morally recuperate scientists and managers, nor is it to put the sincerity or sufficiency of their beliefs on trial. The purpose is rather to foster an anthropological understanding of the sources and effects of ethical and normative subject formation in the context of those institutions charged with knowing, regulating or reconfiguring the environment. The panel hopes to present a diverse range of ethnographic contexts and approaches. Topics that might be treated include:
-Programs for environmental education or responsibilization
-The ethical and affective complexities of conservation interventions in local livelihoods
-The emergence of biodiversity or particular species as sources of national or local pride
-Contrastive framings of environmental issues and commitments in North-South collaborations
-The ethical stakes of specific technical or scientific practices for knowing and managing the environment
-The historical development and consequences of normative institutional cultures
-The impacts of institutional activities on affective relationships to particular landscapes or environments
-How similar ethical commitments can lead to divergent scientific or managerial practices
Send 250 word abstracts to Peter Taber at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 6.