Threats on biodiversity: species extinction and sentinel technologies

Vanessa Manceron (CNRS)
Frédéric Keck (Musée du quai Branly)
R09 (in V)
Start time:
11 July, 2012 at 11:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Papers will cover the technologies for counting, predicting and raising alert that circulate between actors in charge of the protection of biodiversity. We encourage the study of scientific controversies and technical devices that circumvent environmental uncertainty at global and local levels.

Long abstract:

Since biodiversity became a global imperative (at the Rio Conference in 1992), many actors are involved in couting species and raising alert on their risk of extinction. If the global stake is in itself consensual, the making of these inventories destined to guide public action and build predictive models triggers debates and controversies at different scales : international organisations for conservation, national administrations in charge of environmental protection, local associations of nature observers…The assessment and reduction of risks, in the worrying horizon of climate change, are inscribed in the long temporality of scientific probability and the short termporality of political and civic action. The question of measuring is at the heart of a subtle game between the known and the unknown, the expected and the unexpected, putting at grips different forms of knowledges and science productors. Norms circulate which aim at standardizing modes of inventory and cartography, and perceptual technologies to raise alert. New figures of the sentinel appear, that should be analysed as formes of management of uncertainty : the model of the canary in the mine, often invoked by naturalist whistleblowers, is transformed when new species and new threats are at stake. This workshop will gather ethnographic contributions that take alert on biodiversity as an entry point in the study of forms of management but also social construction of uncertainty, in a context where different formes of knowledge are used to assess and control the new relations emerging between humans and non-humans at local and global scales.