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IUAES 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds. 5-10 August 2013.

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Evolving humanity, emerging worlds

Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013

(PE46)

Anthropology, philosophy, and political economy can address crises in globalization

Location Roscoe 1.009
Date and Start Time 06 Aug, 2013 at 09:00

Convenors

Edward Sankowski (University of Oklahoma) email
Betty Harris (University of Oklahoma) email
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Short Abstract

Anthropology through interdisciplinary collaboration can improve study and actions about economics and finance in an age of globalization in which existing disciplines and institutions are not meeting major challenges.

Long Abstract

"Political economy" may mean various types of activities. Among other possibilities, the phrase can signify an area mainly within anthropology, but open to interdisciplinary collaborations, as well as a "philosophical approach" (sometimes including but not limited to normative advocacy, or epistemological issues) about problems, even crises, concerning politics and economics. This panel explores the nature of and/or construction of political economy by discussing specific examples of research and interventions in the area (not restricted by geographical regions), and also by overall discussion of what some of the major dimensions are of the area. The panel should illuminate the question how political economy in the senses explored here can expand or supplement not only the study of economics but more broadly, humanity's anthropological understanding of itself. Among other tasks, this panel takes up the issue why globalization appears to have generated large problems, even repeated crises, which existing academically based disciplines such as economics and finance have not coped with adequately. Current failures in an array of academic disciplines as well as in non-academic institutional arrangements appear to be expanding opportunities for further development of "political economy" in a sense that anthropology can significantly help re-configure.The panel invites contributions from anthropologists open to interdisciplinary cooperation, without restrictions by methodology, authors consulted or critiqued, or by geographical regions investigated.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Where's the "fracking" activist anthropologist? The Marcellus Shale, Structural Violence, and the American Dream: An (auto)ethnography of a perfect storm of energy, environmental and economic crises

Author: Jennifer Randall (University East London)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper frames fracking as a constellation of three mutually reinforcing crises: environment, economic and energy. Structural violence frames the analysis and the methods of ethnography and intimate ethnography explore how the American Dream is achieved or becomes a nightmare in the context of a rural Pennsylvania town.

Long Abstract

The controversial method of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" for natural gas extraction is spreading across the planet. The US state of New York has adopted a moratorium on the process but the state of Pennsylvania has been a trailblazer in exploiting the vast natural reserves under its terra firma. "Shaleionaires" are featured in the media, films like Gasland, YouTube videos of flaming water taps, and celebrity and academic advocacy have brought incredible and passionate attention to both sides of the issue. Framed as a constellation of three mutually reinforcing crises: environment, economic and energy; this paper applies the framework of structural violence to understand a rural Pennsylvania town's experience with fracking in the Marcellus Shale. Interviews with residents illuminate complex personal histories of struggle, defeat and triumph. Narratives illustrate tense and dynamic relationships with government, corporations, and the environmental movement. This town is the site of a national disaster and therefore claims a great deal of national pride and recognition but is simultaneously experiencing economic decline in the closure of major manufacturing concerns. Unemployment rates are high and many are living in precarious times. The seemingly golden fountains of wealth in the form of natural gas wells make this an ideal space to explore the dynamic nature of fracking in 21st century America. How the American Dream is achieved (or becomes a nightmare) in this space provides lessons on the current state of American identity and experience. Applying the intimate ethnography technique the author will further explore her experience with decision making in regards to energy extraction.

Anthropology, global political economy crises, energy cultures: incorporating natural gas, shale, fracking

Author: Edward Sankowski (University of Oklahoma)  email
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Short Abstract

Anthropology can with interdisciplinary collaboration critically examine the conflicts for public policy about crises in energy and environmental issues. This includes policies about fracking for natural gas both in the US and worldwide concerning property rights, tourism, and the political economy of the environment.

Long Abstract

Anthropology can with interdisciplinary collaboration critically examine the conflicts for public policy about crises in energy and environmental issues. This includes but is not confined to policies about fracking for natural gas both in the US and worldwide. What has been called "fracking" (for purposes of this panel, specifically in reference to horizontal hydraulic fracturing in drilling for natural gas in shale), has become especially controversial in recent years. This is part of changes in energy cultures far beyond such fracking. The issues are in part technological, but even more so cultural issues, and constitute a crisis about political economy and the environment. Drinking water safety is one issue. In the US, fracking and energy cultures issues are part of presidential politics, and regulatory controversies at both the federal and state levels. Water for fracking is perceived by some to be in competition with water use for agriculture in some places, e.g., South Africa (where there has been a moratorium on fracking). There are also questions about the impact of the technology and concomitant "economic development" on local communities. There are concerns about property rights of landowners, the economic role of tourism (consider a moratorium on fracking in France), other businesses, and the international political economy of the environment. Anthropologists can contribute to policy processes connected with these crises.

Bottom-up institutional approaches in dealing with Energy Issues in the Veneto Region (EU)

Author: Valentina Bonifacio (University Ca Foscari of Venice; Parsons-The New School)  email
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Short Abstract

Over the last few years, the EU has created a number of tools aimed at promoting a change in energy production and consumption amongst its citizen. Local institutions and the civil society in the Veneto region (Italy) are working on how to appropriate these tools in order to change their “energy path”.

Long Abstract

In February 2012, an interdisciplinary research team sponsored by the IUAV University and composed by urban designers, engineers and one anthropologist has undertaken a research in the Veneto region (Italy). The aim of the research is to re-imagine the territory in order to match some of the objective of the EU Energy Roadmap 2050. My paper aims at exploring the information gaps, power relationships and energy-related discourses from which local actors think about energy and from which they are trying to appropriate the EU policies and opportunities.

"The Johannesburg-Taipei Air Crash: South Africa-Asia Trade and Immigration"

Author: Betty Harris (University of Oklahoma)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper analyzes South Africa-Asia economic relations through narration of episodes involving an air route with changing functions during the apartheid to post-apartheid transition, and coinciding with China's emergence as a global economic power.

Long Abstract

This paper analyzes South Africa-Asia economic relations through narration of episodes involving an air route with changing functions during the apartheid to post-apartheid transition, and coinciding with China's emergence as a global economic power.

South African Airways (SAA) Flight 295 crashed into the Indian Ocean before its scheduled stopover in Mauritius, en route to Johannesburg, on November 29, 1987. More than half its passengers were from Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, and there were no survivors. During this period, Taiwanese immigration and investment were at their height. It was suspected that the flight was carrying explosives that contravened international arms sanctions against South Africa. Despite two government inquiries, a cause was never substantiated. I will analyze documents on the passengers (biographies, obituaries, reports, blogs, etc.)and their families, their work in Asia and South Africa, and relevant trade and immigration patterns.

The Johannesburg-Taipei air route became a source of controversy again in 1996 when the Chinese government pressured the post-apartheid government to recognize Beijing. On the eve of Hong Kong's transfer to China, the Chinese government threatened to deny SAA landing rights in Hong Kong if it continued to fly to Taipei. The South African government decided to recognize Beijing, precipitating the exodus of many Taiwanese entrepreneurs and the influx of Chinese entrepreneurs. In 2010, China invited South Africa to join BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) which seeks to build successful South-South development strategies, precipitating a more state-controlled model of economic development.

Social and Cultural Dimensions of Financing for Development: New Paradigms for Change

Author: Eva Friedlander (Hunter College)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper explores how the social and cultural dimensions of financing for development issues are addressed in the UN and related civil society activities. It touches on the possibilities and problems associated with broadening the accepted economic development discourse and the potential it creates for the emergence of new paradigms for change.

Long Abstract

The international hegemonic discourse around financing for development and the economic crisis is generally considered to lie squarely in the domain of economics or sometimes more broadly of political economy. This categorization channels and delimits both the questions posed and solutions considered. Increasingly, however, there is recognition of the need for a more holistic approach and this has the potential to reconfigure aspects of the international decision-making landscape.

Based on involvement with the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, the presentation discusses the spaces in which, and processes whereby, social and cultural issues around financing for development issues are introduced at the UN and in related NGO and civil society arenas. It explores how critical intersecting issues of human rights, women's issues, and more generally social development policy are raised, thereby destabilizing economic development discourse. Efforts, for example, are made to bring attention to the ground realities of people's lives in order to influence economic policy and the conditions under which people live. Engagement and activism in the UN arena highlight both the possibilities and problems related to this exploration and expansion into social and cultural domains. A fuller understanding of the processes and institutional mechanisms of engagement can shed some light on the potential for meaningful change.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Sponsors

Wenner-Gren Visit Manchester ASA RAI Manchester University