More on the wildlife-infrastructure conundrum

Continuing along the lines of my earlier post, Wildlife’s Infrastructure nightmare, here are links to two very recent news-reports on this wildlife-infrastructure link, if it can be called that…
a) Cutting a rail-link through a forests cuts off the corridor for primate movement and then we construct a bridge to bridge the earlier cut…The story of a rare primate in a small forest of the North-east Indian state of Assam
Bridge to connect gibbon families

and
b) And in the same region of the country, a wild Asian elephant dies, when human negligence results in the electrocution of the pachyderm when he comes in contact with a live high-tension electric cable: The death of an elephant

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About Pankaj Sekhsaria

Pankaj Sekhsaria is author of 'The Last Wave', (http://tinyurl.com/njatxm2) a novel based in the Andaman islands of India. He is also a journalist, photographer and researcher with four books, a dozen peer reviewed papers and nearly 200 newspaper and magazine articles to his credit. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Science and Technology Studies (STS) at Maastricht University Science and Technology Studies (MUSTS). His Phd research involves studying the techno-scientific practices inside nanotechnology labs in India to understand and articulate the idea of a 'culture of innovation'

24 thoughts on “More on the wildlife-infrastructure conundrum

  1. Heidegger gave us a reading of Techno-logos as an aspect of anthropo-logos such that we tend to grasp wild-life/elements/etc as natural-resources, as material means to ends and not ends/goods in and of themselves to be valued/appreciated as such. So in your work what do we gain by focusing on infrastructures/infra-structuring in particular, and how does this framing/assembling/structuring play into, or not , our tendencies to manipulate our environs for our particular ends?
    http://syntheticzero.net/2014/02/25/on-a-certain-blindness-in-human-beings-william-james/

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    • The context, I think, is the larger framework that’s driving the economy that is itself marching along relentlessly. A certain set of infrastructural structures and spaces that includes roads, rail lines, power projects, power lines, industrial parks, economic corridors anchor this economic development and it’s becoming increasing difficult, certainly in the Indian context, to even question these. A certain framework that seems unaware and uncaring is being imposed on the landscape that exists already…Natural systems such as water flows, hydrologies, animal movement corridors, coastal action is dis-regarded or sought to be modified significantly…And the cost for a lot of this is not accounted for, not acknowledged and not understood…Part of my interest and my work has been that of a chronicler of these developments, of documenting these tendencies of ours to manipulate our environs to meet our ends. So what we gain in the first instance, I guess, is the knowledge and the information of events and developments that otherwise escape our notice…

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      • well getting a sense of what’s happening is always a good starting place but are we merely to read these intrusions/infrastructures as signs/symptoms of some cancerous cause (perhaps some strain or another of extraction economics/Inc.) or as sorts of acupuncture points where ameliorative pressure might be applied, or ____?

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        • I think there could be various ways in which we can look at these infrastructural elements as instrusions…I feel and again, I talk mainly from an Indian context, we are so blinded by the need and the narrative of more ‘infrastructure’ projects that we forget the various costs that have to be paid. There is the dimension of knowing more, but we also need to analyse and conceptualise this more – to understand what is happening, why it is happening and importantly if there are other ways and pathways that we can take….

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          • perhaps there are degrees of particularity to the happenings in India that are categorically different from others but around the world we have lots of reporting/accounting of various industrial externalities and in and of themselves these accounts don’t offer up alternatives, without a new politics/economics the default (and the powers as Greece recently demonstrated) will be business as usual.
            http://syntheticzero.net/2015/02/14/yanis-varoufakis-all-the-good-stuff-that-cannot-be-measured/

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              • Pankaj and dmf — alternatives to the current infra-structuring of our world, supporting some ways of life (mainly ours, when it does not fail completely) while circumventing other ways of life (mainly not ours, including flora and fauna, as well as many ani-mobilities [cool Mike Michael paper on that: https://www.animalsandsociety.org/assets/library/542_s1241.pdf%5D), surely exist; however, it would take collaboration and shared vision (I’m thinking of Buckminster Fuller immediately — dense human zones separated by vast natural landscapes has been a vision for some time); that is, by the way, for sure a really important upshot for divisive politics that leads to no collaboration or even compromise: everybody gets to keep doing whatever the hell they want to do without being able to be taken-to-task for it.

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                • my sense of these matters is that those of us who might be bothered enough to actually change how to we live (including actively resisting) day to day to try and make a difference are quite small and so we need to think in terms of extreme minority politics which will not be large-scale engineering efforts or such but something more in keeping with our resources/response-abilities,.

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                • hi Nicholas “dense human zones separated by vast natural landscapes” is one way of looking for solutions…there is also the other visions and imaginaries which might limitedly be called the ‘landscape’ approach – where the separations are not sharp, where there are gradations, where most or all human communities live lives with a minimal ecological footprint. Such landscapes exist already in many parts of the world, but are increasingly being threatened with one consequence or perhaps a cause being the attempt to separate and create enclaves if I might use that word

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                  • I like the idea of “landscape” (as a concept) stunting our imaginations. I have some research on that regarding states, and how “the state” (as a concept) stunts our political imaginations (i.e., it is hard to think about politics at all without the state in political science). Maybe we could write something comparing these two “stunting” concepts — and possibly develop the notion of “conceptual stunting” or something like that? Game?

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                    • one of the attractions of folks like Pickering and Hacking is that they showed how little such meta concepts/abstractions mattered in the actual lab doings of scientists and I think such work could easily be done with less ‘hard’ sciences just by showing more of how actual politicking (or whatever) gets done and how this doesn’t fit the abstract accounts. I keep running into doctoral candidates in social-sciences/information-studies/business/etc who take the abstractions as the vetted/verified givens that we measure our findings against instead of the actual doings of people and machines, bizarre mirror-world in the making largely driven by what gets accepted by journals, publish or perish i suppose tho with global-weirding and other externalities of extraction/expusion economics these two may be merging…
                      http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/how-to-think-about-science-part-4-1.465007

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                    • Hmmm, no doubt, that is why I was reading Pickering in Tom Gieryn’s office all those years ago as a student. Still, I am a little more sympathetic to the claim I made previously (about the state or landscape) than I used to be. In the history of political science, notions such as the state were a well-spring for ideas and research; however, increasingly, as people talk about a time after the state or the hollowing-out of the state in the context of ever-advancing globalization, they come to realize that it is difficult to talk about the body of political scientific research without reference to the state; after all, even attempts to go beyond the state invoke the state; creating critical alternatives to the state as a mode of social organization still underscores the significance of the state in the process. Perhaps I am living in a mirror-world, but there are academic discussions that are not possible to participate in without these sorts of terms (or abstractions), many of them, in fact, and I don’t know how to get around that seemingly intransigent reality. I am all for showing how little these concepts matter for daily life inside the state or out in the landscape; however, there must be another sort of relationship possible to explicate beyond the Pickering/Hacking wonderful insight that “concepts matter less than you’d think in the conduct of science” and instead talk about something more like “while they don’t matter or do not drive a lot of reality, they can also constrain that reality by putting terms and limits on our imaginations.” This is sort of like that comment — oft heard by readers of zizek — that we don’t know what comes after capitalism; there is something about capitalism that stunts our ability to see anything beyond it or ways to reign it in.

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  2. Reposting here: that past comment is too small!

    Hmmm, no doubt, that is why I was reading Pickering in Tom Gieryn’s office all those years ago as a student. Still, I am a little more sympathetic to the claim I made previously (about the state or landscape) than I used to be. In the history of political science, notions such as the state were a well-spring for ideas and research; however, increasingly, as people talk about a time after the state or the hollowing-out of the state in the context of ever-advancing globalization, they come to realize that it is difficult to talk about the body of political scientific research without reference to the state; after all, even attempts to go beyond the state invoke the state; creating critical alternatives to the state as a mode of social organization still underscores the significance of the state in the process. Perhaps I am living in a mirror-world, but there are academic discussions that are not possible to participate in without these sorts of terms (or abstractions), many of them, in fact, and I don’t know how to get around that seemingly intransigent reality. I am all for showing how little these concepts matter for daily life inside the state or out in the landscape; however, there must be another sort of relationship possible to explicate beyond the Pickering/Hacking wonderful insight that “concepts matter less than you’d think in the conduct of science” and instead talk about something more like “while they don’t matter or do not drive a lot of reality, they can also constrain that reality by putting terms and limits on our imaginations.” This is sort of like that comment — oft heard by readers of zizek — that we don’t know what comes after capitalism; there is something about capitalism that stunts our ability to see anything beyond it or ways to reign it in.

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    • important i think to ask are concepts being applied/employed or just terms?
      i for one don’t think concepts exist and that these are matters of speech-acts (writ large) and all the politics/psychology/hierarchies/etc that are at play in such performances, but if folks believe in the concepts as such let’s look at a case together and see what is going on.

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