Thinking Ecographically?

I’m currently reading through a jungle of papers as preparatory work for a possible PhD run (fucking crazy, right?) in my home disciple of anthropology. My focus has been on decolonization, indigenous resistance, and deep adaptation – with a wonky eye towards further developing patchwork theory and praxis. The following paper relates some of the concepts and methodology I’d be bringing to bear on those topics. Comments are, as usual, very much welcome.

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Thinking Ecographically: Places, Ecographers, and Environmentalism
by Jamon Alex Halvaksz and Heather E. Young-Leslie

ABSTRACT: The literature on environment-animal-human relations, place, and space, tends to emphasize cultural differences between global interests and local environmental practices. While this literature contributes substantially to our understanding of resource management, traditional ecological knowledge, and environmental protection, the work of key persons imbricated in both global and local positions has been elided. In this article, we propose a theory of “ecographers” as individuals particularly positioned to relate an indigenous epistemology of the local environment with reference to traditional and introduced forms of knowledge, practice, and uses of places, spaces, and inter-species relationships. We ground our analysis in ethnographic research among two Pacific communities, but draw parallels with individuals from varied ethnographic and environmental settings. This new concept offers a powerful cross-cultural approach to ecological strategizing relationships; one grounded by local yet globally and historically inflected agents of the present.
Read More: Here
Excerpts:
“Ecography is ‘the inscription of human history and agency in a place and its denizens, and a mutual re-inscription of land, sea and dwellers into human lives, by way of place names, emplaced stories, ceremonial titles and remembered rituals’ (Young-Leslie 2007: 366).”
“’ecographic thinking’ as the creativity of specific persons in the reciprocal interactive process of mutual inscription and reinscription of places and their denizens (i.e., all living entities of a place).”
“we see ecographers as talented individuals, situated, whether by design or circumstance, at a nexus of information and knowledge, power and event, place and time. Serres’ (Serres and Latour 1995: 66) notion of Hermes as “the messenger” who folds spacetime helps us conceptualize ecographic epistemology. Through actions, behavior, and speech ecographers relate (fold) an inscribed landscape, rendering it, and its residents (all species), locally meaningful.
“our understanding of ecographers also seeks to break (as West [2005] suggests) with the ecological anthropologies and political ecologies that privilege human action as merely what Viveiros de Castro called ‘an adaptive tête-àtête with nature’ (1996: 184). Instead, we agree that we must pay “[c]loser attention to the practice in which humans engage with the environment, rather than positivist pursuit of cognitive models” (Hviding 1996: 169).”
“we call for a refocus on the work of specific individuals in imagining and reimagining local ethno-ecologies. Doing so theorizes a repositioning of authority over, and agency in, the representational dialogues, desires, and resultant texts about such places, and decenters the perspectives of Western institutions and researchers.”

Ecography as sub-species of ontography, maybe? There is much more to pull from this text. Enjoy.

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