Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Tower Block Level 10, 469A Bukit Timah Road
NUS @ Bukit Timah Campus
Singapore 259770 [Map]
Asia’s urban transition has radically transformed the region’s societies and its ecologies. The evidence is everywhere: factories and concrete tarmac have replaced Bangkok’s wetlands; Japan’s coastal communities are surrounded by ever-growing seawalls; and in China, smog has become a major political concern. If we are indeed living in a period marked by the deep effects of humans on our environment, what many have called the Anthropocene, then such phenomena would seem to exemplify the stakes associated with these changes at their broadest levels. Yet, closer inspection reveals that such macro-level environmental changes are in fact enmeshed in micro-level social shifts, political contestations, and cultural transformations.
For individuals and communities living in Asia’s burgeoning mega-cities, growing provincial centers, and changing hinterlands, social and environmental rupture has become constant and routine, its logic embedded in everyday practices and emerging policies. In many parts of the region, disaster is no longer relegated to acute, isolated, untoward events; it is now the “new normal.” Even when not coping directly with an ongoing disaster’s impacts, many Asian communities are engaged in either pre-disaster preparation or post-disaster recovery. Moreover, state and non-state actors strategically invoke the memory, or threat, of changing environments in order to justify their own agendas, projects, and policies. Patterns of migration and resettlement, urban infrastructure development, capital investment, and social policy are co-produced along with these shifting environments, modifying social relations, exacerbating inequalities, and generating fierce political struggles. At stake in these conflicts are normative, pragmatic and theoretical questions about citizenship, about the shape and relations of the built and natural environments, about the respective roles of local and expert knowledge, and about the constitution of just and resilient communities, in an age of unprecedented transformation. The lived experience of such contestations, the disruption that provokes them, and the practices that produce that disruption, shows how the epochal Anthropocene is found in the normal, the routine, and the quotidian.
We are calling for papers to explore The Quotidian Anthropocene in a focused workshop -17th October, 2014 at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute. This call is open to scholars from a wide variety of disciplines including the Social Sciences and Humanities presenting diverse analysis from a variety of situated vantage points from across urbanizing Asia. Potential papers may address, but are not limited to, the following areas:
- How do quotidian practices in Asian communities produce or respond to the massive ecological transformations? What sorts of contestations emerge out of our changing environment? What might these struggles tell us about new political practices and emerging forms of environmental/disaster governance?
- What ruptures or sites of socio-political conflict expose the new hybridities and engagements between humans and the planet?
- What are the consequences of living in an age of environmental change marked by chronic and periodic disasters? What are the politics of space, place, and memory in a world of frequent disruption? How does the threat or experience of disaster come to inflect contests over the right to the city?
- What kinds of projects—social, technological, infrastructural, economic, political—arise from and/or emerge in response to the changing planet?What forms of knowledge, contestation, and practice are invoked or produced by such projects?
- How do experts and officials engage with the diverse sorts of constituencies likely to be caught by such shifts? How do publics engage with experts and authorities? How do all these actors deal with ongoing material and ecological transformations?
Workshop presenters may explore these issues through studies of contemporary and historical cases from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives. In exploring such topics, The Quotidian Anthropocene: Reconfiguring Environments in Urbanizing Asia will offer a window into the production and re-ordering of local, regional, and global ecologies. We will consider how, even as seismic ecological rearrangements occur, human actors — including experts, authorities, and citizens — produce, feel, respond and adapt to such changes. This workshop will interrogate these changes from situated vantage points across Asia’s urban-rural matrix as a means of considering how the Anthropocene is experienced in everyday life and how past and present struggles are shaping its future. It will provide insight into how such political endeavors reimagine the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, as well as the roles played by local and expert knowledge, in re-making the new Asian city and preparing it for life in this precarious era.
SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS
Eli ElinoffAsia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Earl Tyson VaughanUniversity of Pennsylvania, USA