Anthropology and Environment Society
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In 2017, the governor of Ecuador's Pastaza Province legally declared the province’s 2.5 million hectares of primary rainforest an Ecological Area of Sustainable Development. In the months since, the provincial government has been working to enroll their forests in a subnational emission offset program which targets jurisdictions controlling key areas of tropical forest. This move heralds the transition from an extractivist to a conservationist, or climate, economy in which local governments monetize their forest sector by regulating emissions. Pastaza is also home to seven different indigenous nations who are now having to contend with this new regime of environmentality (Agrawal 2005). Many communities are forming a united front against market-based conservation, on the grounds that it does nothing to address extraction, consumption, and pollution, and is violently antithetical to indigenous cosmovision and stewardship of sacred forests. Local, and ancestral, models of conservation enact radical ontological and economic alternatives to the sustainable development and climate mitigation envisioned by the provincial government. My research on conservation cosmopolitics (de la Cadena 2010) attends to the friction (Tsing 2012) generated between bureaucrats and indigenous communities over the ontological value of forests and investigates how cosmological difference is ignored, mistranslated, appropriated, or erased by State agents. I evaluate Pastaza as a site where cosmologies are pitted against one another, where political equivocation (Blaser 2019; Viveiros de Castro 2004) renders conflict in terms of discursive dissonance, and where the material environment has become a palimpsest of “multiple natures and their differences” (Raffles 2002).