robertogreco + livestock   10

Dr Sarah Taber on Twitter: "it's happening folks time to talk about agrarianism in the United Federation of Planets send tweet" / Twitter
[also here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1200166974292140033.html?refreshed=1575055374 ]

“it’s happening folks

time to talk about agrarianism in the United Federation of Planets send tweet

Ok so first off there are little nods to agrarianism- the idea that farming is the ideal lifestyle, and that there are “rural values” that are both different from those of urban areas and also inherently better- all over in Star Trek.

Who’s the smartest person on Starfleet Academy campus?

Boothby the gardener.

Giving the Federation a gardener for its moral guidance is an aesthetic choice. It says “this might be sci-fi where we’ve eliminated survival labor, but somehow we’re still down to earth.”

Gardeners are great, but I had this job for a while and let me just say we are also subject to moral foibles.

I would live for a sci fi universe where space captains get their moral guidance from plumbers. “Tell us what to do when the shit hits the fan, pipe daddy” they say.

Ok I’m actually gonna digress on plumbing for a minute

Plumbing is arguably MORE key to life support than farming, esp on a starship. But in the Star Trek universe it’s treated like a joke. This is a reflection on real life where farming’s revered but sanitation is unspeakable.

Anyway back to agrarianism in Star Trek

Captain Kirk is from Iowa because that tells us he is down-to-earth. Like, a REAL man. It’s v important to the theme of TOS that Kirk is the Most Authentic Guy Ever, & Iowa is a symbol of authenticity (see also: US presidential primaries).

Let’s look at some pics from the reboot. Kirk was born in 2233, so this car chase takes place around 2240-2245.

While y’all were watching the FX I was checking out the cornfields and let me tell you, THE IMPLICATIONS ARE STAGGERING

[annotated image from show]

*also this corn is weird, it’s short but already tasseling

chalk it up to future superdwarf varieties idk

1) Iowa is still dominated by corn monoculture in 2240. The scene where Kirk motorcycles to the Enterprise being built IN A CORNFIELD (0:25:00, iTunes won’t let me screenshot) clearly shows straight rows w no intercrop, confirming corn monoculture still in place in 2250-2255.

2) Corn monoculture in the 2250s implies we haven’t figured out any better way to do it, which is kind of a bummer. The current corn/soybeans regime feels eternal & inevitable, but it’s only been around for about 100 years. “How did the soybean become such a common crop in the U.S.?” https://www.agprofessional.com/article/how-did-soybean-become-such-common-crop-us

3) Corn monoculture implies bulk markets for starch, fuel, alcohol, &/or livestock, in a Federation where these needs are theoretically met by replicator & advanced engines. Not only is corn a platform @SwiftOnSecurity, it’s still a platform in the 2250s.

WHEN WILL THE LIES STOP

3) Small sample size (we only have a couple shots of 2250s Iowa farm country), but no soybeans are seen. Where did they go? Do we just … not need to eat protein or rotate crops anymore?

4) Corn pollen is sterile above ~95°F. Small rises in average global temperature may keep midwest corn from setting a crop.

Corn in 2250s Iowa implies either climate change has been reversed (good if true), or the Federation pays farmers to grow Potemkin crops for the aesthetic.

5) Midwestern corn monoculture is aided by a private property-based land tenure system. (Corn monoculture can exist *without* private land ownership, but in the event of a different land tenure system, other cropping methods are more likely to emerge.)

This implies that while the Federation is a moneyless society, it is NOT a property-less society. Land ownership is a zero-sum game. The existence of people who own real estate, especially large plots when population is high, implies the existence of haves & have-nots.

In short, the agrarian realities of Federation-era Earth suggests cracks in its post-scarcity public façade. However, the agrarian politics of Iowa merely *suggest* cracks.

It’s the Picard family vineyard where shit gets downright dystopian. STAY TUNED

*also does anybody have population estimates for Earth, either in the TOS/Kirk era or the Next Generation? I’m having no luck at all

ok time to talk about the Picard wine estate

*deep breath*

Slightly belated: just gonna put this out here for the folks in the replies suggesting “maybe folks keep farming in a post-scarcity economy because it’s ‘recreational’”

In “Family” (s4 e2), Captain Jean-Luc Picard goes home to recuperate after being turned into a Borg

and then you start to wonder why because that whole family situation is a shitshoooowwww

Setup: the way it’s played is the older brother, Robert Picard, is the dutiful son who stayed home to tend the vines like their father. He’s grumpy about how Jean-Luc “left” and won’t stop bitching about it.

HOWEVER. If you know anything about land tenure and how it’s passed on for multiple generations, this situation is even more messed up than it looks.

If you divide up a family plot among all the kids (or even all the sons), within a few generations you wind up with tiny useless postage stamps that nobody can live on. That’s especially true after a few generations of post-scarcity population growth, e.g. TNG-era Earth.

France traditionally dealt with this through primogeniture: the oldest son inherits the entire estate intact. Younger sons get a stipend if the the family’s very wealthy.

More usually, younger sons get bupkus.

Under primogeniture, younger sons typically went into the military, priesthood, or (later once colonialism got underway) maritime trade. Those were the only institutions that had space for them. The core economic, political, & social power structure- land ownership- didn’t.

Some young sons added a martlet (modified swift or martin) to their family crest. It had feathers instead of feet because they believed these birds never land. It represented how the crest’s owner would spend their life wandering to satisfy a shitty land inheritance system. [image]

The fact that Picard’s extremely French family still has an estate at all in 2367 heavily implies they’ve been using primogeniture.

Jean-Luc Picard leaving home to join Starfleet fits the younger-son-in-a-primogeniture-family to a T. He left home to join an exploratory/military/semi-priesthood-y force complete with livery and never being able to start a family, much to his regret.

Which makes his older, estate-inheriting brother Robert’s constant bitching about “whaaa you worked hard and left us” EVEN MORE HORRIFYING THAN IT LOOKS. [GIF]

This also drags up all kinds of systemic questions about how post-scarcity Star Trek Earth *works.*

Private land ownership appears to be alive & well.

Per @joeinformatico: why do the Picards own a lil slice of France, but Sisko’s dad only has a 2-story building in New Orleans?

This implies ongoing wealth inequality- of a potentially very serious degree- in Federation-era Earth.

Nobody ever mentions Robert Picard having a day job. He just twiddles around FEELING the vines (not the most responsible use of time for an estate owner) and day drinks.

He makes his wife do the cooking & won’t let her get a replicator.

Perhaps most appalling, his vineyard’s still using furrow irrigation. That’s when you run water down a ditch between rows. Super simple, but super wasteful. Lots of water soaks down past roots or evaporates.

[annotated image from show]

Hahaha and they pass off this caustic, day-drinking, controlling train wreck of a man as a “guardian of tradition”

agrarian values my ass, he’s just a jerk. it happens
Anyway, irrigation-wise, 3 things to consider:

1) grapes tend to prefer dry regions (not much water available period)

2) Earth’s population is 8 billion-ish by 2367

3) more efficient irrigation methods like microjet are already the norm in many/most wine regions in 2019.

Who the hell ARE the Picards!? They can command so much fresh water*, they’re just squirting it around. Look at how many gotdang weeds are between their grape rows. That’s what happens when you furrow irrigate, and they don’t even care.

Conclusion: the Picards are water barons

*Even in Star Trek, you CANNOT just make more fresh water through desalination. That process leaves behind a concentrated brine. It sinks & kills the shit out of whatever’s living on the ocean floor. Theoretically you could transport the brine away … to kill someplace else.

So if one wants to just wave plentiful fresh water away w “desalination,” that means there are giant toxic dumps of brine somewhere. It’s not very punk rock. Not very Federation. tl;dr water is a limited resource & the Picards are using it to mud wrestle out their issues 🤔

The picture painted here is one where hereditary wealth is still the rule, & the consequences are pretty grim for most people involved. Land & water are subject to the wealthy’s whims. Women in landed families have limited power. We don’t even know how the villagers are doing.

Systemic questions abound. Who owns the Iowa corn estates? (assuming they’re still grow corn by TNG … but given replicators need a feedstock, that’s prob still corn.)

Where do corn farms get their operating funds? It may be post-money, but it’s not post-resource allocation.

Given that 1) everyone seems to have basic needs met but 2) private land ownership is still alive & well, this implies the Star Trek economy is “fully automated luxury gay space communism” in the streets,

“UBI gone horribly wrong neofeudal patronage nightmare” in the sheets

This is all a very silly exercise. But it’s good practice for looking critically at how a society portrays itself vs what’s really going on, especially re: agriculture.

It’s also a really good thought experiment for how “fundamental needs are met” =/= justice or sustainability.

Really not entertaining any comments about how … [more]
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12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Gabriel Rosenberg on Twitter: "Ok y'all did it: A thread about hogs, ferality, and race in American history." / Twitter
[via: https://twitter.com/metaleptic/status/1158736606183841794
"come for the feral hogs, stay for the porcine analytic of settler colonialism."]

“Ok y’all did it: A thread about hogs, ferality, and race in American history.

Domestic hogs are not indigenous to North America. They were first introduced by the Spanish during the earliest phases of colonization. In fact, in many cases, hogs long preceded Europeans as the first wave of colonizers,

Hogs are tough, fierce, and hardy beasts. Their tusks offer ample defense against catamounts and other predators. They are thrifty breeders, producing large litters of viable offspring. And they can self-provision in forests, scrub, and grass (tho they also need shade and mud).

European colonizers seeded the landscape with small populations of hogs, knowing they would multiply quickly and, thus, would provide a ready supply of meat. Seeded so, hogs quickly advanced across the North American continent far faster than Europeans.

Indigenous populations faced an ambivalent gift in these new creatures. On the one hand, they could be hunted and provided another useful food source. Much like with horses, indigenous populations ingeniously harnessed porcine possibilities.

However, pigs also brought European diseases and were a vector of contagion for the epidemics that devastated indigenous populations. Hogs made life easier for settlers, and it disrupted indigenous land use. ate the crops of indigenous communities, sparking conflicts.

By the 19th century, hogs were consummate companions of settlers and pork was the predominant meat of Euro-Americans. Hogs didn’t need pasture and they produced ample lard (the most common cooking oil).

They could be pickled, barrelled, and floated down the Mississippi for the Atlantic seaboard and Europe. Cincinnati was memorably awarded the moniker “Porkopolis.” Settlers from around the Ohio River Valley drove millions of hogs there for slaughter and export.

In sum, settlers found pigs to be a useful way to extract calories from the landscape and to transform it cheaply into food and sometimes commodities. But this form of hog husbandry was low-intensity and rarely involved fences or enclosure.

In this context, the modern distinction between feral and domestic was muddier. Most hogs lived proximate to proximate to humans, some in human shelters, but they had enormous autonomy and roved freely.

This made sense early in settler colonialism, but fencing and property systems changed the story. As setters planted grains, they found roving hogs a menace who trampled and ate their crops. Similarly, fences were a form of improvement that strengthened property claims.

Over the course of the 19th century, fence laws and enclosure spread West from the Atlantic seaboard (with the exception of the South East and Appalachia where enclosure was contested until the end of the century).

In the meantime, settlers (now imagining themselves the “permanent” natives after only a generation) began to develop a different system of hog husbandry. Instead of free ranging their hogs, they increasingly confined them and fattened them on grain.

After the Civil War, the development of a robust rail system also meant live pigs could be easily transported to Chicago, which quickly replaced Cincinnati as the center of hog slaughter. This transportation network created a hog-corn nexus throughout the Middle West.

This different system of production also required a new kind of hog: settlers (now called farmers) wanted a hog that put on weight quickly and efficiently transformed corn into fat, not one that could defend itself and self-provision from a forest.

They no longer needed a lean, muscular hog with long legs and tusks capable of making a long drive to Cincinnait. They wanted a stout fat hog, with short legs, and no tusks, an animal that was docile and easily transported.

Enclosure meant they had the opportunity to do this. Whereas free ranging hogs were mostly left to their own mating, fences, crates, and barns meant farmers could intensively breed their pigs and determine with precision which animals should mate.

Ok gotta run and catch the U to get a haircut, but I’ll tweet as I go, spotty WiFi and all.

By the 1880s, pig farmers across America endeavored to “improve” their herds by breeding in European stock. Through elaborate systems of genealogy and recording, they adapted the European tradition of pure-breeding to a settler colonial context.

Such farmers raved about the purity of their (animal) bloodlines, which they considered a powerful proof of the superiority of European settled agriculture and civilization. The refinement and purity of their breeds was evidence that settler colonialism was just and natural.

And what of “unimproved” pigs? They called these animals “mongrels”, “degenerates”, “scrubs”, and “natives.” The last term indexes the conflation of indigeneity with biological inferiority and unmanaged reproduction.

And much as “refined” stock proved white European superiority, “native” animals showed that those communities setter colonialism had eradicated were “degenerate” and “barbarous.”

It is in this context that the concept of “feral” can begin to emerge as a distinct and threatening concept to white American culture: a form of unmanaged reproduction and life that exists outside and apart from property ownership and settled agriculture.

That defense of assault weapons is almost too on the nose: hordes of unmanaged life invade domesticity and managed reproduction (the daughter) and must be culled with massive and indiscriminate violence. Six hundred years of settler colonialism is speaking in that tweet.

If you learned something from this thread, please read the work of the many historians working on agriculture who helped form my thinking. These include: Anderson’s Creatures of Empire, Cronon’s Changes in the Land and Nature’s Metropolis, and Specht’s Red Meat Republic.

Also, Logan O’Laughlin’s forthcoming work, Wood’s Herds Shot Round the World, Franklin’s Dolly Mixtures, Mizelle’s Pig, Blanchette’s forthcoming Porkopolis and many many more. Oh and read some Sylvia Wynter too!

Fin.

Epilogue: I have safely returned to my office at the
@MPIWG
with a fresh bald fade and this thread completely viral. If you’re interested in my work, some links will follow.

#1 My article, “A Race Suicide Among the Hogs”: https://www.academia.edu/21787581/_A_Race_Suicide_among_the_Hogs_The_Biopolitics_of_Pork_in_the_United_States_1865_1930_American_Quarterly_68.1_March_2016_49-73

The article examines meat agriculture as a site for the production of knowledge about gender, race, and sexuality that spanned human and non-human animals. Livestock breeders and commentators alike…

#2 My article, “How Meat Changed Sex” (on the unexpected sexual politics of livestock production): https://www.academia.edu/35295117/HOW_MEAT_CHANGED_SEX_The_Law_of_Interspecies_Intimacy_after_Industrial_Reproduction

HOW MEAT CHANGED SEX: The Law of Interspecies Intimacy after Industrial Reproduction
The article explores the history and structure of American laws criminalizing sex- ual contact between humans and animals to demonstrate how the ecological conditions of late capitalism are…

#3 My book, “The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America”: https://www.amazon.com/4-H-Harvest-Sexuality-America-Politics/dp/0812247531/

4-H, the iconic rural youth program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has enrolled more than 70 million Americans over the last century. As the first comprehensive history of the organization

#4 A popular piece I wrote for the @BostonGlobe that gives you a sense of how I think about farming and rural America in the context of settler colonialism, “Fetishizing Family Farms”: https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2016/04/09/fetishizing-family-farms/NJszoKdCSQWaq2XBw7kvIL/story.html

Fetishizing family farms: History is nothing like the political mythology.

#5 A recent microsyllabus on Animal Studies I wrote for the Radical History Review’s incredible @abusablepast: https://www.radicalhistoryreview.org/abusablepast/?p=3164

Microsyllabus: Animal Studies
Compiled by Gabriel N. Rosenberg Animal Studies queries the relationship between nonhuman animals (or “animals”) and human social orders. It is an interdisciplinary field, encompassing scholarship”
pigs  hogs  multispecies  history  colonialism  gabrielrosenberg  animals  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  us  animalstudies  morethanhuman  imperialism  feral  ferality  farming  land  ownership  agriculture  livestock  food  landscape  settlercolonialism 
august 2019 by robertogreco
The Book That Made Me: An Animal | Public Books
"The Lives of Animals was the first book I read in college—or at least the first book I read in a strange, amazing seminar that rewired my brain in the first semester of freshman year. The course was about animals, and I signed up for it probably because it was a course my dad, who had been advising me on all things college, would have taken himself. He kept animal effigies all over the apartment: portraits of a donkey and a marmot in the bathroom; a giant poster of “The External Structure of Cock and Chicken” in the living room; dog figures of many breeds; pigs, his favorite, in all shapes and sizes, in every single nook and cranny. In the dining room he had a huge pig sculpture made of leather, which in retrospect was a strange and morbid combination: one animal skinned to make an image of another. Our cocker spaniel had chewed its face beyond recognition by the time my mom got around to throwing it out.

My dad passed away in 2016, two years after they got divorced, and I faced the monumental task of disposing of his menagerie. I kept many things, of course, but couldn’t keep them all. It was so easy to throw out or donate clothes, housewares, furniture, even books. I didn’t know what to do with the creatures, who seemed to contain his spirit more than anything else. I laughed when I found a key chain in a random drawer: a little brass effigy of one pig mounting another. That was his humor. That was his mind, his way of seeing, his culture—which was based, like all cultures, in certain ideas about nature. Frankly, he was a difficult man to know even when he was alive. The animals offered me a way in, as they probably did for him.

Anyway, he was the one who saw the listing for a course named “Zooësis” and thought I might like it. And I really did, from the moment our indefatigably brilliant professor, Una Chaudhuri, asked us to read J. M. Coetzee’s weird, hybrid book. The Lives of Animals is a novella, but Coetzee delivered it as a two-part Tanner Lecture at Princeton in 1997, and it centers, in turn, on two lectures delivered by its aging novelist protagonist, Elizabeth Costello. During her visit to an obscure liberal arts college, she speaks hard-to-swallow truths about the cruelties we visit upon animals, making a controversial analogy between industrialized farming and the Third Reich. But the content of her lectures is almost less important than the reactions they generate and the personal consequences she incurs, which Coetzee shows us by nesting the lectures within a fictional frame. People get incensed; the academic establishment rebukes her argument, her way of arguing, everything she represents. Even her family relationships buckle under the weight of a worldview that seems to reject reason.

Her first lecture is about the poverty of philosophy, both as a basis for animal ethics and as a medium for thinking one’s way into the mind of another kind of creature. But her second lecture is about the potential of poetry, and it’s captivating in its optimism about the ability of human language to imagine radically nonhuman forms of sensory experience—or, perhaps more radically, forms of sensory experience we share with other species.

As a person who has worked within the field commonly known as animal studies but has never worked with real animals (unlike so many great boundary-crossing thinkers: the late poet-philosopher-veterinarian Vicki Hearne, the philosopher-ethologist Vinciane Despret, et al.), I often find myself bummed out by the inadequacy of representation: Specifically, what good are animals in books? Are they not inevitably vessels of human meaning? In Flush, her novel about the inner life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Virginia Woolf has another way of putting the problem: “Do words say everything? Can words say anything? Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words?” To which I would add: Do they not destroy, or at least ignore, the creature beyond the symbol as well?

Coetzee has a different view. Or Costello, at least, has some different ideas about what poetry can do. She celebrates poems like Ted Hughes’s “The Jaguar” and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Panther”—“poetry that does not try to find an idea in the animal, that is not about the animal, but is instead the record of an engagement with him.” She finds value in poems that try to capture the fluid complexity of a moment of contact across species, rather than try to preserve an imagined essence of the animal in amber. She also defends the human imagination as something more powerful than we give it credit for. My favorite line from the book is her response to Thomas Nagel’s famous essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Nagel insists that it’s impossible for a human to know the answer to his titular question. Costello rebuts: “If we are capable of thinking our own death, why on earth should we not be capable of thinking our way into the life of a bat?” I think it takes an effort of heart, more than mind, to follow her train of thought.

The novella reflects her resistance to the imperious voice of human reason—and her embrace of the messiness of the subjective imagination—on many levels. She’s uneasy at the bully pulpit, as was Coetzee himself. For the longest time I thought that the narrator was omniscient—an impersonal God figure aligned with Coetzee’s own position at that Princeton lectern. But then I read the novella again, preparing to teach it in a lit class where we were also reading Jane Austen. I realized that the narrator filters everything through the perspective of John Bernard, Costello’s son, who has a strange tendency to obsess over his mother’s body (paging Dr. Freud: “Her shoulders stoop; her flesh has grown flabby”) and profoundly ambivalent feelings about her. He is torn between sympathy and repulsion, connection and alienation. He is torn, also, between her perspective, which persuades him to an extent, and the perspective of his wife, Norma, a philosophy professor who loathes her and has no patience for her anti-rationalist message.

The question this novella raises is always that of its own construction: Why is it a novella in the first place? What does Coetzee communicate through fiction that he couldn’t have communicated through a polemic? I think the technique of focalization, which grounds everything in John’s perspective, shows us exactly what an abstract polemic about animals couldn’t: the impossibility of speaking from a position outside our embodiment, our emotions, our primordial and instinctual feelings toward kin. In other words, the impossibility of speaking about animals as though we were not animals ourselves.

Every time I read the book—definitely every time I teach it—the potentialities of its form grow in number. I find new rooms in the house of fiction that reveal how grand a mansion it is. I display it proudly, in the center of a bookshelf lined with animal books like Marian Engel’s Bear, Woolf’s Flush, J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip, Kafka’s stories, and John Berger’s Pig Earth. The shelf is my own version of my father’s menagerie, brimming with all manner of complex and contradictory creatures. All of them are representations, but that doesn’t make them feel any less real, or any less alive.

I regard my father with some of the ambivalence that John, the son in Coetzee’s story, feels toward his own mother and her thoughts on animals. But I encounter the creatures he left behind with warmth, solidarity, and hope."
via:timoslimo  jmcoetzee  multispecies  morethanhuman  senses  writing  howwewrite  language  whywewrite  fiction  animals  bodies  unachaudhuri  philosophy  elizabethbarrettbrowning  virginiawoolf  vincianedespret  animalrights  vickihearne  rainermariarilke  tedhughes  narration  thomasnagel  imagination  messiness  janeausten  perspective  novellas  kafka  johnberger  marianengel  jrackerley  hope  solidarity  communication  embodiment  emotions  persuasion  mattmargini  canon  books  reading  howweread  teaching  howweteach  farming  livestock  sensory  multisensory  animalstudies  poetry  poems  complexity  grief  literature  families  2019 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Anne Galloway 'Speculative Design and Glass Slaughterhouses' - This is HCD
"Andy: You’ve got quite an interesting background. I’m going to ask you about in a second. I wanted to start with the quote from Ursula Le Guin that you have on your website. It’s from the Lathe of Heaven. “We’re in the world, not against it. It doesn’t work to try and stand outside things and run them that way, it just doesn’t work. It goes against life. There is a way, but you have to follow it, the world is, no matter how we think it ought to be, you have to be with it, you have to let it be.

Then on the More Than Human website, you have these three questions. What if we refuse to uncouple nature and culture? What if we deny that human beings are exceptional? What if we stop speaking and listening only to ourselves? The More Than Human lab explores everyday entanglements of humans and non-humans and imagines more sustainable ways of thinking, making, and doing. Anne, let’s get started by first talking about what do you mean by all of that?

Anne: The Ursula Le Guin quote I love mostly because a critical perspective or an activist perspective, anything that says we ought to be changing the world in any way, it always assumes that we need to fix something, that the world is broken and that designers especially are well-suited to be able to solve some of these problems. I like thinking about what it means to respond to injustice by accepting it, not in the sense of believing that it’s okay or right, because clearly, it’s been identify as unjust. I love Le Guin’s attention to the fact that there is a way to be in the world.

As soon as we think that we’re outside of it, any choices or decisions or actions that we take are, well, they sit outside of it as well. I like being embedded in the trouble. I like Donna Haraway’s idea of staying with the trouble. It’s not that we have to accept that things are problematic, but rather that we have to work within the structures that already exist. Not to keep them that way, in fact, many should be dismantled or changed. Rather, to accept that there is a flow to the universe.

Of course, Le Guin was talking about Taoism, but here what I wanted to draw attention to is often our imperative to fix or to solve or to change things comes with a belief that we’re not part of the world that we’re trying to fix and change. It’s that that I want to highlight. That when we start asking difficult questions about the world, we can never remove ourselves from them. We’re complicit, we are on the receiving end of things. We’re never distant from it. I think that subtle but important shift in deciding how we approach our work is really important."



"Andy: Yes, okay. I was thinking about this, I was reading, in conjunction, this little Le Guin quote, I was trying to think, it’s unusual in the sense that it’s a discipline or a practice of design that uses its own practice to critique itself. It’s using design to critique design in many respects. A lot of what speculative design is talking about is, look what happens when we put stuff into the world, in some way, without much thought. I was trying to think if there was another discipline that does that. I think probably in the humanities there are, and certainly in sociology I think there probably is, where it uses its own discipline to critique itself. It’s a fairly unusual setup.

Anne: I would think actually it’s quite common in the humanities, perhaps the social sciences, where it’s not common is in the sciences. Any reflexive turn in any of the humanities would have used the discipline. Historiography is that sort of thing. Applied philosophy is that sort of thing. Reflexive anthropology is that sort of thing. I think it’s actually quite common, just not in the sciences, and design often tries to align itself with the sciences instead.

Andy: Yes, there was a great piece in the Aeon the other day, about how science doesn’t have an adequate description or explanation for consciousness. Yet, it’s the only thing it can be certain of. With that, it also doesn’t really seem to come up in the technology industry that much, because it’s so heavily aligned with science. Technology, and you’ve got this background in culture studies and science and technology and society, technology is a really strong vein throughout speculative design. Indeed, your work, right? Counting sheep is about the Internet of Things, and sheep. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that and why I am talking to you from the picture things to the Lord of the Rings, it basically looks like you’re living in part of the Shire in Middle Earth?

Anne: I do live in a place that looks remarkably like the Shire. It’s a bit disconcerting at times. The science and technology question in speculative design I think is first of all a matter of convenience. Science fiction, speculation, they lean historically, habitually towards science and tech. It becomes an easy target for critique. Not that it’s not necessary, but it’s right there, so why not? There’s that element to it. It has an easier ability to be transformed into something fanciful or terrifying, which allows for certain kinds of storytelling through speculation, that I think people, both creators and audiences or readers really enjoy.

Now, the irony of all of this, of course is that arguably one of the greatest concerns that people have would be tied to technological determinism, the idea that we’re going to have these technologies anyway, so what are we going to do about it? Now, when you speculate using these technologies, what you’re doing is actually reinforcing the idea that these technologies are coming, you play right into the same technological determinism that you’re trying to critique. In fact, one of the counting sheep scenarios was designed specifically to avoid the technology. It was the one that got the most positive responses."



"Andy: With all of this, and I may this pop at the beginning, just before we were recording, that there’s a sense of, because of everything going on in the world, that if only designers could run the world, everything would be fine, right, because we can see all of the solutions to everything. What would you want designers to get out of this kind of work or this kind of perspective?

Anne: Humility. That simple. I am one of those people. It’s because of being an ethnographer as well and doing participant observation and interviewing many people and their ideas about design. I’ve run into far more people who think that designers are arrogant than ones who don’t. This has always really interested me. What is it that designers do that seems to rub non-designers the wrong way? Part of it is this sense of, or implication that they know better than the rest of us, or that a designer will come in and say, “Let me fix your problem”, before even asking if there is a problem that the person wants fixed.

I actually gave a guest lecture in a class just the other day, where I suggested that there were people in the world who thought that designers were arrogant. One of the post-graduate students in the class really took umbrage at this and wanted to know why it was that designers were arrogant for offering to fix problems, but a builder wasn’t, or a doctor wasn’t.

Andy: What was your answer?

Anne: Well, my answer was, generally speaking, people go to them first and say, “I have this problem, I need help.” Whereas, designers come up with a problem, go find people that they think have it and then tell them they’d like to solve it. I think just on a social level, that is profoundly anti-social. That is not how people enjoy socially interacting with people.

Andy: I can completely see that and I think that I would say that argument has also levelled, quite rightly, a lot of Silicon Valley, which is the answer to everything is some kind of technology engineering startup to fix all the problems that all the other technology and engineering startups that are no longer startups have created. It’s probably true of quite a lot of areas of business and finance, as well, and politics, for that matter. The counter, I could imagine a designer saying, “Well, that’s not really true”, because one of the things as human-centred designers, the first thing we do, we go out, we do design ethnography, we go and speak to people, we go and observe, we go and do all of that stuff. We really understand their problems. We’re not just telling people what needs to be fixed. We’re going there and understanding things. What’s your response to that?

Anne: Well, my first response is, yes, that’s absolutely true. There are lots of very good designers in the world who do precisely that. Because I work in an academic institution though, I’m training students. What my job involves is getting the to the point where they know the difference between telling somebody something and asking somebody something. what it means to actually understand their client or their user. I prefer to just refer to them as people. What it is that people want or need. One of the things that I offer in all of my classes is, after doing the participant observation, my students always have the opportunity to submit a rationale for no design intervention whatsoever.

That’s not something that is offered to people in a lot of business contexts because there’s a business case that’s being made. Whereas, I want my students to understand that sometimes the research demonstrates that people are actually okay, and that even if they have little problems, they’re still okay with that, that people are quite okay with living with contradictions and that they will accept some issues because it allows for other things to emerge. That if they want, they can provide the evidence for saying, “Actually, the worst thing we could do in this scenario is design anything and I refuse to design.”

Andy: Right, that and the people made trade-offs all the time because of the pain of change is much … [more]
annegalloway  design  2019  speculativefiction  designethnography  morethanhuman  ursulaleguin  livestock  agriculture  farming  sheep  meat  morethanhumanlab  activism  criticaldesign  donnaharaway  stayingwiththetrouble  taoism  flow  change  changemaking  systemsthinking  complicity  catherinecaudwell  injustice  justice  dunneandraby  consciousness  science  technology  society  speculation  speculativedesign  questioning  fiction  future  criticalthinking  whatif  anthropology  humanities  reflexiveanthropology  newzealand  socialsciences  davidgrape  powersoften  animals  cows  genevievebell  markpesce  technologicaldeterminism  dogs  cats  ethnography  cooperation  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  slow  slowness  time  perception  psychology  humility  problemsolving  contentment  presence  peacefulness  workaholism  northamerica  europe  studsterkel  protestantworkethic  labor  capitalism  passion  pets  domestication 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Here's How America Uses Its Land
"There are many statistical measures that show how productive the U.S. is. Its economy is the largest in the world and grew at a rate of 4.1 percent last quarter, its fastest pace since 2014. The unemployment rate is near the lowest mark in a half century.

What can be harder to decipher is how Americans use their land to create wealth. The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure."
maps  mapping  us  land  landuse  visualization  data  environment  2018  farming  livestock  grazing  agriculture  forests  pasture  urban  urbanization 
august 2018 by robertogreco
PIG/PORK: Archaeology, Zoology and Edibility: Pía Spry-Marqués: Bloomsbury Sigma
"Pigs unite and divide people, but why? Pig/Pork explores the love-hate relationship between humans and pigs through the lenses of archaeology, biology, history and gastronomy, providing a close and affectionate look of the myriad causes underlying this singular, multi-millennial bond.

What is it that people in all four corners of the world find so fascinating about the pig? When did the human obsession with pigs begin, how did it develop through time, and where is it heading? Why are pigs so special to some of us, but not to others? Pig/Pork sets out to answer these and other porcine-related questions, examining human-pig interactions across the globe through time, from the Palaeolithic to the present day. The book dissects pig anatomy and behaviour, and describes how this knowledge plays a major role in the advance of the agricultural and medical sciences, among others. The book also looks closely at the history of pig-human interaction; how they were domesticated and when, how they affected human history through their diseases, and how they have been involved in centuries of human conflicts, with particular reference to the story of the Iberian Jews and Muslims at the time of the Inquisition. The book goes on to look at how pigs' characteristics and our relationship with them have combined to produce many of the world's great dishes. All this is accompanied by a liberal peppering of pork recipes and the stories behind them, along with facts, wisdom and porker lore, providing a thought-provoking account of where our food comes from, both historically and agriculturally, and how this continues to influence many parts of our behaviour and culture."
pigs  books  pork  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  morethanhuman  multispecies  livestock  agriculture  history  culture  food  archaeology  zoology  gastronomy  biology  science 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Cosmoecological Sheep and the Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet | Environmental Humanities | Duke University Press
"In recent decades, in the South of France some young people from urban backgrounds have chosen to become shepherds and to learn to reconnect with the herding practices that many livestock breeders had abandoned under the pressure of agricultural modernization policies. In some cases they have found themselves entrusted with sheep that are as naive about herding as they themselves were. Before their introduction to transhumance—seasonal movement between pastures—these animals were primarily confined and fed indoors or in small fenced areas. The shepherds had to learn how to lead, how to understand other modes of living, how to teach their sheep what is edible and what is not, and how to form a flock; the sheep had to learn how to “compose with” dogs and humans, to acquire new feeding habits, a new ethos, and moreover, new ways of living in an enlarged world. These practices cannot be reduced to a livestock economy: shepherds consider herding a work of transformation and ecological recuperation—of the land, of the sheep, of ways of being together. Learning the “arts of living on a damaged planet,” as Anna Tsing has termed it, humans and animals are making their own contributions to a new cosmoecology, creating cosmoecological connections and contributing to what Ghassan Hage has called alter-politics."
cosmoecology  cosmopolitics  sheep  shepherds  multispecies  morethanhuman  ethology  ethics  economics  2016  vincianedespret  michelmeuret  france  annalowenhaupttsing  herding  agriculture  livestock  animals  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  ecology  alter-politics  ghassanhage  anthropocene  latecapitalism  annatsing 
december 2017 by robertogreco
google sheep view
"We started this project in 2015 because it is the year of the sheep.

We started this project because we enjoy the “sheep view” when riding trains in the Netherlands.

We started this project to dedicate it to a particular sheep of the zwart bles breed.


Ding Ren (halfcrystalline) + Mike Karabinos (voidsinthearchive)"
via:anne  sheep  googlestreetview  livestock  animals 
june 2015 by robertogreco
What is it About Animals? |
"We know that animals play important roles in our social, cultural and political lives, as loved ones, friends and companions, workers, ‘livestock’, ‘products’ and ‘commodities’. For instance, in Australia, 63 percent of households include a companion animal, many people living with companion animals consider them to be “family members” (estimates vary between 75-90 percent), and the pet animal industry contributes approximately AUD$4.74 billion annually to the economy (Australian Companion Animal Council, nd).

The bond between many humans and their animal companions is often very strong, invoking emotions of attachment and pleasure. Human–companion animal relationships may allow people to experience themselves and their lives in significantly different ways; ways that are very positive. Humans who describe themselves as ‘animal lovers’ usually see their pets as valued family members, whether (or not) these animals are substitute children, friends, protectors, and/or sources of companionship and affection. Also, plenty of people feel affection or even love towards animals they do not keep as companions or pets, such as native birds that visit them or injured wildlife that they help to care for until they are ready to be released into their habitat.

In this study we want to know how you experience animals you consider important; how you describe and feel about these relationships. We are keen to dig beneath the stereotypes to examine the perceptions of, and meanings attributed to, the relationships ‘animal lovers’ have with their companion animals or any other animals they feel affection towards. That is why we inviting participants to use a range of mediums or formats (e.g. photos, stories, videos, poems, paintings, drawings) to represent their human-animal relationships. Feel free to be creative and have fun."
via:anne  animals  multispecies  pets  niktaylor  heatherfraser  affection  wildlife  companionship  relationship  livestock  friendship  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
New course in multispecies design | Design Culture Lab
"Have you ever wondered what it would be like to design with, and for, animals instead of people? How would that change the way we understand them–and ourselves? What would we design?

I’m excited to be teaching a new course next term that will explore these and related questions.

CCDN384: Multispecies Design

Understanding relationships between people and animals is central to future ecological sustainability. This course introduces students to cultural, political and economic forces that shape our interactions with pets, livestock, and wildlife in order to critically and creatively explore how different kinds of design can foster animal, environmental, and human well-being.

This special topic course comprises a weekly lecture that introduces students to a variety of human-animal relations and their cultural, political, ethical, economic, and environmental implications. Weekly tutorials connect these relations and issues to narrative, image, product and service-based design practice. Students are expected to demonstrate their comprehension of these relations, issues, and practices through a pair of creative projects: one visual design and one object or service-based design."
annegalloway  multispecies  animals  2014  multispeciesdesign  human-animalrelations  relationships  sustainability  classideas  culture  ethics  politics  servicedesign  well-being  pets  livestock  humans  wildlife  human-animalrelationships 
june 2014 by robertogreco

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