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Techno-Revivalism: Mobilizing "Tradition" to Address Climate Change


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When discussions of climate change focus on technology, as they often do, they tend to debate the merits of futuristic "fixes" such as geo-engineering, or the barriers to adaptation posed by "lock-in" to existing technologies that were never designed to cope with changes of such magnitude.  Recently a rather different form of intervention in response to shifting climate conditions has emerged: what might be called "techno-revivalism."  Techno-revivalism asks how technologies that draw their inspiration from "tradition," variously and broadly conceived, can address the harms associated with climate change in ways that go beyond sustainability to foster ecological regeneration.  Attempts to revive waru-waru agriculture in Peru, to recover historic rainwater harvesting designs in Rajasthan, and to rebuild underground water tunnels in Syria represent just a few of these efforts.  Techno-revivalist initiatives incorporate very different takes on the relationship of technology to sociality, from the "dying wisdom" school in India to the "living traditions" approach favored in many Native American and First Nations communities.  Such projects are shaped not only by the political ecologies in which they take root, but also by technological fetishism and the rhetorical invocation of climate change to garner support.  A version of this talk will appear in the forthcoming collection In the Name of Climate Change (ed. Barbara Bodenhorn, Cambridge University Press).

  • Brooks Hall 2nd Floor Conference Room
    Reception follows in Brooks Commons, 1st Floor
Event Date: 
Friday, 13 September 2013 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Speaker: 
Kath Weston
Speaker Title: 
Professor Dept. of Anthropology, University of Virginia