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Richard Meissner and Jeroen Warner


What role can non-diplomats play in managing and altering power relations in transboundary river basins? We answer this by investigating the lobbying efforts of indigenous peoples to stop the construction of the planned Orokawe (Baynes) dam on the Kunene River. The Kunene River forms part of the border between Angola and Namibia with several concluded treaties in place. These treaties set the context of bilateral state diplomacy concerning the allocation and management of a transboundary water resource. The theoretical foundation of our investigation are ideational power conceptualizations and practice theory. We discuss the employment of ideational power in transboundary rivers with numerous practices, such as lobbying and transnational network development. This article argues that actors consciously practice power during transboundary water diplomacy.


¿Qué papel desempeñan los no-diplomáticos en la gestión y modificación de las relaciones de poder en las cuencas fluviales transfronterizas? Respondemos investigando los esfuerzos de cabildeo de los pueblos indígenas para detener la construcción de la presa Orokawe (Baynes) en el río Kunene, entre Angola y Namibia. La asignación y gestión de este recurso hídrico transfronterizo, cuenta con varios tratados concluidos que establecen el contexto de la diplomacia estatal bilateral. La base teórica de esta investigación son las conceptualizaciones del poder ideacional y la “teoría de la práctica”. El empleo del poder ideacional en ríos transfronterizos se refleja en prácticas como el cabildeo y el desarrollo de redes transnacionales. Este artículo sostiene que los actores practican conscientemente este poder durante la diplomacia del agua transfronteriza.


Quel rôle les non-diplomates peuvent-ils jouer dans la gestion et la modification des relations de pouvoir dans les bassins fluviaux transfrontaliers? Nous répondons à cette question en enquêtant sur les efforts de lobbying des peuples autochtones pour arrêter la construction du projet du barrage d'Orokawe (Baynes) sur le fleuve Kunene. Le Kunene forme une partie de la frontière entre l'Angola et la Namibie, pays entre lesquels plusieurs traités sont en vigueur. Ces traités définissent le contexte de la diplomatie bilatérale des États concernant le partage et la gestion de la ressource en eau transfrontalière. Les fondements théoriques de notre enquête reposent sur les conceptualisations du pouvoir idéationnel et la théorie de la pratique. L'article aborde les nombreuses pratiques du pouvoir idéationnel dans les cours d'eau transfrontaliers, telles que le lobbying et le développement de réseaux transnationaux. Il soutient que les acteurs exercent consciemment le pouvoir dans le cadre de la diplomatie transfrontalière de l'eau.

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Posthuman? Nature and Culture in Renegotiation

Kornelia Engert and Christiane Schürkmann


The contributions in this special issue focus on different phenomena and conceptual approaches dealing with “the Posthuman” as a discourse of renegotiating nature-culture-relationships that has emerged over the past decades. The selected articles from fields of sociology, political science, and social anthropology demonstrate how to work with and discuss posthumanistic and post-anthropocentric perspectives, but also how to irritate and criticize universal assumptions of particular posthuman approaches empirically and theoretically. The introduction aims to position the particular contributions in a field of tension between de- and re-centering human beings and human agency.

Open access

Latin America

A challenging prospect for regionalism

Ernesto Vivares


This article contends that the prospects of regionalism in Latin America are highly uncertain. In the light of the inequality that has historically characterized the region, the commodity-oriented dependence, and the political instability, the region will not be able to face the future without cooperation. This article argues that Latin America must aim at pragmatic and non-ideological cooperation to focus on regional development. To reach that goal, the article discusses how both the traditional development formulas of neoliberalism and neodevelopmentalism have been unable to deliver consistent responses to the current regional problems in the face of COVID-19 and the changing global order.

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Franziska von Verschuer


Since the mid-twentieth century global modernization of agriculture, seed banking has become a core technoscientific strategy to counteract agrobiodiversity loss and ensure future food security. This article develops a post-anthropocentric reading of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as a nodal point of global ex situ conservation efforts. Based on qualitative expert interviews, I explore the rationality of crisis and salvation that underlies these efforts and discuss its roots in an anthropocentric relation to nature as a resource. By arguing that the latter produces the crises that conservation measures intend to counteract, I show how the Seed Vault conserves this resource-orientation. I then illustrate a concurrent unruliness of more-than-human worldly becoming the embracing of which, I argue, is a way for conservationism to cultivate different, non-crisic futures.

Open access

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

After almost one year of global pandemic, the overlapping crises caused by COVID-19 have worsened in most regions, and people have become weary of both the coronavirus and government measures aimed at limiting its spread and collateral impacts. Many people clamor for a return to “normal.” With the announcement in November 2020 that vaccine tests have shown promising results, it seems that a medical solution to the health pandemic could be a defining feature of the first few months of 2021.

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Tim Ingold


This article asks what part prehistory could play in establishing a posthumanist settlement, alternative to the humanism of the Enlightenment. We begin by showing how Enlightenment thinking split the concept of the human in two, into species and condition, establishing a point of origin where the history of civilization rises from its baseline in evolution. Drawing on the thinking of the thirteenth-century mystic, Ramon Llull, we present an alternative vision of human becoming according to which life carries on through a process of continuous birth, wherein even death and burial hold the promise of renewal. In prehistory, this vision is exemplified in the work of André Leroi-Gourhan, in his exploration of the relation between voice and hand, and of graphism as a precursor to writing. We conclude that the idea of graphism holds the key to a prehistory that not so much precedes as subtends the historic.

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“Rights of Things”

A Posthumanist Approach to Law?

Doris Schweitzer


We can identify a legal vanishing point within neo-materialist and posthumanist approaches—either explicitly, for example, when things are regarded as political actors or contractual partners; or implicitly, when authors hint at the anthropocentric limitations of the granting of rights to human beings. Conversely, “rights of things” appear as a posthumanist approach to law as they decentralize “the human.” But do “rights of things” actually surmount the strict divide between humans (persona) and nonhumans (res) within law? By referring to three empirical cases—animal rights, rights of nature, and robot rights—I will argue that “rights of things” do not necessarily push against the anthropocentrism of law. Rather, we can identify a re-centralization of humans within a given milieu. Thus, the critical impact of the concept “rights of things” must be reconsidered; furthermore, we can draw some conclusions for the theoretical approaches of New Materialism and Posthumanism itself.

Open access

Scratches on our sovereignty?

Analyzing conservation politics in the Sundarbans

Jayashree Vivekanandan


The article critically examines the conservation politics in a transboundary protected area (TBPA) in South Asia, the Sundarbans mangrove forests in Bangladesh and India. It explores the reasons why, despite collaborative measures by the two states, conservation has largely tended to conform to sovereignty practices, making it top-down and exclusionary. This makes the very demarcation of territory for protected areas an intensely political act with significant implications for social equity. The article examines the cultural politics of conservation since contestations to state power have often entailed the articulation of popular sovereignty in the Sundarbans. It argues that the social sustainability of conservation will critically hinge on how issues of resource access and governance are framed, negotiated, and addressed.


El artículo examina críticamente la política de conservación en el Área Protegida Transfronteriza (APT): los Sundarbans en Bangladesh e India. Explora por qué, a pesar de la colaboración bilateral, la conservación ha tendido en gran medida a ajustarse a prácticas de soberanía vertical y excluyente. La sola demarcación territorial de las APT, se convierte en un fuerte acto político con implicaciones significativas en la equidad social. El artículo examina la política cultural de la conservación, ya que las protestas al poder del Estado a menudo tienen implicaciones en la articulación de la soberanía popular en los Sundarbans. Argumenta que la sostenibilidad social de la conservación dependerá fundamentalmente de cómo se enmarquen, negocien y aborden las cuestiones de acceso a los recursos y su gobernanza.


L'article analyse de manière critique la politique de conservation dans une aire protégée transfrontalière (APT) en Asie du sud, la forêt des mangroves des Sundarbans au Bangladesh et en Inde. Il explore les raisons pour lesquelles, malgré les instruments de coopération entre les deux États, la conservation a adopté des pratiques de souveraineté étatique qui l'ont rendue verticale et exclusive. La démarcation du territoire des aires protégées est un acte profondément politique qui a des implications en matière d´égalité sociale. L'article examine la politique de conservation à travers des actes contestaires vis-à-vis du pouvoir étatique qui ont souvent favorisé une articulation de la souveraineté populaire dans les Sundarbans. Il met en évidence que la durabilité sociale de la conservation dépend de l'encadrement, de la négociation et de la promotion des thèmes d'accès aux ressources et de la gouvernance.

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The Alchemy of a Corpus of Underwater Images

Locating Carysfort to Reconcile our Human Relationship with a Coral Reef

Deborah James


Through an ecocinema lens, an unconventional corpus of photographs of Carysfort Reef, one of seven iconic coral reefs along the Florida Reef Tract, represents something of an extreme time-lapse series. In the absence of a cohesive underwater documentary record at the time when the Florida Reef Tract is undergoing the most extensive reef restoration in the world, speculation allows us to search for patterns in damaged places with incomplete information and practice a form of multispecies storytelling of our encounters. Taken in 1966, 2003, 2014, and 2019, these images are evidence of cultural moments in our changing relationship with this reef in the context of anthropocentrism, the emergence of an alternative environment spectatorship of awareness, and a baseline for localized social change.

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Artificial Intelligence

Faith in Machine or Man?

Jan Martijn Meij

Lovelock, James. 2019. Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

McKibben, Bill. 2019. Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? New York: Holt.