This literature review of biomimicry and related models of treating nature as a meta-resource on a mega-scale integrates concepts of resources and abundance. Biomimicry, which lies at the intersection of biosciences and industrial design, is a praxis for drawing on designs and processes found in nature and using them as inspirational sources for technologies. Environmental anthropology often focuses on processes such as extraction and commodification that position nature as governed by an economy of scarcity with its existential state characterized by attenuation. The paradigm of biomimicry, on the other hand, construes nature as an infinitely renewable and generative mega-resource and meta-resource, one that is governable by an economy of abundance rather than scarcity. This literature review analyzes intellectual and epistemological trends and frameworks that have served as precursors to and have emerged around biomimicry across disciplines that treat the paradigm of biomimicry as a highly variable epistemological object.
A Literature Review
Building on Existing Trends in Knowledge Production to Study the Copresence of Ecotourism and Extraction
Ecotourism is primarily perceived and studied as an alternative to resource extraction, even though increasingly the two coexist side by side in a nexus. This article investigates how such instances of copresence are marginalized in literatures about ecotourism and extraction, constituting a “blind spot“ in academic literature. An extensive literature review focuses on the existing knowledge trends and paradigms in the production of knowledge about ecotourism and extraction, and analyzes whether they contribute to the “blind spot“ or can be mobilized by the nexus perspective. Finally, the article briefly outlines two methodological approaches for studying ecotourism and extraction as a nexus.
Expanding Indigenous “Expertise” Beyond Ecoprimitivism
This article analyzes a series of litigations that began with the Aguinda v. Texaco Inc. case as a site of production of new legal subjectivities for indigenous communities in the region of the Ecuadorian Amazon polluted by oil extraction activities. They engage in the transnational and local legal structures, contribute to and generate legal and scientific knowledge and expertise, and articulate multiple legal subjectivities that position them not only as homogenous plaintiffs in a highly publicized lawsuit, but also as legal actors in complex relation to each other, and to the state. Through such engagements with this legal process, indigenous actors are recrafting their collective representations in ways that challenge the ‘ecoprimitive’ stereotypes of indigeneity, historically associated with the ‘paradox of primitivism.’
Indigenous ‘Oil Lawsuits’ as Sites of Order and Disorder Making
Lawsuits are representational arenas, as well as legal events. They serve as integrative spaces for power relations, symbolic orders, and moral economies. This article focuses on the ‘social lives’ of two lawsuits brought by indigenous communities to litigate issues arising from oil extraction on their territories: the Texaco lawsuit in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Beaver Lake Cree Nation lawsuit in Alberta, Canada. I analyze the narratives of indigeneity and modernity that they challenge, as well as their potential to order and disorder social fabrics beyond the legal sphere. I argue that lawsuits are ethnographic dramas that make visible how various social actors ‘order’ the world into categories, such as ‘value’, ‘modernity’, ‘commons’, and ‘sovereignty’, and in the process render legible the constructed nature of symbolic life.
Veronica Davidov, Danielle DiNovelli-Lang, James F. Weiner, Emily Yates-Doerr, Marissa Shaver, Bret Gustafson, Peter Cuasay, Andrew DeWit, Jeremy F. Walton, Christopher Krupa, David Lipset, Jerry Jacka, John Walker, John Johnson, Erik W. Davis, J. Brantley Hightower, Genese Marie Sodikoff, Heater E. Young-Leslie, Patrick Kaiku and Brock Ternes
DOVE, Michael R., Percy E. SAJISE, and Amity A. DOOLITTLE, eds., Beyond the Sacred Forest: Complicating Conservation in Southeast Asia
FIENUP-RIORDAN, Ann, and Alice REARDEN, Ellavut/Our Yup’ik World & Weather: Continuity and Change on the Bering Sea Coast
INGOLD, Tim, Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description
KINCHY, Abby, Seeds, Science, and Struggle: The Global Politics of Transgenic Crops
KNUDSEN, Stale, Fishers and Scientists in Modern Turkey: The Management of Natural Resources, Knowledge and Identity on the Eastern Black Sea Coast
LATTA, Alex, and Hannah WITTMAN, eds., Environment and Citizenship in Latin America: Natures, Subjects and Struggles
MCKINNON, Katharine, Development Professionals in Northern Thailand: Hope, Politics, and Practice
MORI, Akihisa, ed., Democratization, Decentralization and Environmental Governance in Asia, DURAIAPPAH, Anatha Kumar, Koji NAKAMURA, Kazuhiko TAKEUCHI, Masataka WATANABE, and Maiko NISHI, eds., Satoyama-Satoumi Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes of Japan
NAVARO-YASHIN, Yael, The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Postwar Polity
NIXON, Rob, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
OGDEN, Laura A., Swamplife: People, Gators and Mangroves Entangled in the Everglades
ROBINS, Nicholas A., Mercury, Mining, and Empire: The Human and Ecological Cost of Colonial Silver Mining in the Andes
SCHAAN, Denise P., Sacred Geographies of Ancient Amazonia: Historical Ecology of Social Complexity
SCOTT, Rebecca R., Removing Mountains: Extracting Nature and Identity in the Appalachian Coalfields
SHAH, Bindi, Laotian Daughters: Working toward Community, Belonging, and Environmental Justice
STEFANOVIC, Ingrid Leman, and Stephen Bede SCHARPER, eds., The Natural City: Re-Envisioning the Built Environment
WALSH, Andrew, Made in Madagascar: Sapphires, Ecotourism, and the Global Bazaar
WILLOW, Anna J., Strong Hearts, Native Lands: The Cultural and Political Landscape of Anishinaabe Anti-Clearcutting Activism
DIAMOND, Jared, The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
PABICH, Wendy J., Taking On Water: How One Water Expert Challenged Her Inner Hypocrite, Reduced Her Water Footprint (without Sacrificing a Toasty Shower) and Found Nirvana