The global lives of the orangutan
In recent years, conservationists have engaged in heated debates about how to respond to the challenges of ‘the Anthropocene’ – an era marked by the overwhelming influence of human activity on planetary processes and formations.
Our project explores how this debate is playing out in multiple, patchy and unpredictable ways in the context of the global nexus of orangutan conservation. It entails the first ever multi-sited ethnography of global orangutan conservation: a sprawling nexus of models, ideas, practices and human and nonhuman players spread across Borneo, Sumatra and the global North. Treating orangutan conservation as a contact zone between multiple players, ontologies, values and regimes of power and knowledge, we ask: How is conservation scaling up to engage with ‘the Anthropocene’? and How are ‘Anthropocenic’ phenomena and discourses experienced, (re)conceptualized or contested in specific conservation contexts?
By thinking through our ethnography, we seek to add empirical depth and nuance to emerging cross-disciplinary discussions about ‘the Anthropocene’ and to develop new theoretical and conceptual analytics for figuring both conservation and ‘the Anthropocene’ at a time of planetary change and crisis.
The people behind our research