Dr. Jason Cons
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Date: Friday, October 26, 2018 Time: 12:00PM – 2:00PM Venue: AP246, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto
Abstract: This talk offers an ethnographic engagement with the present and futures of Bangladesh’s southwest delta. The southwest—which houses the Sundarbans, the world’s largest remaining mangrove forest—is at once profoundly vulnerable to climate change and a site critical to Bangladesh’s economic development. It figures thus both as a space of optimistic industrial growth and planetary threat. I explore what I call delta temporalities—the dissonant and possibly incommensurate imaginations of the future, and more importantly the projects seeking to bring them about, that proliferate in and shape the delta’s fragile ecology in the present. Tracing tensions between conservation initiatives, dredging projects that attempt to keep rivers flowing for shipping and transportation, and new industrial and energy infrastructure projects, this talk reveals how and why the southwest—and deltas more broadly—have become key chokepoints of the Anthropocene, zones where the future itself becomes blocked and the present imperiled.
Speaker: Dr. Jason Cons works on borders in South Asia, climate and agrarian change, and rural development. He has conducted extensive research in Bangladesh on a range of issues including: climate security, disputed territory along the India-Bangladesh border, the impacts of shrimp aquaculture in coastal areas, the politics of development, and recipient experiences with microcredit. His current research is situated in the Sundarbans region and explores the ways that imaginations of the impacts of future climate change are shaping the delta and the India-Bangladesh border in the present. His first book, Sensitive Space: Anxious Territory at the India-Bangladesh Border, was published by the University of Washington Press in 2016. His work has appeared in Cultural Anthropology, Political Geography, Modern Asian Studies, Ethnography, SAMAJ, Antipode, Third-World Quarterly, and The Journal of Peasant Studies. He is also an associate editor of the journal South Asia. He is the editor, with Michael Eilenberg, of a volume titled Frontier Assemblages: The Emergent Politics of Resource Frontiers in Asia for Wiley’s Antipode Book Series and is co-editing a special issue if Limn on “chokepoints.”