“Reef Inc. : Dying Ecology and the Lure of Scientific Environments”
Damien Bright | PhD Candidate, Anthropology
Discussant: Kat Myers | PhD Student, Divinity School
Friday, March 12th, 12:00-1:20pm
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Paper Abstract: This chapter queries the proliferation of “environmental interventions” across Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, to alter manifold aspects of, as the expression goes, “the world’s largest living ecosystem.” In this text, the first half of the chapter, I examine how one intervention came to be: a robot designed to seek out, identify, and eliminate crown-of-thorns starfish. I show that intervention has an explanatory function in making new dimensions of global heating sensible if not alterable. This process bestows a research function on practices conventionally subordinate to the sciences of marine life and, at the same time, unsettles the idea of an environment in need of intervention in the first place. The second half of the chapter tracks the uptake of intervention by coral reef managers, who seek to make a general theory of intervention in order to direct and organize what coral reefs are to science and society in a world of radical unknowability..