Moderator Blog Post by: Daniel Macfarlane
The panel on “Nature and Politics” featured two papers: “Confronting the Tragic City: The Impacts of the 1970 Earthquake and the Peruvian Revolution in Chimbote, Peru” by Nathan Clarke and “Fishing at Karluk: Nature, Technology, and the Creation of the Karluk Reservation in Territorial Alaska” by Anjuli Grantham.
Moderated by Daniel Macfarlane, this panel got off to a bit of a slow start, as some technical difficulties meant we didn’t have all the participants in the group at the scheduled start time. However, two people were able to join in during the first discussion. One scheduled participant had to bow out because of illness, and another failed to come online, and we ended up with 6 participants that, in addition to the aforementioned moderator and presenters, included Gregory Rosenthal, Robin O’Sullivan, and Elsa Devienne.
Nathan’s paper was first up for consideration. His paper looked at the attempts to rebuild and reorganize the city of Chimbote, Peru after the disastrous 1970 earthquake (which killed over 70,000 people) and in light of the Peruvian Revolution. This involved charting the means by which the Peruvian state used the opportunity provided by this natural disaster to attempt to turn Chimbote into an orderly industrial and port city.
Nathan – an Assistant Professor at Minnesota State University Moorehead who is originally from the Vancouver area – relayed that his paper built on work he had done years earlier as a PhD student which he had reworked for this e-conference. Stating that it was a work-in-progress, he asked for feedback on possible forms of publication. The group threw out some ideas, and Gregory, among others, postulated that it could serve as the basis for a future monograph.
Anjuli’s paper examined salmon fishing at Karluk, Alaska. Anjuli looks at the role of technology and the creation of racially and technologically exclusive fishing areas. Engaging envirotech literature, this paper delves into tensions between the different types of seines (beach and boat) as well as differing ethnic and socio-economic groups.
Anjuli’s paper was based on her M.A. thesis (which she has parlayed into a recently-started job that engages her research topic at Baranov Museum!) and she is hoping to turn this into a journal article. The group thought she was well on her way to doing so, and Anjuli asked if there were parts that could be pruned. Some suggestions were forthcoming, notably from Elsa. Both Elsa and Robin pointed out the ways that both papers intersect with themes from gender and ethnic history.
Both papers mentioned James Scott and high modernism, which led to some discussion on that topic in the western and historical context. The role of the state was also a theme in both papers, particularly in connection with technology, industry, and resource extraction.
There was fairly even participation, and things went smoothly in terms of avoiding talking over each other or interruptions. Some use was made of the instant chat function. There was little in the way of stalling or technical difficulties. The participants seemed to think it was a satisfying experience, and it appears that the authors received useful feedback.