Ecologies of expertise: “production” points of environmental mobilization in the Peruvian anchovy fishery, 1972-2000

Authors: Apollonya Porcelli*, Brown University
Topics: Environment
Keywords: Latin America, expertise, fisheries, social movements
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Galerie 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Environmental crises present a unique opportunity to understand that way that expertise is generated and reformulated to solve a given problem. Drawing upon the work of Gil Eyal (2013), I show that environmental crises require multi-sited and multi-sectoral "ecologies" of expertise, or networks, that fall along the very physical contours of an environmental space and corral an unusual cast of collaborators such as scientists, civilians, and politicians. My empirical analysis departs from the collapse of the Peruvian anchovy fishery in 1972, the largest fishery to date, and extends until its resurgence in the 1990s. In my larger project I examine four ecologies of expertise: open ocean, extraction, production, and commodity. For purposes of this presentation I focus on the point of production where coalitions of civilians and engineers formed a short-lived environmental movement that successfully circumnavigated the state to reduce pollution from fish-processing facilities through a series of technological fixes. Fisheries present a unique opportunity to conduct this analysis because they do not fit easily within a delineated geographic or political space, which problematizes traditional forms of knowledge production and governance. A fishery moves across ecological spaces—migrating between state-regulated waters and international zones—and it moves across conceptual barriers as well—from wild animal to a market commodity. My analysis therefore demonstrates the way that environment can shape knowledge production to accommodate both the material and epistemological challenges of complex environmental spaces. Second, this work illustrates how crises galvanize ephemeral networks of expertise comprised of a diverse cadre of actors.

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