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Spectacular Resources: Geographies of Environmental Spectacle and Speculation II

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Organizers: Jenny Goldstein, Andrea Marston, David Kneas
Chairs: Andrea Marston


The provisioning of natural resources has always entailed combinations of spectacle and speculation. Cultural spectacles help ascribe value and meaning to modes of resource extraction and the futures they portend (Coronil 1997; Apter 2005). Before natural resources can be explored, extracted, and commodified, their potential must be convincingly performed to attract initial investors. Drawing inspiration from Anna Tsing’s concept of “spectacular accumulation” (2000) and Guy Debord’s notion of “spectacle as a social relation among people, mediated by images” (1967/2005: 18), this paper session seeks to make explicit the connections between spectacle and speculation. We consider how spectacles become the medium through which speculators conjure resource potential, and how resource speculation contributes to the construction of spectacular resource futures (Watts 2004). Through its exploration of spectacular resource geographies, this panel calls attention to the productive (and sometimes conflicting) ways that the value of nature is “made visible” by financial analysts, corporations, prospectors, government institutions, and community members, among others.
We invite papers that explore topics related (but not limited) to: the temporalities and spatialities of speculation in extractive, mineral, energy, forestry, land, water, or other material resources (Huber 2019); the role of visibility and visualization in the performance of resource value; the technologies and practices that conceal and/or reveal resources (Perkins and Dodge 2009); how resource spectacles circulate and reproduce; how big data, digital technologies, and data infrastructures are transforming resource spectacles; how ownership claims on resources are made through spectacles of belonging; and how speculation might be reimagined as an ongoing or recurrent part of resource-making.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Rebecca McMillan*, University of Toronto, Spectacular failures: Water infrastructure, hegemony, and Venezuela’s “magical state” 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Clare Beer*, University of California, Los Angeles, Big Philanthropy, Big Conservation: Spectacularizing Nature in Chilean Patagonia 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Allison Caine*, University of Michigan, Mountain, Mine, or Meme: the International Spectacle of Rainbow Mountain, Peru 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Lauren Pearson*, University of California - Berkeley, The botanic spectacle and botanical speculation in and across imperial gardens 15 12:00 AM

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