Annual Topic

Critical Engagements with Rights of Nature

This year’s annual topic, Listening for the Anthropo-not-seen, turns our attention to the silences and exclusions that not only extractivist, privatizing, and neoliberal economic models propel, but those that even progressive agendas for climate and environmental justice may perpetuate.  To this end, we have organized a series of events over the course of the academic year to dialogue about the limits and possibilities of rights of nature sentences and legal frameworks; to learn from decolonial and anticolonial science in practice; and to think more deeply about collaboration and care and their transformative potential in alliance-building, community engaged research, and political praxis.

In our November event, we pose a series of conversations about the potentials and limits that have emerged in diverse rights of nature (RON) rulings. Topics to be discussed include: the political, ethical, and juridical challenges involved in granting legal personhood to non-human beings and specific ecosystems, as well as lessons from Colombia, India, and the United States regarding climate jurisprudence activism and RON movements. Pre-circulated recorded conversations between anthropologists, lawyers, environmental activists, and community leaders will be followed by a virtual roundtable.

Image is by Abel Rodríguez (Mogaje Guihu), and elder from the Nonuya Indigenous group native to the Cahuinarí River of the Colombian Amazon. His work is grounded in ancestral knowledge of the plants of the region. He is a self-taught artist who began to depict the flora and fauna of the Amazon by memory after he and his family were displaced from the territory in the 1990s due to the country’s armed conflict. The above is part of his ink and watercolor series called ‘Seasonal changes in the flooded rain forest’.