ICS Seminar - 9 March 2023

Salvage Economies

Panelists: John Frow, Ruth Lane and Sebastien Ureta

Chair: Gay Hawkins

Abstract: Salvage Economies is the third panel in the Future Extractivism series organised by the Automated Worlds and Environment and Technology research programs. It explores the dynamics of extractivism at the edges of capitalism. Generating value from discarded materials challenges the idea of resources as ‘raw’, as dormant matter passively awaiting extraction and valuation. In the work of salvage, and the myriad forms it takes, value is not so much extracted as provoked.

Ruth Lane (Associate Professor of Human Geography, Monash University)

'Reclaiming manufactured materials through urban mining and product stewardship: sites, logics and actors'

To what extent does the idea of a ‘prospecting logic’ help to understand the collection and recycling of manufactured goods and materials? Two quite different examples – the recovery and reuse of steel in Australian buildings and efforts to develop a product stewardship scheme for bedding in Australia will be examined in order to understand how a prospecting logic manifests alongside other logics involved in valorising manufactured materials as resources.

Sebastián Ureta (Associate Professor at Departamento de Sociología, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile)

'Worlds of Gray and Green: Mineral Extraction as Ecological Practice'

The Anthropocene has arrived riding a wave of pollution. Using ethnographic material collected at Chile's El Teniente - the world's largest underground mine - I explore the ways in which mine tailings engage with human and non-human entities in multiple ways through processes of geosymbiosis. A particular kind of power emerges in this process, one that is radically indifferent to human beings but that affects them in many ways. Learning to live with geosymbiosis offers a tentative path forward amid ongoing environmental devastation.

John Frow (Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Sydney)

'Constructing Value from Ecosystem Services: The Case of Wetlands Mitigation'

The first decades of the twenty-first century have seen an exponential increase in the use of capital markets and financial instruments that seek to valorise the economic risks of climate change. In this paper I describe the construction of markets trading in the mitigation of destroyed wetlands in the United States in order to examine some of the ways in which the abstract equivalence posited between environmental destruction and replacement terrain becomes a new source of financial value.

Event Details

Date & Time: Thursday, 9 March 2023, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Venue: Room: EB.3.21, Parramatta South Campus