Lisa Avron

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Cornell U.

Grant number

Gr. 9516

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Avron, Lisa A., Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Predicting Florida's Environmental Futures: Risk, Boundaries, and the Ethics of Multiplicity,' supervised by Dr. Sara Pritchard

This research considers two toxic risks to Floridian human, animal, and wetland eco-systems: the first, a proposed increase in allowances for industrial pollution in surface water based on digital risk simulation and, the second, salt-water toxifying all available water resources by 2050 according to climate change predictors. Given the sheer ‘multiplicity’ and interconnection of Florida’s webs of life, the crux of predictions rests in how different actors bound variables that enter simulations of Floridian environmental futures. Further, how different actors bound variables depends on how they know and live with local environments — where vulnerable bodies end and toxic rivers begin or measuring flooding in terms of individual days rather than a series of interconnected events, as examples. Crucially, these boundaries and their resulting knowledge claims often betray, not ‘objective’ perspectives, but a variety of ethical frameworks that matter critically for definitively marking who and what is vulnerable in Florida today and in the future. To wit, people in varying positions of power–city counselors, ecologists, Miami’s Little Haiti community, Sierra Club members–build, often competing, understandings of Florida’s environmental futures, not for differential access to objective knowledge, but for the different ways they bound variables that enter predictions in the first place, bounding being a clear manifestation of differing environmental histories that inform differing ethical decision making. This research builds on the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s legacy, contributing to critical, relevant themes resonating in broader anthropological theory today: toxicity and risk, entanglements and multiplicity, and critical theories of knowledge production.