Anomalous Alliances

April 23rd, 2016

Godofredo Pereira on the Yasuní-ITT initiative and the de-colonial possibilities of techno-scientific practices

Nature and Politics in the Yasuní Proposal

Techno-scientific practices of material classification are key to resource extraction: from the sampling of soils in the search for precious minerals to the sampling of microorganisms for medical purposes, material classification allows the conversion of every minute aspect of the Earth into a potential resource. In particular, geology and biology have provided the main tools through which the Earth is axiomatized, allowing it to enter multiple regimes of economic and financial calculation. Even if the classification of nature according to scientific frameworks is not necessarily related to the practice of resource extraction, it carries within itself a propensity for instrumentalization (numbering, classifying). In any case, the problem is not science per se, but the fact that its “eliminativist” mobilization—to paraphrase Stengers—has come to constitute “common sense” for how nature is to be understood. Thus, today, we are facing the important question: Is it possible to decolonize techno-scientific practices? The well-known case of Yasuní-ITT in Ecuador provides, in my view, a unique perspective from which we can start to discuss these problems.