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2013 Fall Colloquium Series

Andreas Thiel (September 20, 2013)

Title: Towards understanding the scalar re-organisation of natural resource governance: factors derived from water governance in Spain, Portugal and Germany

Abstract: Recently, what this presentation calls the scalar organisation of water governance has significantly transformed, in Europe because of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) but also worldwide. First a framework for explaining this phenomenon will be presented and second it will be ilustrated by applying it to three cases of scalar reorganisation of water governance in Europe. The framework relies on a combination of theories of institutional change in order to do justice to the different perspectives actors involved into the management and use of water (water transactions) bring to bear on the organisation of its governance. It is argued that such a conceptual framework allows to address two kinds of explanation of the way water governance is organised: a) it may be the outcome of actors’ pursuance of individual gains (interest driven explanation), b) it may be the outcome of actors’ striving for the most cost effective way of organising resource governance (functionalist explanation). Implicit in these conceptions the role of changes in actors’ perceptions and mental models are considered with regard to water governance on the one hand, and changes in water use patterns and perceptions in regard to their regulation on the other. Subsequent application of the analytical framework to the cases of Spain, Portugal and Germany based on extensive qualitative field work allows developing first elements of a theory of processes of scalar organisation. It is concluded that changes in the interrelated value of the resources and technologies of production and exclusion shaped preferred outcomes of specific actors and their mental models. These have been complemented by changes in interrelated institutions and changes in ideologies. Altogether, these factors change the perceived (transaction) costs and benefits of specific governance arrangements. However, these are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for scalar reorganisation of water governance. What actor groups perceive as beneficial to their ends from a cost-benefit point of view changes but also differs for their specific institutional environment. In order to make changes in what actor groups hold as preferable means and ends effective in changes in competencies, it is necessary for the corresponding actors to be able to bring their positions to bear on negotiations in action situations of constitutional or legislative choice.

Bio: Professor Andreas Thiel is Einstein Junior Fellow and temporarily appointed as Professor of Environmental Governance, heading a research group in this topic. He is an economist and spatial planner by training and holds a Ph.D. from Oxford Brookes University, School of the Built Environment. He has been Visiting Fellow at Technical University of Lisbon, University of Lisbon, University of Seville and Indiana University, Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. His habilitation addresses the topic: Developing Institutional Economics for the Analysis of Social-ecological Systems. Research focused on a) the transformation of governance of the water and land use nexus in the European Union, with specific focus on the Iberian peninsula and Germany, b) the role of expertise and modeling tools in European Impact Assessment procedures, c) wildlife management and d) renewable energies. His current interests address the way society and individuals organize individuals’ and collective interaction and interdependence mediated by SES, and their transformation

Neil Pederson (October 4, 2013)

Title: Surprises in Broadleaf Forests from the Ancient Past: Prologue for Future Climate Change?

Abstract: Broadleaf-dominated forests, like those in the heart of Indiana and the Midwestern US, climate and forest dynamics are considered to be fairly stable and somewhat resistant to climatic change. Semi-arid forests, like those in the western US, in contrast, are known to be less stable in time because of a higher amount of climatic variability. From work arising from a wide range of collaborations, I will show new tree-ring research that indicates the forests of the eastern US might be less stable than previously thought and that the eastern US has been undergoing a substantial climatic shift that might be already quietly altering forests and impacting culture.

Biography: Dr. Neil Pederson is a Lamont Assistant Research Professor at the Tree Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University. He was previously an assistant professor at Eastern Kentucky University and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2005. Neil’s research interests are centered on trees, ecosystems, and old-growth forests at the intersection of climate change, ecology, conservation biology, natural history, forest management and charismatic megaflora. He conducts basic and applied research to gain information that can help ecologically-based, long-term management plans. Neil has on-going research across the eastern US, in Turkey, the Republic of Georgia, and Mongolia.

Shahzeen Attari (October 11, 2013)

Title: Public perceptions and biases related to energy and water consumption

Abstract: Understanding the relationship between human behavior and resource use is vital. In this presentation, I summarize a study where participants reported their perceptions of energy consumption for a variety of household activities. When asked for the single most effective strategy they could implement to conserve energy, most participants mentioned curtailment (e.g., turning off lights) rather than efficiency improvements (e.g., installing more efficient light bulbs), in contrast to experts’ recommendations. Participants had small overestimates for low-energy consuming activities and large underestimates for high-energy consuming activities. When asked to recommend energy conservation strategies—individuals want to incorporate easier non-effective behaviors for themselves and want others to implement harder more-effective behaviors. My new research investigates public perceptions of water use and savings to understand if similar misperceptions and biases hold.

Bio: Shahzeen Attari's research focuses on the psychology of resource consumption. Her work aims to identify factors that promote resource conservation. Her paper entitled “Public perceptions of energy consumption and savings” published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences has been summarized in a variety of venues, including The Economist, New York Times, CNN, and BBC. She is an assistant professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Earth Institute and the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University. She holds a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering & Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelors of Science in Engineering Physics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Javier Leon (October 25, 2013)

Title: Cultural Resources, Music and Nation Branding: Afro-Peruvian Electronica from Lima to the World

Abstract: For the past decade, a change has been taking place in regards to how Peruvians in the Lima regard local popular and vernacular forms of music and music making. After years of generally dismissing these musical forms as quaint, provincial and lacking in sophistication, younger generations of jazz, rock, and electronica musicians have come to re-valuate them for their potential to create new hybrid forms that musically and visually signal the emergence of an increasingly cosmopolitan and multicultural Peru. This shift has been paralleled and informed by Peru’s free market boom of the 2000s, leading to the majority of these projects to be conceptualized as creative partnerships between musicians from different musical, social and ethnic backgrounds deemed to embody the entrepreneurial and creative spirit of neoliberalism. This paper examines one such musical collaboration, the Afro-Peruvian electronica group Novalima, seeking to problematize the apparent egalitarian quality that many advocates of neoliberalism project onto these types of partnerships. In particular, it explores how the redefinition of Afro-Peruvian music as a cultural resource to be successfully “mined” and transformed is predicated on the existence of multiple neoliberal subjectivities that reinforce rather than challenge enduring social and economic disparities among different sectors of Peruvian society.

Biography: Javier F. León is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. His research interests include music and cultural rights, cultural policy, intangible cultural heritage initiatives, the impact of neoliberal logics and economic reforms on music and music-making, and the relationship of the state to minority music-making communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. His work has primarily focused on Afro-descendant and creole musics in the Peruvian costal region and has been published in Latin American, Music Review, the Black Music Research Journal, Ethnomusicology Forum, and the volume Music and Cultural Rights edited by Andrew Weintraub and Bell Yung. He is also editor of a Special Issue on Music and Neoliberalism of the journal Culture, Theory and Critique and co-editor of the upcoming volume Studies in Latin American Music published by the University of Illinois Press.

Pamela Martin (November 8, 2013)

Title: Dietary choices and global warming

Abstract: There is intense, growing interest in the long-term sustainability of the food and agriculture system within the United States. Dietary choices can place a significant role in the environmental impact of food and agriculture.  How our food is grown (buy organic?), where our food is grown (eat local?), and what we eat (Meatless Monday?) can all affect the size of our environmental footprint.  In this talk, I will compare and quantify some of the impacts associated with dietary choices, with a particular focus on the energy use and greenhouse gas   emissions associated with meat consumption.

Biography: Pamela Martin is an associate professor in Earth Sciences and Geography at IUPUI.  She was previously an assistant professor at the University of Chicago and received her Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Barbara.  Pamela is trained as a geochemist and her research interests are divided between the diverse areas of past climate change and environmental impact of food and agriculture.  The latter topic, which will be the focus of her talk, stemmed from a long-term interest in the environment and climate.  She has on-going research associated with localizing and regionalizing the food system and toward this end is collecting information on energy use and yields from urban and rural diversified farms in the midwest.

Rohan D’Souza (November 15, 2013)

Title: Has the Reptile trumped the Amphibian? The political limits of the large dam in South Asia

Abstract: Through the course of the nineteenth century, South Asia was introduced to an unprecedented range of modern hydraulic interventions and experiences. A period in which rivers were quantified as units of flow, disclosed through modern engineering visions for comprehensive control and sought to be repeatedly harnessed by technological fixes. This ‘great hydraulic transition’ was effectively premised on the attempted separation of land and water ¾ as two distinct non-overlapping natural domains. While land became property, water was valued as irrigation. Whereas soil was invested with the permanence of ownership, fickle rivers were meant to be harnessed only as resource. Revenue as legal claim and water cess as economic charge were then re-united under new technical conditions for agrarian cultivation and yet sustained as distinct elemental factors of nature.

It was also a time rife with struggles to contain rivers within their channels and efforts to shut them off from recurrent tendencies for seasonal overflow, wild oscillations, avulsions, rapid channel alteration and soaking inundations. By the early twentieth century, flood control through Multi-Purpose River Valley development (the large dam) became the technical means to force land and flow separations. But has the large dam in South Asia actually trumped the world of admixtures, relentless erosion and alluvial rearrangement? How should we assess those amphibian pasts and the short history of the reptile? Has the forced ‘separations’ become a political crises about environmental limits? In other words, is the large dam in South Asia really about imaginations over land and flow translations?

Biography: Dr. Rohan D’Souza is Assistant Professor at the Center for Studies in Science Policy at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. His M.A., M.Phil., and PhD are all from the Center for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. His interests and research publications span themes in environmental history, conservation, ecological politics, sustainable development and modern technology. Dr. D'Souza is the author of Drowned and Dammed (2006), a book that examines the intertwined rhythms of colonial capitalism and deltaic flood regimes. He is author of numerous book chapters and journal articles, and his edited books include The British Empire and the Natural World (2011), and Environment, Technology and Development: Critical and Subversive Essays (2012). Dr. D’Souza has held postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University and UC-Berkeley, and has also been senior research associate at the Center for World Environmental History at the University of Sussex. Most recently, he has served as a Visiting Fellow at UPenn's Center for the Advanced Study of India.