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Nature, Technology and Violence on the Rio Grande

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Abstract:

This paper addresses the science and politics of climate change in New Mexico. Current climate modeling predictions forecast drier and hotter winters for New Mexico, suggesting that the primary renewable source of water, winter snowfall, will become increasingly scarce. As this scarcity threatens confidence in economic growth, recent policy oriented public-private research collaborations in New Mexico have targeted the state’s population and resources for value extraction in efforts to unlock future growth. This paper questions the assumptions inherent in the science, politics, and economics circulating through these current governmental initiatives. I focus on two particular projects targeting water and chile (capsicum annuum) to elucidate the biopolitical nature of these research initiatives. I argue that these knowledge productions and enclosures of indigenous resources are best understood in the context of New Mexico’s violent history of racialized colonial dispossession and current location within the U.S. security state.

In 2004, the New Mexico State Legislature passed the Active Water Resource Management (AWRM) initiative, which authorized the State Engineer to install a system of meters and remote-controlled gates on irrigation ditches that supply New Mexico’s farms. The system was designed through collaboration between University of New Mexico and University of Chicago School of Public Policy economists, computer modelers from Sandia National Laboratories, and the Office of the State Engineer. AWRM provides the legal and material infrastructure to enable real-time remote quantification and management of stream water in order to facilitate efficient allocation within emerging water markets. In 2008, promising to unlock the potential to “feed the world”, the New Mexico State legislature funded a public/private partnership between Monsanto Corp. subsidiaries and New Mexico State University to produce genetically engineered varieties of chile, which has been cultivated by indigenous farmers millennia. Both of these efforts have been contested by a coalition of NGO and activist organizations, indigenous tribes, and political subdivisions of the state that are controlled by the state’s Hispano and Chicano farmer’s. These coalition politics precariously negotiate decolonial possibilities for resource governance and social movements in the U.S. and globally.

This paper outlines a methodology for the writing of critical natural histories of the present. Water markets and GE chile are not the inevitable outcome of evolutionary or historical processes. I trace their production through the violent white supremacy that animated nineteenth century U.S. logics of colonization and imperialism into the ostensibly objective knowledge production practices that undergird contemporary uneven geographies. By making this argument, I hope to intervene in the U.S. imperialist politics that overdetermine the impossibility of other worlds.
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Association:
Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509881_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Markwell, Sam. "Nature, Technology and Violence on the Rio Grande" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509881_index.html>

APA Citation:

Markwell, S. "Nature, Technology and Violence on the Rio Grande" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509881_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: This paper addresses the science and politics of climate change in New Mexico. Current climate modeling predictions forecast drier and hotter winters for New Mexico, suggesting that the primary renewable source of water, winter snowfall, will become increasingly scarce. As this scarcity threatens confidence in economic growth, recent policy oriented public-private research collaborations in New Mexico have targeted the state’s population and resources for value extraction in efforts to unlock future growth. This paper questions the assumptions inherent in the science, politics, and economics circulating through these current governmental initiatives. I focus on two particular projects targeting water and chile (capsicum annuum) to elucidate the biopolitical nature of these research initiatives. I argue that these knowledge productions and enclosures of indigenous resources are best understood in the context of New Mexico’s violent history of racialized colonial dispossession and current location within the U.S. security state.

In 2004, the New Mexico State Legislature passed the Active Water Resource Management (AWRM) initiative, which authorized the State Engineer to install a system of meters and remote-controlled gates on irrigation ditches that supply New Mexico’s farms. The system was designed through collaboration between University of New Mexico and University of Chicago School of Public Policy economists, computer modelers from Sandia National Laboratories, and the Office of the State Engineer. AWRM provides the legal and material infrastructure to enable real-time remote quantification and management of stream water in order to facilitate efficient allocation within emerging water markets. In 2008, promising to unlock the potential to “feed the world”, the New Mexico State legislature funded a public/private partnership between Monsanto Corp. subsidiaries and New Mexico State University to produce genetically engineered varieties of chile, which has been cultivated by indigenous farmers millennia. Both of these efforts have been contested by a coalition of NGO and activist organizations, indigenous tribes, and political subdivisions of the state that are controlled by the state’s Hispano and Chicano farmer’s. These coalition politics precariously negotiate decolonial possibilities for resource governance and social movements in the U.S. and globally.

This paper outlines a methodology for the writing of critical natural histories of the present. Water markets and GE chile are not the inevitable outcome of evolutionary or historical processes. I trace their production through the violent white supremacy that animated nineteenth century U.S. logics of colonization and imperialism into the ostensibly objective knowledge production practices that undergird contemporary uneven geographies. By making this argument, I hope to intervene in the U.S. imperialist politics that overdetermine the impossibility of other worlds.


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Theorizing Violence from an Eco-Center: Ecofeminism, “Nature” and Violence

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