Figured worlds: Environmental complexity and affective ecologies in Fanjingshan, China


Aitkin, Stuart; An, Li

Journal or Book Title: Ecological Modelling

Keywords: environmental complexity; networks; relations; assemblages; affects

Volume/Issue: 299/March 24, 2012

Page Number(s): 5-15

Year Published: 2012


This paper takes environmental complexity to task by offering a way to understand the heterogeneity of an ecosystem in terms of its components’ relations rather than in terms of individuals (disaggregate) or wholes (aggregate). To do so, we use Escobar's notion of redes (networks) and Deleuze and Guattari's ideas about human/environment relations as they relate to understanding the practical, political and emotional complexities of change in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR), Guizhou Province, China. A critical issue in the reserve relates to the resource-use relations between local farmers and an endangered snub-nosed monkey species, Rhinopithecus brelichi. Deleuze and Guattari point to understanding complexity through affective ecologies, while Escobar's work is particularly useful in connecting local activism, eco-tourism, and community networks in an attempt to contest globalized hegemonic discourses that do not necessarily support sustainability at the local level. The 21,000 farmers within FNNR have an intimate knowledge of their local environment that derives from day-to-day living and, for some farmers, from generations living in a particular area. The paper discusses some of the actions of local farmers that are variously connected to, and emotionally charged around, sustainability and the preservation of the snub-nosed monkey.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.05.024

Type of Publication: Journal Article

Publisher: Elsevier