11/25/2012

Global Infrastructure | Keller Easterling ı The Geopolitics of Subtraction, Domus 963

While impatiently waiting for Keller Easterling's new piece, Extrastatecraft, I continue my investigation on this theoretician of architecture with a new piece, written by Keller Easterling for Domus magazine issue 963.
In this piece titled The Geopolitics of Subtraction, Keller Easterling explores what she calls a new counterintuitive economic model: the infrastructure of subtraction. The place: Yasuni National Park, Ecuador, known to be the most biologically place on earth… but also the place of unexploited reserves of 846 million barrels of oil. That is: a conflicted landscape.

[A]t Yasuni, another project further complicates the puzzle and mention of it brings all enthusiastic meetings about "being Yasunised" to an awkward silence. The Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA), a coalition of South American nations, plans to engineer a widened river channel that would allow freight to flow all the way to the Pacific, thus bypassing the Panama Canal and directly contacting shipping routes to Asia and the rest of the world. This Manta-Manaus multimodal corridor would connect the free zone port of Manaus on the Amazon River in Brazil with the Pacific port of Manta in Ecuador. The NAPO River although narrower than the Amazon, would receive westward traffic, thus saving 25 days of shipping time. There are plans to put an additional container port on the Napo en route just to the west of the Yasuni preserve. While the corridor is seen as the source of new business and new relationships with other countries in South America, this shortcut to China would draw containerships full of Brazilian goods through the middle of the Yasuni-ITT preserve and other forested areas on the Napo basin. The development engine — galvanised around a familiar tune — is already at work on the project.
This would be an extraordinary example of global collective action, that would allow not only reduce global warming, which benefits the whole planet, but also introduce a new economic logic for the 21st century, which assigns a value to things over than merchandise.
The president Rafael Correa said.


Originally appeared on College of Chemical & Life Sciences
The ITT oil block, the College of Chemical & Life Sciences said, is located in the easternmost corner of Ecuador's Amazon region, within Yasuni National Park, an area of 9,820 sq. km, between the Napo and Curaray rivers in Napo and Pastaza provinces in Amazonian Ecuador. This park is mostly a rain forest, and the home of 150 amphibian species, local-scale trees, bat species, birds and mammals.
Yet this area also is the subject of a series of threats from oil extraction to colonization, to deforestation and landscape degradation, particularly watersheds to illegal logging and hunting, to colonization due to road building, and so on.

Ecuador is one of a coalition of countries that have both tropical rain forests and oil — a block that may be changing the rules about resource extraction from developing countries. In Dubai in the 1970s, access to oil and gas resources was granted in return for an offset. Investors had to fund an auxiliary, non-oil industry led by a Dubai national that would augment the economy. The supposedly cast-iron logics of dominant forms of capital might characterise the offset as a pre-capitalist form of bargaining. Yet as countries like Ecuador exercise similar forms of leverage, they are perhaps creating a more ingrained habit of capital, one that recognises multiple markets and values where social contagions are a currency — one equal in importance to carbon credits or other financial vehicles. Since it was launched in 2010, the protocol has proven to be especially mediagenic, attracting the support and funding of movie stars and world leaders, and enough of the 3.5 billion to continue the project. In a world that can monetise anything, this mixes leftist politics with the fecundity of nature ad the symbolic capital of doing the right thing. At the Yasuni-ITT headquarters they even use a word that somehow substitutes monetise — "Yasunise."
Threats also are at any scale: from local, to regional, to, even, global scales.
Yet, at Yasuni, another project further complicates the puzzle and mention of it brings all enthusiastic meetings about "being Yasunised" to an awkward silence. The Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA), a coalition of South American nations, plans to engineer a widened river channel that would allow nations, plans to engineer a widened river channel that would allow freight to flow all the way to the Pacific, thus bypassing the Panama Canal and directly contacting shipping routes to Asia and the rest of the world. This Manta-Manaus on the Amazon River in Brazil with the Pacific port of Manta in Ecuador. The Napo River, although narrower than the Amazon, would receive westward traffic, thus saving 25 days of shipping time. There are plans to put an additional container port on the Napo en route just to the west of the Yasuni preserve. While the corridor is seen as the source of new business and new relationships with other countries in South America, this shortcut to China would draw containerships full of Brazilian goods through the middle of the Yasuni-ITT preserve and other forested areas on the Napo basin. The development engine — galvanised around a familiar tune — is already at work on the project.
Read the full article in the recent issue of Domus for a better understanding of Keller Easterling's concept "Infrastructure of subtraction" as this is a very complex but important issue at any scale: ecological, economic, social, environmental, infrastructural…



While writing this post, I am watching a lecture Keller Easterling presented at GSAPP Columbia University, in 2010. The title is Disposition. In this lecture, she examines a series of concepts around her favorite topic, global infrastructure, such as disposition, but also active form, quality, meaninglessness/irrationality, and so on. It's an interesting lecture for those of us with an interest on global infrastructure, and more broadly architecture and theory.

Credit video: Keller Easterling | Disposition || GSAPP, Columbia University

No comments:

Pageviews last month