Chakad Ojani

Short presentation

I am a social anthropologist working at the intersection between infrastructures and environments. My research is concerned with the socio-political possibilities that infrastructures enable and foreclose, as well as the practices of speculation that the infrastructure-environment nexus engenders. I am currently writing a monograph on fog capture in Peru.

Keywords

  • atmosphere
  • conservation
  • data
  • environment
  • ethnography
  • infrastructure
  • outer space
  • science fiction
  • speculation
  • sts
  • urban studies
  • water

Research

Oceans in the sky: Conservation, infrastructure, and ecologies of fog capture in coastal Peru

My current book project draws on twelve months of ethnographic research on material engagements with fog on the margins of the city of Lima and coastal Peru more broadly. The book examines the politics of contemporary urban and environmental relations in these places of aridity, where glacial retreat and rapid urban expansion raise concerns about water scarcity and the gradual disappearance of urban fog oasis ecosystems. I describe how a local NGO and a network of fog oasis conservationists tried to use the steady inflow of coastal fog as a potential water source. Of particular concern is how their different modes of engaging with fog were sometimes at odds with one another: whereas the NGO installed fog catchers for residents in informal or recently formalized neighborhoods, the conservationists harnessed ground-touching clouds in order to make those very same areas uninhabitable for informal squatters. In setting out to capture fog so as to attain their respective goals, my interlocutors became ensnared in one another’s activities, demands, and expectations. The book frames these relations as constitutive of an ecology of capture: an emergent web of relationships held together by conflicting aims and expectations, the possibilities and limits of fog capture, and the material qualities of fog itself.

Infrastructuring the extra-terrestrial, un-earthing anthropology: Sweden in the new space age

Over the past years, Sweden has begun to expand its sounding rocket range with a view to develop small satellite launch capability. The Swedish space strategy is symptomatic of broader, speculative engagements with the extra-terrestrial as a domain for projection, experimentation, and infrastructural possibility, able to support and/or limit human life on Earth. This is evident not least in how orbital space has emerged as a key arena for addressing contemporary planetary challenges such as climate change. Meanwhile, a growing private space industry has started to push former government-centred paradigms towards opening up a free-market space frontier. However, with the increasing reliance on post-terrestrial infrastructures, orbital debris and geomagnetic storms present new risks to critical, ground-based infrastructures. My project takes these developments as an impetus to explore the making and reshaping of (extra-)planetary ecologies through various forms of infrastructural mediation. Specifically, I examine the discursive, material, and speculative practices whereby environments both on and off Earth become reimagined and modified amid burgeoning efforts geared towards the infrastructuring of Earth orbit and beyond. In attending to these processes, my project ultimately seeks to elucidate the possibilities and limitations of a geocentric politics of environment and climate change.

Publications

Selection of publications

Recent publications

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Chakad Ojani

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