CE03 - Interactions Humains-Environnement

Accidents, malfunctions and downtime. Another view of extractive territories – INTERRUPTIONS

Submission summary

INTERRUPTIONS examines newly-mechanized societies relationship to the environment in South American territories under extractivist constraint, through the study of how accidents, malfunctions and downtime fashion landscapes, technicities and society. The advancement of extractivist fronts into indigenous territories in South America has normally been understood as a linear movement consisting of the integration and global standardization of populations and ecosystems that were previously peripheral and heterogeneous. However, these territories are characterized by a large number of accidents, shocking to those on the ground but unattended to by administrations, and which often take place in informal contexts and among populations that are newly-mechanized (women, children, indigenous peoples). Similarly, the operation of extractive industries in these remote and poorly regulated contexts is frequently interrupted by social flux (road blockages, strikes, etc.), technical contingencies (breakdowns, malfunctions, etc.) or environmental hazards (floods, earthquakes, fires, etc.) that cause frequent time spent idling. These different forms of interruptions are the root causes of detours, handiwork repairs or bypassing methods, which can be hypothesized as shaping these territories as much as public policies or the actions of dominant actors (companies, the State, etc.). South America’s extractive landscapes are thus scattered with accidents and roadside memorials, with daily life punctuated by time spent idling or waiting, and scarred landscapes. These breakdowns and accidents, which are rarely studied, have been partially approached through the prism of road safety and accident-prevention policies. INTERRUPTIONS studies accidents, malfunctions and forms of downtime as processes that fashion space, technology and society. It considers two large South American territories under extractivist constraint, the Southern Andes and the Gran Chaco, through three research axes: 1) Accidents as fashioning landscape and memory studies the documentary, memorial, ethnographic and material traces of breakdowns and accidents in indigenous territories as re-elaborations of relationships to death, time and nature; 2) The technicities and affordances of malfunctions focuses on forms of repair and the maintenance of mechanical devices outside of formal circuits, affordances and norms of intended use; 3) The life of downtime and the social agency of interruptions examines how interruptions and downtime shape social, gender, ethnic-based and intergenerational relationships, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. INTERRUPTIONS is supported by three large laboratories (CREDA, Mondes Américains and PRODIG), which share a common location on the Campus Condorcet and bring together a young, gender-equal, multidisciplinary and international team with long-term experience in South American fields. The project envisages the recruitment of 3 post-docs and is organized around 4 work-packages regrouping the different tasks of ethnographic, spatial and historical research that will nourish the virtual platform INTERRUPTIONS, which will be both a tool for and result of the project. The project contains a risk management strategy and an ethics and gender-parity monitoring system. In addition to the expected scientific impact of this novel and high-potential research, it will raise awareness among local administrations about the importance of identifying and preventing occupational and traffic injuries in indigenous contexts. The main deliverables of this project are: i) a permanent seminar at the Campus Condorcet; ii) the platform and virtual museum INTERRUPTIONS: Another view of extractive territories; iii) three workshops and a final colloquium giving rise to three thematic dossiers and one collective publication; iv) ten collective articles in international journals; v) an ERC or H2020 relay project that will be presented.

Project coordination

Nicolas Richard (Centre de recherche et de documentation des Amériques)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Mondes Américains
CREDA Centre de recherche et de documentation des Amériques
PRODIG Pôle de recherche pour l'organisation et la diffusion de l'information géographique
Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú / Departamento de Antropología
MAI - CAV/MdB Indigenous Art Museum in the Museo del Barro
Universitá di Bolonia / Dipartimento di Storia Culture Civiltà
Universidad de Chile / Departamento de Antropología
Universidad Católica del Norte / Instituto de Arqueología y Antropología
Universidad Mayor de San Marcos / Departamento de antropología
CIHA Centro de investigaciones históricas y antropológicas

Help of the ANR 595,246 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2021 - 48 Months

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