Preliminary abstract: In Indonesia, 'sound' has long been designated as a resource for observing the effects of environmental transformation and the development of global science. In 1883, a volcanic eruption in West Java produced the 'loudest sound ever recorded' leading to the discovery of 'infrasound' as barometric pressure swelled around the world (Symonds, 1883). Today in Indonesia, field ecologists assess and archive sound in regions vulnerable to deforestation, teams of engineers remotely listen to oceanic and volcanic activity, and geologists use acoustics to measure regional climate histories from deep within the earth. In each case, sound is detected and recorded as a form of information to model how conceptions of the environment and its history are determined. At the same time, the density of these practices in Indonesia, and the geophysical landscape in which they take place, inform more global concerns of environmental risk and the need to understand these concerns from an anthropological perspective. The purpose of this project is to investigate how scientists and technicians in Indonesia and the local people with whom they work, inscribe vibration and energy in the earth, atmosphere, and forest into forms of sound to understand what constitutes environmental change. It asks, how do these social and technical practices produce sound from the earth, atmosphere, and forest? How do these observations figure as information to demonstrate the nature of environmental transformation? And how do these practices to make sound shape global science, history, and planning from a regional perspective?
Preliminary abstract: As new roads gradually reach the Myanmar Himalaya, local communities are being brought into a growing global market: the Chinese medicine trade. Chinese medicine is becoming more popular around the world, but the global supply chains that bring consumers its valuable wild herbs and drugs are raising international alarm. Informal harvest markets, often hailed as new 'gold rushes,' are not only pushing many medicinal species into endangerment, but also appear to have tumultuous effects on local communities, with reports of turf wars and murders over rare roots and fungi. At the same time, stories of harvesters scavenging medicines from clear-cuttings long after the logging industry has moved on question whether the medicine market is a force of disturbance or merely a livelihood that grows out of the ruins of others. Investigating the Myanmar Himalaya as a frontier for this economy, my project asks what is the role of ecological and social disturbance in the Chinese medicine trade? To find out, I will join the local community that many allege 'run' the expanding market, the Lisu, as they negotiate borderland forests increasingly shaped by rogue logging projects and conservation efforts. I not only look at how their harvest activities create and utilize different disturbance environments, but also the role that local practices and knowledge of shifting agriculture, popularly known as 'slash-and-burn,' plays in acquiring medicines from this changing landscape. At the same time, I will attend to how Lisus form and maintain a community supply chain amidst the economic and social volatilities that have accompanied increasing infrastructure in the region: labor emigration and boom-bust resource extraction economies.