In a ground-breaking legal claim, a Peruvian farmer is seeking to
hold a German energy company liable for climate change impacts. The lawsuit
makes climate change personal by shifting the political focus from global
dynamics to direct relations between natural and corporate persons.
Ethnographically tracing the claimant’s journey from the Peruvian Andes to the
German courts, this research shows how the restrictive legal framework excluded
other nonhuman persons such as Andean earth beings that provided motivation for
the claim. But despite their formal invisibility, the invocation of earth
beings provided public justification for a legal claim that garnered
international media attention. Both within and beyond formal legal frameworks,
nonhuman ecosystem persons can play a role in political discussions about
climate change. Building on work in anthropology and socio-legal studies, this research
argues that an attention to the politics of personhood in contemporary
environmental disputes can highlight the socio-material relations at stake,
opening discussions about new forms of political engagement.
Speakers and Presenters
Noah Walker-Crawford is a PhD Candidate in
Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, UK, and a former Visiting
Research Fellow at HKS's Program on Science, Technology
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Weatherhead Center for International Affairs; School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.