Yesterday I touched down in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, home of Praba Pilar, the performance artist and para-ethnographer I recently posted about.
I’m here to participate in a two week Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute on Sustainable Urban Freight Systems (PASI-SUFS) split between Bogotá and Cartagena. Big thanks to José Holguín-Veras and the rest of the folks at the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation and the Environment (CITE) and the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations’ Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems (VREF CoE-SUFS – is it me or are the acronym’s growing bold, proliferating and getting longer?) for bringing me out here and catalyzing my first experiences in South America.
I’m currently writing up a presentation that will bring social science perspectives to the table. Something like this:
I will describe the basics of ethnographic research and share work to advance understanding of the structural positioning and perspectives of variously positioned stakeholders in environmental sustainability, using social science methods to strengthen our characterization of the social dimension of sustainability problems and solutions. I’ll describe how relevant stakeholders can be identified, characterized and interviewed to learn how they understand and work to address sustainability problems and needs for environmental governance. The presentation will include an interactive discussion to map relevant stakeholders in freight sustainability in different urban contexts, broadening our conceptualization and world views concerning the impacts of urban freight activity.
In the stakeholder analysis techniques presented here, special attention will be paid to vulnerable populations, groups and individuals that may sometimes be left out of the picture, or do not typically have a powerful voice in decisions that affect them. Any stakeholder analysis, like any map or story, will always leave some elements out of the frame, and this presentation will discuss some implications for these absences and explore issues of environmental justice and equity – such as uneven prevalence of pollution and environmental health problems like asthma and cancer – in the arena of urban freight transportation.
So many elements in my own frame right now. More soon on the other jostling things I find myself among and deeply affected by in this lively country.
Oh, and speaking of things (but when are we not?), check out Joe Dumit’s excellent “Writing the Implosion: Teaching the World One Thing at a Time,” available totalmente grátis from our friends at Cultural Anthropology, because that’s how they roll.