11 April 2024

Technologies of Ecological Mediation: Ethical Conflicts over Environment and Imagined Future in Bali

Science & Technologies Studies cover Associate Professor Birgit Bräuchler has recently published the article 'Technologies of Ecological Mediation: Ethical Conflicts over Environment and Imagined Future in Bali'.
Later in the year, the article will be published in a special issue of the journal, Science & Technologies Studies.

Different world views and ontologies require different technologies to deal with environmental issues. Land reclamation plans in Bali’s south, meant to open up new space for tourist development, triggered strong but varied responses in the Balinese population, from rejection to enthusiasm. All actors claim to aim towards a prosperous Bali, and at the protection of a degrading environment, but notions of prosperity and protections and the means and technologies used differ tremendously which leads to ethical conflicts.

In her article, Birgit Bräuchler identifies three actor groups based on the technologies they use to mediate relationships in the ecologies they inhabit.

Drawing on modern interventionist technology and development and implied universal moralities, scientists aim to manage environment and normalize ecologies for economic benefits or environmental protection. In contrast, religious Balinese actors, for whom environments are dwelling places of spirits and gods, make use of their bodies as means of mediation to communicate with the non-human and restore the balance between environment, humans and god. A third kind of technology used in the reclamation case is a broad mix of media, from traditional theatre to new social media, that are meant to mediate between locally rooted ontologies and global activism, communicate resistance to a broad public, and thus save a (sacred) environment and Bali.

Bräuchler argues, that in the Bali case, technologies appear ambivalent as they contain contradictory forces and their relationship with the environment is highly complex. This makes consequences quite unpredictable and ethics quite diverse.

Article keywords: Technology, Environment, Ethics, Media, Activism, Religion, Adat, Indonesia, Bali

Read the article (open access) at Science & Technologies Studies' website.