Lesley Green is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Environmental Humanities South, a research centre at the University of Cape Town. Her current research focuses on race and the making of an environmental public in a time of climate change in South Africa, linking the critique of modernist thought with the work of postcolonial and decolonial thinkers. Her research spans both terrestrial and marine environments with a particular interest in understanding their entanglement.
Lesley is the editor of Contested Ecologies: Dialogues in the South on Nature and Knowledge (HSRC Press, 2013), co-author of Knowing the Day, Knowing the World: Engaging Amerindian Thought in Public Archaeology (Arizona University Press, 2013), and author of Rock | Water | Life: Essays from South Africa on Science and Decoloniality (Duke University Press, forthcoming 2018). She is a Council member of 4S. In January 2018, she will spend a semester as a Fulbright Fellow at the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Ocean Regime Shift
While the dramatic changes in kelp forest ecology off Western Cape shores of South Africa are well described in the scholarly literature, they are poorly understood. Abalone extinction risks have been conceptualised as a poacher problem to be dealt with, at times, by the military, and lobster-led “ecological regime shift” described in the scholarly literature open questions about the entanglement of both ecologies and scientific fisheries management with social and political life.
Setting fisheries management and science in dialogue with urban politics of sanitation and beach management and Cape Town’s stormwater and sewer outflows into the ocean, the paper uses historical sources to argue that the rise of harmful algal blooms since the late 1980s is an effect of lack of attention to urban poverty and sanitation. Lobster and abalone poaching, too, are an effect of radical income inequality that has not been adequately addressed in the post-apartheid years. Thinking via the environmental humanities, the paper argues that ecology and society can be productively thought together, and that the separate conceptualisation and management of terrestrial and marine environments are damaging ocean health and fisheries. An integrative approach to ocean and city management, that addresses both extinctions and expulsions, is proposed.