Jason Cons is from the Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin. Jason will be discussing the paper Amongst Tigers: Sentinel Beasts on a Climate Frontier.

This paper explores the ongoing invention of the Royal Bengal Tiger as a sentinel beast of global climate change in the Bangladesh Sundarbans. It asks how the production of the tiger as climate sentinel shapes a broader network of politics and relations in the contemporary Bengal Delta. As others have pointed out, the Royal Bengal Tiger—the Sundarbans’ most famous resident—has long been a potent figure of global imaginations of imperiled nature. This is doubly true in an era of climate change where tigers and their habitats have become tropical analogs to images such as polar bears on melting icebergs. Building on classic ethnographic engagements with the Sundarbans tiger, this paper outlines a contemporary tension between visions of a global tiger and its corporeal counterparts. It situates the tiger as not only a charismatic beast making its possible last stand in the imperiled mangroves, but also as inextricably enmeshed in land, human labor, and a broader web of predation. The region is, at least in part, constituted with and through the flesh and figure of the tiger. I frame the making of the tiger as sentinel beast not as a misrecognition but as a creation that shapes conservation, development, and claims on the delta’s future. In doing so, I map how tigers are entwined with the production of space, risk, and agrarian change in Sundarbans. 

This event is part of the Social Life of Climate Change Seminar Series. These research seminars are interdisciplinary discussions around contemporary debates in the humanistic social sciences of climate change and the environment. 

The series is co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and Environment, the Department of Sociology and the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

The seminars are open to all. If you would like access to any of the upcoming seminars please email geog.comms@lse.ac.uk.

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