DFG-Project Gecko Translocalities

The negotiation of social and ecological values in human-animal relations between Germany and the Indian Ocean

In this project, Lisa Krieg explores the translocality of Phelsuma day geckos as an endangered and invasive species that engages nature conservationists, as scientific specimens researched by herpetologists, and a loved species that is cared for in terrariums.
Their various entanglements with humans and technology, with historical relations between the Indian Ocean and Europe, with genetical research and conservation biology, with the internet and
globalized communities of Phelsuma friends is in the focus of this project. Lisa conducts ethnographic fieldwork with the German terrarium community, with scientists from different countries working on Phelsuma day geckos, and with nature conservationists on Mauritius and La Réunion.

Engaging with work on translocality and mobility in general (Cresswell 2006; Sheller and Urry 2006), and particularly in the Indian Ocean (Verne 2012), and with recent debates about human-animal-technology relationships in the Anthropocene (Haraway 2008; Kirksey 2015; Tsing 2015), this project asks two interrelated questions:

  • How is knowledge, value, and care created and practiced in human-gecko relations in Germany and the Indian Ocean, and how are these processes related to the mobility of geckos (and humans)?
  • Which social values, hopes, and fears are negotiated in debates about the mobility of Phelsuma day geckos, on Indian Ocean islands and in German terrariums and taxonomic collections?

The aim of this project is to gain deeper insight into the social and cultural dynamics of human-animal relations that are responsible of attributing and denying value, for creating knowledge, and for shaping ambivalent practices of care, and how these in turn enable or restrict the mobility of animals. The project wants to contribute to theoretical discourses on mobility and translocality (Appadurai, 1996; Salazar & Smart, 2011; Sheller & Urry, 2006; J. Verne, 2012) by taking the mobility of animals into consideration. Additionally, the goal is to conceptualize the Indian Ocean as a space that is significantly shaped by nonhuman mobilities (Campbell, 2016; Gupta, 2012).

This project has been supported by a travel grant by the Thyssen-Foundation from 2017 to 2019. From 2019 to 2022, it is funded by the DFG.

Related Publications

Krieg, Lisa J. (2018) Entangling (Non)Human Isolation and Connectivity: Island Nature Conservation on Ile Aux Aigrettes, Mauritius. Island Studies Journal 13(2): 55–70.

Krieg, Lisa J. (forthcoming 2020). Endangered, invasive, pet, commodity. Gecko circulations and value transformation in the Western Indian Ocean. Global Environment.

PI: Lisa Krieg