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  • Correlation: Registers of Change

    Jonathan Pugh, David Chandler

    Chapter from the book: Pugh J. & Chandler D. 2021. Anthropocene Islands: Entangled Worlds.


    Chapter 4 analyses how Correlation approaches maintain a knowing human subject and a world of patterned regularity amenable to policy intervention. Here, the island emerges as a ‘correlational technology’ where changes are seen as early indicators of climate change. Central however, is an (onto)epistemology of inter-relation and correlation rather than one of linear cause-and-effect: we move from a temporal and spatial line of movement to one of synchronicity. Correlational modes are deployed for sensing global warming, rising sea levels and other shifting planetary conditions. As islands are reinterpellated as ‘living laboratories’, the authors argue that the island is seen as enabling the generation of onto-epistemologies operating on correlative not causal principles. In addition to such correlational practices as the evolutionary patterns of island life, there is the widespread celebration of Indigenous islanders’ correlational abilities, useful in the ‘forecasting of extreme weather conditions’. Such approaches have received a high-tech boost in the Anthropocene, taking the algorithmic form of the, ‘if this … then that’ logic associated with Big Data, the Internet of Things and the trope of the ‘smart island’. Here, prolific use of Big Data combined with extensive networks of sensors or tracking social media on islands enables rapid policy responsiveness. The authors demonstrate how working with islands as sites for understanding relational entanglements and feedbacks plays an important role in the generation and exponential development of Correlational onto-epistemologies in broader Anthropocene thinking.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Pugh J. & Chandler D. 2021. Correlation: Registers of Change. In: Pugh J. & Chandler D, Anthropocene Islands. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book52.d

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    Published on June 9, 2021