Forgotten Edens of New Planetary Resources
A Territorial Modelling Project
by Xenia Adjoubei

This research began with the 2020 Sol y Sombra project, involving 22 researchers based world-wide, we used the architectural sectional drawing as a tool to interrogate conditions of social, political, economic and spatial friction. This method showed that racial, gender-based and wealth-based injustices can be understood much better if intersected with their physical context: the urban, the natural, the eco-systemic.
Forgotten Edens of New Planetary Resources continues this methodology of research, taking it to a live project.
It will interrogate the understanding of ecosystems in contexts lacking practical sovereignty: their protection, their value as natural and cultural capital, and as new natural resources (clean natural resources), through intersectional thinking and detailed mapping. Proposals to emerge should tackle stark conflicts of ownership and belonging and explore digital governance systems, creation of physical-digital infrastructures in remote areas and the collectivisation of advanced technologies.
The Forgotten Edens project will develop and apply an emergent intersectional mapping and territorial design methodology, to map and model resource-rich ecologies experiencing rapid change, human and natural exploitation, and technological disenfranchisement.

This research is framed in an extended present in which millions of people are predicted to be displaced by climate change and geopolitics, identities and self-identification in individuals are becoming more fluid, and simultaneously falling under greater control, while the possibilities of alternative digital systems of legal and financial regulation are being felt in shadow economics and geo-politics worldwide.
Value systems and political interests are shifting away from yesterday’s scarce resources to the scarce resources of the future, such as freshwater, oxygen, future arable land and forests. The latent political power embedded in these resources will be harnessed and controlled, but will this be done democratically and transparently? Dystopian projects in this field alert us to the potential of artificial intelligence-managed natural resources and human-exclusion ecological environments.
By Forgotten Edens are (often very large) territories experiencing a convergence of:

1. advanced technologies for the extraction and management of scarce resources (old natural resources), through mining, oil extraction, industrial forestry / farming;

2. nascent, or purposefully deconstructed, civil society and lack of applied nationhood for the communities who inhabit these lands, whether Indigenous, local or migrant as the result of shadow labour economies;

3. the devastating destruction of the scarce resources of the future (new natural resources).
The market-viability of old natural resources often arises out of 'underdevelopment be design', as it is dependent on weak justice systems and the destruction of precious natural habitats and scarce resources of the future. Underdevelopment by design occurs through political will or the long-term abandonment of lands and peoples through economic and social neglect by governments (or large-scale land-owners). We must urgently study how transnational governance and geo-capitalism will take stock of new and old natural resources, located in these territories, and attempt to balance their value, as they become powerful tools of international leverage, in contexts of political instability, rising inequality and dire devaluation of human life, which is simultaneously coupled with the great centralised technological capability.
Shared Digital Space

I propose an emergent digital mapping and design practice to analyse and visualise past and present conceptions of labour, equitable and sustainable infrastructures, and systems for racially-just engagement in design and governance. The problematic of this research is that technological power currently resides in the party taking advantage of underdevelopment in order to exploit natural resources. Can this be balanced by applying advanced mapping and engagement technologies and investigating what is happening on the ground? Is it possible to support political, economic and social agency through this technology, for a more balanced discourse on the new natural resources under threat?
Nature is Culture

The commitment to supporting change in this field is through research as design, rooted in the idea of community-led design and ecosystem protection through the 'shared planet' approach, because we believe that nature is culture. I am interested in looking at what intersectional research and proposition in the fields of digital design technologies can offer to specific contexts. I will test the relevance of ideas, such as the new wealth economy, alternative value systems, ecosystems services, AI and self-governance, micro-currencies, digital literacy in remote areas, and blockchain technologies for legal and political decentralisation.

Natural habitats (flora and fauna) and cultural habitats (people), will be mapped in detail with a focus on intersectionalities, to propose new value systems for justice-driven natural and social capital.
  • Xenia Adjoubei
    Architect and Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Inclusive Ecologies Incubator at the Pratt Institute, New York, Xenia runs an architecture practice which specialises in projects for culture and education.

    Her research is on Environmental Diplomacy and Climate Justice with a focus on migration, informal economies and their impact on the environment. Her work has been showcased at biennales and exhibitions internationally.

    She directs the Nikola-Lenivets Open Classroom at the largest art park in Europe, where she leads a design think-tank on the New Rural condition. Its outputs have been presented at conferences and exhibitions, including the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019, in collaboration with the Global Free. Xenia co-teaches an MA Architecture studio at Umea University, Sweden.

  • We are looking for collaborators to bring this project to realisation. Please get in touch if you are interested.

    This research is supported by Umea University, Sweden.
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