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Anticipatory objects and uncertain imminence: cattle grids, landscape and the presencing of climate change on the Lizard Peninsula, UK

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In this paper we show how a seemingly unremarkable object – a cattle grid – has come to presence climate change in partial and contingent ways on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, UK. We identify the cattle grid as an ‘anticipatory object’ through which conservation organisations seek to manage the future and adapt to climate change, but which at the same time presences that unthought‐of future for others in the landscape. We explore the ways in which the cattle grid acts to presence something that is not only absent – climate change – but has uncertain imminence. We investigate the ways in which the cattle grid make climate relevant as an embodied and experiential process, a physical and intellectual artefact, and the means to imagine climate and the ways it might change. Drawing upon interpretative approaches informed by theorisations of materiality, presence and absence to understand climate change as a social phenomenon, we go beyond a consideration of this ordinary object defined by its function to consider how the object is experienced, the processes and practices through which people relate to it, and the ways in which social meaning accumulates around it. The empirical basis for this argument is provided by in‐depth interviews with local representatives of Natural England, residents and farmers.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall TR11 9EZ,

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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