Paul Greenough and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
INTRODUCTION
UPSTAIRS IN THE MUSEUM
It is late morning a century in the future. You are between flights and
striding toward a grandly built edifice, the Museum of Human Welfare.
The renowned museum, its wings forming a huge compass rose, sits on
the site of a former prison in Port Blair, green capital of the Andaman
Islands, a favorite stopover on the Kamchatka to Capetown shuttle.
Unlike other museums, the Museum of Human Welfare displays no ob-
jects; instead, its halls are filled with HoloVue screens that conjure up
historical ensembles—recordings of archived voices, images and texts in
many media. Accompanying these vivid holographic displays is an inter-
pretive narrative that retells past struggles to protect bodily health and
longevity, to shield face-to-face comradeship from all scaling up exer-
cises, and to stabilize the biodiversity that has arisen from evolution
rather than genetic engineering. In the museum’s central foyer, there are
young men and women, docents, one of whom sits with you and relates
the events leading up to the passage of the Universal Declaration of
Responsible Interconnections in the year 2057. This was the famous
global compact that made it a criminal act for governments, public cor-
porations, or private institutions to exert claims over natural or social
resources without first assessing and publishing the probable impacts on
nature and human welfare. Impact was defined broadly to include not
only the immediate destructive effects on natural and social systems but
the subtler stresses at three and four removes that would eventually
wither the most fragile ecosystem and the most obscure tribe. Before
2057, mistaken policies based on opaque slogans of progress, growth,
development, and nation building had destroyed whole ecologies and
communities. Hence the reality-defining and world-making effects of
national, developmental, and corporate rhetorics came under the closest
scrutiny. In the decade after 2057, a period when the global economy
skidded badly, thousands of anthropologists, rhetoricians, critical theo-
rists, historians, and ecologists were sent into the world as observers and
listeners. As a result of their researches—which involved speaking with a
million peasants, forest dwellers, artists, politicians, industrialists, jour-
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