Together Raf De Bont and Simone Schleper have a chapter in the recently published The Routledge Handbook of Environmental History, edited by Emily O’Gorman, William San Martín, Mark Carey, and Sandra Swart. Their chapter “Actor-networks, conservation treaties, and international environmental history” is available to read here.
In this chapter, actor-network theory (ANT) is used to argue that making conventions, and making conventions work, does not just involve the mobilisation of humans and their institutions, but also of non-human organisms and things. After introducing the methodological outlines of ANT, the chapter illustrates its potential for the study of international treaties by exploring two cases: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA). What treaty texts do relies on varied, ever-changing, and often unstable networks, including a multitude of human and non-human actors such as tracing technologies and animals. The intent of this chapter is to show that the actor-network approach is particularly suited for research in environmental history with its long-standing interest in more-than-human agency.