Eduardo Romero Dianderas

Eduardo Romero Dianderas


Calculating Amazonia: technical metaphysics and the politics of traceability in contemporary Peru

Dissertation Review Committee

Research Concentrations

Technical Infrastructures, Rainforests, State Bureaucracies


South America; Peru


I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University specializing in the study of technical expertise, digital infrastructures and rainforest governance in Peruvian Amazonia. Prior to coming to Columbia, I received an M.A. in Environmental and Ecological Anthropology at the University of Georgia, where I worked with foresters, ecologists and geographers in an integrative conservation initiative, and a B.A. in Anthropology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, my home country. For most of my professional life, both as an academic and as a practitioner, I have been heavily involved in understanding the complex processes by which the governance of Amazonian rainforests is being transformed by new digital technologies as climate change and biodiversity loss come to redefine the planetary stakes of their conservation and management.

In my doctoral dissertation, “Calculating Amazonia: technical metaphysics and the politics of traceability in contemporary Peru,” I examine the political and epistemic dilemmas that arise as Peruvian Amazonia becomes the recipient of massive technocratic investments aiming to turn rainforests into spaces of growing technical traceability. I argue that over the last twenty years much of the technocratic investments aimed at rainforest governance in Amazonia have come down to render traceable across time and space various kinds of traditionally opaque juridical bodies with high stakes in contemporary rainforest conservation, mainly tropical timber and indigenous territories. To the extent that such bodies become subject to new transnational regimes of environmental transparency and accountability, they are increasingly experienced as standardized abstractions amenable to be calculated and monitored at various scales. As a result, physical bodies like timber and indigenous territories are rendered traceable through the deployment of what I call metaphysical objects: objects that cannot be directly experienced through the senses but whose ontological coordination through everyday technocratic labor carries the promise of making rainforest information more scalable, commensurable and consistent. In each chapter of my dissertation, I thus follow the epistemic and political dilemmas that surround the stabilization of a particular kind of metaphysical object as it emerges across rainforest walks, bureaucratic offices and various kinds of state data architectures. As a whole, Calculating Amazonia thus analyzes the epistemic politics of abstraction in the context of a growing international pressure to render Amazonian rainforests into sites of technical traceability. Rather than the growing insistence on materiality that has guided most recent scholarship on infrastructures and technocratic labor, I seek to reconsider the critical role of immateriality in contemporary forms of technocratic governance, particularly as pressing global questions such as climate change come to demand growing levels of coordination and standardization at various scales.


University of Georgia, MA in Ecology and Environmental Anthropology, 2015
Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, BA in Anthropology, 2010

2015. “State evocations, affect and indigenous organizations in contemporary Peruvian Amazonia.” Development: Journal of the Society for International Development (SID) 58, no. 1: 21-30.