Archive

Latour

binha

Notes towards an emancipatory ecologistics? * What would be required of us cognitively, technically, and practically in our attempts to alter our ways of existing for more adaptive modes?

Bruno Latour, from ‘To modernize or to ecologize? That’s the Question’ (1998):

In the new regime, everything is complicated and every decision demands caution and prudence. One can never go straight or fast. It is impossible to go on without circumspection and without modesty. We now know, for example, that if it is necessary to take account of everything along the length of a river, we will not succeed with a hierarchised system that might give the impression, on paper, of being a wonderful science with wonderful feedback loops but which will not generate new political life. To obtain a stirring up of politics, you have to add uncertainty so that the actors, who until now knew what a river could and could not tolerate, begin to entertain sufficient doubts. The word ‘doubt’ is in fact inadequate, since it gives the impression of scepticism, whereas it is more a case of enquiry, research and experimentation. In short, it is a collective experimentation on the possible associations between things and people without any of these entities being used, from now on, as a simple means by the others.

Political ecology, as we have now understood it, is not defined by taking account of nature, but by the different career now taken by all objects. A planner for the local agricultural authority, an irrigator, a fisherman or a concessionaire for drinking water used to know the needs of water. They could guarantee its form by assuming its limits and being ignorant of all the ins and outs. The big difference between the present and the previous situation does not lie in the fact that, before, we did not know about rivers and now we are concerned about them, but in the fact that we can no longer delimit the ins and outs of this river as an object. Its career as an object no longer has the same form if each stream, each meander, each source and each copse must serve both as an end and a means for those claiming to manage them.

At the risk of doing a little philosophising, we could say that the ontological forms of the river have changed. There are, literally speaking, no more things. This expression has nothing to do with a sentimentalism of Mother Earth, with the merging of the fisherman, kingfisher and fish. It only designates the uncertain, dishevelled character of the entities taken into account by the smallest river contract or the smallest management plan. Nor does the expression refer to the inevitable complexity of natural milieux and human–environment interactions, for the new relationships are no more complex than the old ones (if they were, no science, management or politics could be done on their behalf, as Florian Charvolin [1993] demonstrated so well). It solely refers to the obligation to be prepared to take account of other participants who may appear unforeseen, or disappear as if by magic, and who all aspire to take part in the ‘kingdom of ends’ by suddenly combining the relationships of the local and global. In order to monitor these quasiobjects, it is therefore necessary to invent new procedures capable of managing these arrivals and departures, these ends and these means — procedures that are completely different from those used in the past to manage things.

In fact, to summarise this argument, it would have to be said that ecology has nothing to do with taking account of nature, its own interests or goals, but that it is rather another way of considering everything. ‘Ecologising’ a question, an object or datum, does not mean putting it back into context and giving it an ecosystem. It means setting it in opposition, term for term, to another activity, pursued for three centuries and which is known, for want of a better term, as ‘modernisation.’.

Everywhere we have ‘modernised’ we must now ‘ecologise.’ This slogan obviously remains ambiguous and even false, if we think of ecology as a complete system of relationships, as if it were only a matter of taking everything into account. But it becomes profoundly apposite if we use the term ecology by applying to it the principle of selection defined above and by referring it to the Kantian principle for the justification of the green regime.

‘Ecologising’ means creating the procedures that make it possible to follow a network of quasi-objects whose relations of subordination remain uncertain and which thus require a new form of political activity adapted to following them.

SOURCE: http://bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/73-7TH-CITY-GB.pdf

Two major thinkers thinking and talking major issues. Hell yeah.

Dr. Philippe Descola was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Peter Wall Institute and Dr. Bruno Latour was the fall 2013 Wall Exchange lecturer, and on September 25, 2013 engaged in a discussion at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver about the concept of the “Anthropocene”.

ABSTRACT:
Dr. Descola and Dr. Latour are two of France’s most prominent intellectuals, redefining their respective fields of expertise by considering the place of human agency – and non-human actors – in the construction of the modern world. In this conversation, Dr. Latour and Dr. Descola debated the idea of the anthropocene, a new geological era in which humans have become the principal agents for the transformation of our planetary systems, from small-scale consumption of natural resources to to large-scale, human-induced climate changes. Drawing on the fields of anthropology, science studies, and other allied disciplines, these two thinkers discussed their views on how intervention in the natural world has not only transformed planetary ecosystems, but also the very ideas and models we use to think about the planet as a whole. This event was co-sponsored by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, the Museum of Anthropology and the Consulat général de France à Vancouver.

ANTHEM

View original post

In the video below Katherine Gibson (one half of the amazing JK Gibson-Graham feminist economic-geographer duo; unfortunately Julie Graham died in 2010) delivers a powerful and insightful plenary lecture entitled, ‘An Economic Ethics for the Anthropocene‘ (2011), sponsored by the Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights Specialty Group, of the Association of American Geographers.

Abstract:  Over Antipode’s 40 years our role as academics has dramatically changed. We have been pushed to adopt the stance of experimental researchers open to what can be learned from current events and to recognize our role in bringing new realities into being. Faced with the daunting prospect of global warming and the apparent stalemate in the formal political sphere, this essay explores how human beings are transformed by, and transformative of, the world in which we find ourselves. We place the hybrid research collective at the center of transformative change. Drawing on the sociology of science we frame research as a process of learning involving a collective of human and more-than-human actants—a process of co-transformation that re/constitutes the world. From this vision of how things change, the essay begins to develop an “economic ethics for the Anthropocene”, documenting ethical practices of economy that involve the being-in-common of humans and the more-than-human world. We hope to stimulate academic interest in expanding and multiplying hybrid research collectives that participate in changing worlds.

Through new hybrid research collectives we have been attempting to produce a new econo-sociality.” – Katherine Gibson

  • “I have said in some of the earlier books that anthropology to me is anthropos + logos or logoi, so if you are interested in anthropos which in Greek is the human thing, and if you agree with Foucault and others that there have been different figures of anthropos, including man, and we may or may not be out of that figure, and if you think that the sciences or the logoi are extremely important in shaping the understanding of anthropos, then the anthropology of the contemporary in the way I seek to practice it has to take into account these logoi, and the potentially emerging figure of anthropos, which is with sciences and with these questions about what it means to be a human being.”Paul Rabinow