Ecologies of Identity

1 group 2  rousseau 3 vermonter 4 leutze

Much of my work deals with the environmental imagination, i.e., the variable, divergent and conflicting ways in which people perceive, interpret, and culturally construct nature, environments, space/place(s), and landscape. I deal with nature as an idea and representation (in art, film, popular culture, public discourse) and as medium and site of struggle; and with identity as something that emerges out of those struggles. Identifying with a place may seem like an "environmentally correct" thing to do, but it can also be xenophobic and exclusionary, when lines are drawn around who "belongs" and who doesn't. Through theoretical as well as applied research in specific settings, I'm interested in teasing out the factors that play into these place-based identity-making porcesses and that move them in different directions - in exclusionary ones versus more open-ended ones - and, ideally, in developing place-practices that could build "multicultural ecologies" and "cosmopolitan bioregionalisms" (see definitions below*) and contribute toward the development of globally connected, just, and sustainable cultures, polities, economies. 

Ecologies of identity

... at the edge of Canada    Go to my Cape Breton page.

... in Ukraine and Eastern/Central Europe  Go to my Eastern Europe Page.  

. . . in Vermont (to come). 

N.B. photo #3 above is a Bread and Puppet Theatre (based in Glover, VT) model Vermont farmer - against GMOs, pro-secession (from Bush's USA)... Bread and Puppet's performances in towns around Vermont (including at Fourth fo July parades) circulate its communitarian, decentralist, pro-peace and anti-corporate message among old  back-to-the-landers, small-c conservatives, new lefties, and exurban liberals.

See also my Green Visual & Cultural Studies   and Eco-Theory  pages 

Book project:
Ecologies of Identity: Culture,
Nature, and Enchantment in Global Spaces

If the twenty-first century portends to be a time of environmental conflicts – over oil and other scarce resources, and over the potentially debilitating effects of global climate change – it is also one in which ethnic or identity conflicts loom equally large. Globalization intensifies the movement of people, goods, images and ideas: in its wake, cultural identities adapt by becoming more global and blurred, but also by a resistant assertion of differences.
Ecologies of Identity will examine cultural change in the face of the twin waves of globalization and environmental crisis. Just as the rise of the nation-state found national elites crafting links between cultural heritage and territory, so the fitful emergence of a nascently global community shows signs of new connections being forged between environment and identity at a range of scales, from the local to the global. This book will focus on what constitutes “nature” at such sites, and how it in turn constitutes (individual and collective) subjectivity: from Hollywood representations of environmental threats and scientific and media discourses of global weather events to scholarly theories of ‘cosmopolitan citizenship’ and ‘ecological identity,’ from UNESCO World Heritage sites to world music festivals, environmental ‘negative heritage’ sites, and places of ‘Gaian pilgrimage.’

A multicultural ecological theory aims to hold in productive tension the realist assertions of ecology with the constructivist underpinnings of contemporary cultural theory. See “Toward a Multicultural Ecology,” Organization and Environment 15 (4), 2002, 389-409. Go back up.

Cosmopolitan bioregionalism: On cosmopolitanism, I’ve been influenced by the work of Ulrich Beck and other sociologists who examine some of the more positive sides of cultural globalization, postmodernization, and ‘cosmopolitanization.’ On bioregionalism, click here for something I wrote years ago on bioregionalism and ritual when I lived in the Oak Ridges Bioregion in Toronto. The combination of the two terms was first articulated (to my knowledge) by bioregionalist Mitch Thomashow. Go back up.