1st Edition

Critical Sustainability Sciences Intercultural and Emancipatory Perspectives

Edited By Stephan Rist, Patrick Bottazzi, Johanna Jacobi Copyright 2024
    324 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores Critical Sustainability Sciences, a new field of scientific inquiry into sustainability issues. It builds on a highly novel integration of elements from relational ontologies, critical theory, political ecology, and intercultural philosophy in support of emancipatory perspectives on sustainability and development.

    The book begins by uncovering the weaknesses of mainstream sustainability science and debates on sustainable development. The new field of Critical Sustainability Sciences has grown out of a deep engagement with relational ontologies, which helps to overcome the dualist ontology underlying mainstream notions of sustainability and development. Dualist ontologies reinforce problematic anthropocentric divisions, for example, between humans and nature, subjects and objects, mind and matter, body and soul, etc. Examples from indigenous peoples in Bolivia, India, and Ghana – as well as integrative movements in Chile, Brazil, and Europe – show that relational conceptions of life, rooted in ecosophy and cosmosophy, can provide an intercultural philosophical foundation for Critical Sustainability Sciences. The book concludes by describing three key topics for exploration in Critical Sustainability Sciences: societal reorganization in view of emancipatory, existential, and cognitive self-determination; living labor and commons; and the development of new comprehensive relational scientific paradigms.

    This book will be of great interest to students, scholars, and practitioners of emancipatory and intercultural approaches to sustainability and development.

    Foreword by Vandana Shiva

    1. Why do we need critical sustainability sciences?

    Stephan Rist, Patrick Bottazzi, and Johanna Jacobi

    2. Key areas for critical sustainability sciences

    Stephan Rist, Patrick Bottazzi, and Johanna Jacobi

    3. A culture that understands that everything is interrelated, that nothing is divided, and nothing is outside

    David Choquehuanca Céspedes, and Stephan Rist (compilation and translation)

    4. Relational Ontologies in health sciences and practices in India

    Darshan Shankar

    5. Cosmovisions and critical sustainability sciences: an African ontology of "Vurr" (an energy) amongst the Dagara of southwest Burkina Faso and northwest Ghana

    David Millar, Niagia F. Santuah, and Maxwell Ba-an Tengolzor

    6. Contributions of the notion of cosmosophy to the formulation of critical sustainability sciences

    Jéssica Sepúlveda Pizarro

    7. Towards a "nature alliance": why sustainability must be rethought in terms of relationality

    Beat Dietschy

    8. Society–labor–nature: the potential of conflict

    Nora Räthzel

    9. Regenerative work: from commodity to collective action

    Patrick Bottazzi

    10. Food, food systems, and sustainability: elements of the "real food" debate in Brazil

    Renato S. Maluf

    11. Agroecology as a transformative approach to sustainable food systems

    Florencia Spirito, Viviana Blanco, and René Montalba Navarro

    12. Through the veil: a relational and participatory perspective to knowledge production and sustainability

    Hugo Marcelo Zunino

    13. Goethe’s scientific method: The road not taken

    Isis Brook

    14. Sustainable design: a critique of the tripolar sustainability model, 15 years later

    Alain Findeli

    15. Outlook and key topics for the construction of critical sustainability sciences

    Stephan Rist, Beat Dietschy, Patrick Bottazzi, and Johanna Jacobi


    Stephan Rist is Professor Emeritus of Human Geography at the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

    Patrick Bottazzi is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Geography, at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

    Johanna Jacobi is Professor at ETH Zürich, Switzerland, where she leads the Agroecological Transitions Group.