Un-making Environmental Activism
Beyond Modern/Colonial Binaries in the GMO Controversy
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Much environmental activism is caught in a logic that plays science against emotion, objective evidence against partisan aims, and human interest against a nature that has intrinsic value. Radical activists, by contrast, play down the role of science in determining environmental politics, but read their solutions to environmental problems off fixed theories of domination and oppression. Both of these approaches are based in a modern epistemology grounded in the fundamental dichotomy between the human and the natural. This binary has historically come about through the colonial oppression of other, non-Western and often non-binary ways of knowing nature and living in the world. There is an urgent need for a different, decolonised environmental activist strategy that moves away from this epistemology, recognises its colonial heritage and finds a different ground for environmental beliefs and politics. This book analyses the arguments and practices of anti-GMO activists at three different sites – the site of science, the site of the Bt cotton controversy in India, and the site of global environmental protest – to show how we can move beyond modern/colonial binaries. It will do so in dialogue with Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour, María Lugones, and Gayatri C. Spivak, as well as a broader range of postcolonial and decolonial bodies of thought.
Table of Contents
Preface; List of abbreviations; Chapter 1. Un-making Environmental Activism: An Introduction; Anti-GMO Activism Past and Present; The ‘Radical’ Argument Against Science-Based Environmentalism; Moving Beyond Modern/Colonial Binaries? The New Materialisms and Latour’s Politics of the Collective; Starting from Historical Oppression: The Problem of Colonial Difference ; Chapter Outline; Chapter 2: ‘No One Knows What an Environment Can Do….’: From Facts to Concerns in the GMO Controversy; Man/Gene; Man/Gene’s Governance of the World; Dance of Life; In Place of a Conclusion: (Un)Making GMOs in the Collective ; Chapter 3. Voices and Visibilities: The Indian Bt Cotton Controversy; Who’s Speaking? Indian Smallholders and Bt Cotton; Finding a Voice in Speaking Through/With Nonhumans; The Wild Being of Statements and Visibilities; States and Machines: Thinking Differently About BT Cotton; Conclusion: Decolonising Anti-GMO Activism; Chapter 4. Travelling ‘Worlds’: The Protest of the Intercontinental Caravan; A Politics of Network? The Global Justice Movement; ‘World’-Travelling and Multiple Selves: An Introduction to Maria Lugones; ‘In Asia Great Leaders are Expected and Revered’: The Colonial Logic of the Intercontinental Caravan; Pilgrimage and Streetwalking: The Decolonial Option; Connecting Through ‘Things’: Becoming a Faithful Witness to Oppression; Conclusion: Towards Love and Play in Global (Environmental) Protest); Conclusion; Towards (More) Reality; Reflections on Method; Sense and Love: Beyond the Monologue; Streetwalking: Developing Strategies out of Concrete Encounters; An Anti-GMO Activist Manifesto; References; Index
Doerthe Rosenow is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford Brookes University. She is interested in the theorisation and analysis of political struggle in relation to understandings of nature, particularly from perspectives that engage notions of materiality and (de-)coloniality. Her research is interdisciplinary, crossing over the boundaries of International Relations, political theory, human geography, anthropology, and continental philosophy.