A Discourse Theoretical Study
New Horizons in Environmental Politics series
Chapter 3: Theoretical reflections: discourses and institutions after Nature
What is in crisis here is the Symbolic order, the conceptualisation of the relationship between nature and culture such that one can talk about the one through the other. Nature as a ground for the meaning of cultural practices can no longer be taken for granted if Nature itself is regarded as having to be protected and promoted. After Nature: modification of the natural world has become consumption of it, in exactly the same way as modification of the world’s cultures (through colonialisation) has become consumption of them by the international tourist. The old double model for the production of culture – society improves nature, society reflects nature, no longer works. The individual consumes cultural and natural products alike, but in consuming them him or herself reproduces only him or herself. So consuming the world is turning it to already anticipated ends: the pleasures of the closed circuit (Haraway 1985: 8–9), the body as the place of private satisfaction that completes its own desires. [. . .] A crisis perceived as ecological contains all. We are still After Nature: still act with nature in mind. But I have suggested that the concept that grounded our views of individual consciousness and symbolic activity on the one hand and a relational view of human enterprise and society on the other has been transformed. And because it is ground that is transformed, an equally devastating effect is of triviality.
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