Relationism as revelation or prescription? Some thoughts on how Ingold's implicit critique of modernity could be harnessed to political ecology

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Abstract

Tim Ingold’s critique of mainstream modern experiences of human–environmental relations is highly persuasive but almost completely disconnected from considerations of social relations of power and inequality. His emphasis on the phenomenology of local relations seems inevitably detached from the logic of abstract economic and political systems. This article proposes that the distortions of experience that Ingold identifies tend to be produced by the social and ecological conditions of modern society, to which economic and political inequalities are fundamental. The experiential and the political dimensions of modernity are thus two sides of the same coin, and Ingold’s critical reflections on the phenomenological repercussions of the modern condition converge with the kind of critiques articulated within political ecology. This convergence is particularly intriguing in relation to our understanding of modern technology. Building on ideas and intuitions that have emerged repeatedly through the history of the philosophy of technology, Ingold’s ‘anthropology of technology’ focuses on the experiential aspects of modern engagements with artefacts or material culture, while a political ecology of technology could be expected to unravel how its dependence on asymmetric resource flows illuminate its global, distributive dimension. To reconceptualize modern technology as a means of redistributing human time and natural space is to grasp that it is a phenomenon that straddles the conventional dichotomy of Nature and Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-263
JournalInterdisciplinary Science Reviews
Volume43
Issue number3-4
Early online date2018 Sep 30
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 2

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Geography

Keywords

  • Tim Ingold
  • human-environmental relations
  • modernity
  • phenomenology
  • experience
  • power
  • inequality
  • political ecology
  • technology

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