Liveable ecologies and the issue of ownership: potentialities and limitations
Cecilie Vindal Ødegaard (University of Bergen)
Paper short abstract:
The paper conceptually explores ongoing attempts to rethink ownership as defining feature of how the "humanity"-"nature" relationship conventionally have been defined. It discusses how attempts to redefine the status and ownership of entities of the landscape may inform liveable ecologies.
Paper long abstract:
In the face of neoliberal politics, extractivism and ecological degradation, conflicts over land and ownership appear to intensify. Meanwhile, land grabs and dispossession are in many contexts accompanied by an upsurge of multiple unconventional ways of imagining human relations to land. This paper seeks to conceptually explore ongoing attempts to redefine one of the social institutions through which the relationship between "humanity" and "nature" have been defined; namely ownership. In recent years we have seen various cases where people affected by climate change have sued major carbon-producers, hence making a sense of ownership and belonging into sites of resistance. The global concern with climate change is simultaneously informing the emergence of alternative "politics of nature", where scholars, indigenous activists and governmental bodies in different contexts attempt to find new ways to include landscape in the sphere of politics. The more experimental version of such attempts includes the granting of legal rights to rivers, forests, and mountains, such as the former national park Te Urewa, New Zealand, which has been redefined as a proper, juridical person; owned by itself, and with the possibility of suing, and being sued. A central argument in this paper is that we need to understand and compare such attempts to redefine the status and ownership of entities of the landscape: Are they attempts to actualize land-people affective connections in ways that may inform liveable ecologies and ethical imaginations? Can they simultaneously be an expression of the "ownership society" and a juridicalisation of moral-political domains?
Liveability in a time of ecological destruction [Humans and Other Living Beings Network]