Ecological Relations: Towards An Inclusive Politics of the Earth

By Susan Board | Go to book overview

Introduction

International Relations (IR) is traditionally theorised from the grounds of a socially constructed metaphysics that logically excludes recognition of the ecological framework to life. What if we were to instead theorise from the ground upon which we walk? What if we were to accept the term, relations, in its broadest sense, rather than in its inherited understanding of diplomatic dealings between representatives of states? A perspective acknowledging both the ecological contextualisation to political life and the unlimited potential of relations between subjects would both confound the bound nature of the discipline and respond to the urgent need to address the consequences of environmental calamities and global disparities. Such an expansive reading of politics would necessarily reach for sustainable solutions alongside the discipline's founding normative goal of seeking peace.

This book is an exploration of the possibility of articulating such an inclusive politics. This is done by adopting a framework that incorporates an awareness of the power relationships held by subjects whose locations within diverse ecological contexts matter. Such a reading involves the appreciation that nature is not divorced from human affairs but that humanity is part of the earth's ecosystem and has had and continues to have a significant, usually detrimental, impact upon the earth's ecosystem and other inhabitants. The approach adopted here takes as presumed that the levels of economic activity, material consumption and subsequent waste produced currently within the 'developed' world are unsustainable.

The holism involved in an ecological vision of the affairs of earth contrasts with anthropocentrism, that is, a human-centred view of political debate. Accordingly, there is a distinct difference between the defined parameters of debate in IR and the approach adopted here. Both the academic discipline of IR and international relations as practised are concerned with relations between states regarding issues of war and peace, trade and levels of human autonomy. An unquestioned premise is the centrality of human life within an environment that may be used instrumentally. This anthropocentric metasupposition, axiomatically rooted in Cartesian metaphysics, logically distinguishes itself from and disregards the wider ecological sphere of relations. To view the world ecologically permits perception of human activity as

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Ecological Relations: Towards An Inclusive Politics of the Earth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Exclusivity of International Relations 9
  • Notes 30
  • 2 - Understandings of an Ecological Perspective 36
  • Notes 60
  • 3 - System Building and 'Game Openings' 67
  • 4 - Ecological Relations 97
  • 5 - Ecological Relations 138
  • Notes 170
  • 6 - Ecological Relations 177
  • Notes 217
  • Conclusion 227
  • Index 237
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