Making Sense of Nature
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We listen to a cacophony of voices instructing us how to think and feel about nature, including our own bodies. The news media, wildlife documentaries, science magazines, and environmental NGOs are among those clamouring for our attention. But are we empowered by all this knowledge or is our dependence on various communities allowing our thoughts, sentiments and activities to be unduly governed by others?
Making Sense of Nature shows that what we call ‘nature’ is made sense of for us in ways that make it central to social order, social change and social dissent. By utilising insights and extended examples from anthropology, cultural studies, human geography, philosophy, politics, sociology, science studies, this interdisciplinary text asks whether we can better make sense of nature for ourselves, and thus participate more meaningfully in momentous decisions about the future of life – human and non-human – on the planet. This book shows how ‘nature’ can be made sense of without presuming its naturalness. The challenge is not so much to rid ourselves of the idea of nature and its ‘collateral concepts’ (such as genes) but instead, we need to be more alert to how, why and with what effects ideas about ‘nature’ get fashioned and deployed in specific situations. Among other things, the book deals with science and scientists, the mass media and journalists, ecotourism, literature and cinema, environmentalists, advertising and big business.
This innovative text contains numerous case studies and examples from daily life to put theory and subject matter into context, as well as study tasks, a glossary and suggested further reading. The case studies cover a range of topics, range from forestry in Canada and Guinea, to bestiality in Washington State, to how human genetics is reported in Western newspapers, to participatory science experiments in the UK. Making Sense of Nature will empower readers from a wide range of fields across the social sciences, humanities and physical sciences.
made sense of for us in ways that make it central to social order, social change and social dissent. By utilising insights and extended examples from anthropology, cultural studies, human geography, philosophy, politics, sociology, science studies, this interdisciplinary text asks whether we can better make sense of nature for ourselves, and thus participate more meaningfully in momentous decisions about the future of life – human and non-human – on the planet. This book shows how ‘nature’ can be
however, why don’t you have a go? Study Task: Look around you right now or think about what you’ve seen since getting out of bed this morning. Then list six things you consider to be ‘unnatural’. Ask yourself what it is about them that prevents you from considering them to be natural. Aside from ‘unnatural’, what other words come to mind to describe them (e.g. artificial)? This task should allow you to define nature from the ‘outside in’. How did you do? It seems to me that ‘nature’ has four
rainforest is perhaps the most recognisable ‘natural space’ of all. It’s nothing less than a ‘verdant poster child’ (Slater, 2003: 21) for all that is deemed to be worth protecting against ‘the human impact’. Where what we call nature is threatened or vanishing, we as often create ex situ sites in which to concentrate it as we do ring-fence natural spaces and species in situ – think, for instance, of zoos, botanical gardens or the Millennium Seed Bank in London (metaphorical arks all). So, we
collateral concepts that they cross every conceivable representational genre and practice. These concepts thus condition our thoughts and feelings in virtually all areas of our daily life, even if we don’t always recognise it. From the manufacturer of happy drivers. Skoda Yeti wins Car of the Year 2010. Superb. (Oh, that won best family and estate car). Com e and see o u r aw ard-w in ning range a t y o u r local Skoda retailer o r visit skoda.co.uk mss AWARDS ww AW ARDS*® AWARDS V»s
some detail that what appears to be ‘natural’ is indissociable from what’s normally understood to be its antithesis. Disputes over old growth trees, scientific research into human genes and even ‘direct’ encounters with wild animals all, I have demonstrated, make reference to an asocial nature that’s belied by close scrutiny of the representational practices involved. I use the term ‘representational practices’ because I’ve sought to emphasise that representations are performative. Even as they