Earth Emotions and Ecology

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“In many respects, especially for Indigenous people, the scientifically derived terms “ecology,” “ecological,” and “ecosystem” also fail to capture the emotional and cultural dimensions of the human relationship to land. They are useful terms in systems science but not so relevant to the expression of human emotions.

Ecosystems are abstractions, as it is impossible to know where an ecosystem starts and finishes. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the use of terms such as “ecological” with respect to human psychological states might even be an inadvertent form of neo-colonization by the misuse of bioscience placed into indigenous belief systems.

More generally, given the dual origins of both economics and ecology in the Greek, ‘oikos’, defined as the management (rule) of the household, the use of ‘eco’ can take us in the direction of ecosystem services and ecosystem offsets where the ecological is expressed in purely monetary terms and subject to economic managerialism.

Because of the risks of cultural and fiscal colonizing, I have come to the conclusion that where possible, the applications of the discipline ‘ecology’ should be restricted to the domains of the oikos. Human emotions with respect to the Earth, the psychoterratic, deserve to have defining terms that carry no such excess baggage.”

Excerpt. Negating Solastalgia: An Emotional Revolution from the Anthropocene to the Symbiocene, Forthcoming in American Imago 2020.

Image, Rock art in Arnhem Land. Taken with permission of traditional owners by Glenn Albrecht.

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1 comments on “Earth Emotions and Ecology”

  1. Hi Glenn,I hope you are well in these trying times! I came across your work after reading “Underland” by Robert Macfarlane. I am a documentary filmmaker based in NYC and I am currently producing a series for PBS about how the environment affects our personal health-mental and physical. The first episode focusses on Solastalgia and thank you for creating language that illustrates the earth we are inhabiting and our relationship to it. I would love to speak with you if you have a moment.

    With my best,

    Karena

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