Beyond Utopia: Crisis, Values and the Socialities of Nature

Beyond Utopia: Crisis, Values and the Socialities of Nature

Thursday-Friday, March 1-2, 2012 / 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
McCune Conference Room, HSSB 6020

The world is experiencing concurrent environmental and socio-economic crises that put dominant models of management and governance into question. A global economy organized around principles of market freedom and individual benefit drives accumulation by dismantling commons and public goods. This workshop explores alternative forms of human-environment interaction in specific regional spaces in an effort to rethink the foundations of the politics of nature, and gain some clarity about the possibilities of sustainable development in a time of profound ecological and socio-economic crises. The organizers have three goals in mind for this workshop.  First, we wish to critically assess dominant political, economic and socio-cultural models in order to understand the ways in which they have caused, enabled or hindered environmental crises. Second, we want to identify alternate traditions and visions of environmental stewardship and citizenship, in an effort to chronicle the diversity of creative and sustainable environmental values, worldviews and social practices that exist in various parts of the world. Third, we choose to discuss the role of alternative cultures of nature, how they have been marginalized as impractical, naïve and utopian but also how this utopia has concretely contributed to sustainable nature-culture relations across the globe.

Presentations will include:

The Environmental Arena in Chile: How engaged citizens contest and participate today

Consuelo Biskupovic
Department of Anthropology, Institut de Recheche sur les Enjeux Sociaux, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales & Universidad de Chile

Life and Death in Non-Anthropocentric Utopia
Rosemary-Claire Collard
Department of Geography, University of British Columbia

Whose Utopia? — Our Utopia!: Competing visions of the future at the UNFCCC’s COP17, the last Kyoto negotiation before the climate treaty expires
John Foran, Sociology, UC Santa Barbara
Richard Widick, Orphalea Center, UC Santa Barbara

Climate Cosmopolitics
Donna Houston, Department of Environment and Geography, Macquarie University
Diana MacCallum, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Curtin University
Wendy Steele, Urban Research Centre Climate Change Response Program, Griffith University
Jason Byrne, Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University

Putting Nature Back in Place: Governance for social-ecological innovation
Abid Mehmood, Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
Susan Baker, Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

The Governance of the Nature-Culture Nexus: Literature, case-studies and lessons to learn
Constanza Parra, University of Groningen, Environment and Planning; University of Leuven, ASRO, P&D
Frank Moulaert, University of Leuven, ASRO, P&D

An Inquiry in Regional Policy Diffusion: A case study of the Croatian island of Unije
Marijana Sumpor, The Institute of Economics Zagreb
Nenad Starc, The Institute of Economics Zagreb

Can Environmental Activism Benefit from Post Normal Science?
Philip J. Tattersall, University of Western Sydney

Community Bites: Local communities, global production, and the common good
Christian Thauer, Otto Suhr Institut, Freie Universitat, Berlin
Zoe Bray, University of Nevada, Reno


For more information please contact Casey Walsh (Anthropology, UCSB) at

Sponsored by Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC), Université du Luxembourg,  The Department of Anthropology, and the IHC’s Public Goods series.