beyond utopia: crisis, values, and the socialities of nature

March 2012

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. Faced with the urgent task of creating an environmentally, economically and socially just and sustainable society, communities and practices considered by many in power as utopian present themselves as laboratories of innovation in sustainable development.