Resilience has become a “buzzword” of our time. It is commonplace to hear individuals, communities, organisations, and systems described as resilient. Resilience has also become a buzzword In development discourse and practice. World Bank programmes for instance, refer to ‘resilient cities’, ‘resilient institutions’ and climate risk management ‘resilience strategies’. As noted by developer thinker Andrea Cornwall (2007), buzzwords tend to garner general abstract consensus around the importance of certain concepts but they equally can be vague and ‘fuzzy’, providing little sense of what a concept actually ‘looks like’ or how it translates in practice and in specific contexts. Here, we provide some clarity around the concept of resilience and how it is used in development today. We provide contextual examples drawing on development practice in Chile and Cambodia.
It is common in contemporary development practice and discourse for resilience to be framed within scientific understandings of how ecological systems work. An alternative framing and the position we take as authors, combines science and social science perspectives and defines resilience as an ability of humans and nonhumans to ‘survive well’ in the face of change and crisis (Gibson-Graham, Hill and Law, 2016). Within this frame, disturbances can be understood as a range of human and nonhuman processes including recovering from severe illness, emotional, and or socio-cultural trauma, navigating a significant economic shock, or surviving an extreme weather event. If resilience is understood as the ability to survive well, then development can thus be thought about as the active work of creating and maintaining the conditions of possibility for surviving well. This includes economic and livelihood conditions, and sociocultural and ecological ones.
|From Place to Emplacement: The Scalar Politics of Sustainability
Sustainability has emerged as a central concept for discussing the current state of the human-environment system and planning for its future. To delve into the depths of sustainability means to talk about ecology, economy, and equity as fundamentally interconnected. However, each continues to be colonized by normative epistemologies of ecological sciences, neoclassical economics, and development, suggesting that with enough science and development, a more equitable sustainability is achievable. In our analysis, place emerges as an alternative epistemology through which to analyze sustainability. Place exists at multiple spatial and temporal scales, understood through direct observation of boundaries, processes and patterns, phenomenologically through individual experience, and as a complex hybrid: always emerging through interactions among individuals and institutions. Despite the ubiquity of place in the socio-ecological literature, the complexity of place in relation to sustainability is under-theorized, and in as much as sustainability happens or does not happen in real places rather than in policies and models, a place-based sustainability framework is necessary to move forward. To address this gap, we developed the emplacement framework, consisting of four domains: displacement, misplacement, replacement, and emplacement. Each domain is dynamic, constructing place as praxis, and reframing sustainability as a site of collective inquiry and choices. Our goal is to facilitate the active and on-going practices of place-based research and engagement among scholars, activists, and other community members by providing a structure for transdisciplinary dialogue and the application of transdisciplinary research to enable better decision-making.
|Non-human ‘labor’: the work of earth others
Environments and ecosystems around the world support human life, culture and basic needs in myriad ways. Indeed, the ‘labour’ of non-humans, or Earth Others, as we refer to them here, is hugely diverse. But ecological descriptions of Earth Other interdependencies demonstrate that rethinking labour to build sustainable futures should not be a purely human-focused project. Much of the work that keeps our planet going has nothing to do with humans. We humans benefit from it but it is not for us. Today a growing dissatisfaction with an exclusive focus on human livelihoods at the expense of planetary livelihood has created a demand to attend to non-human labour and the work it does. In this chapter we explore the work Earth Others do. What does it look like? How is this work exchanged and distributed? How is it accounted for and valued? And what difference does it make to talk of non-human ‘labour’?
|Who Values what Nature? Constructing Conservation Values with Fungi
Humans depend on fungi to provide food and medicine, and to maintain the environments we inhabit. Yet their conservation has not captured the attention of conservationists, perhaps because existing normative economic, ecological, and social ways of creating value for plants and animals are a challenge to adapt for fungi. Using a critical physical geography perspective, this chapter argues that the value of fungi becomes clearer using alternative forms of accounting focused on interconnectivity. The concept of econo-ecologies refocuses value on the importance of work and exchange. For fungi, econo-ecological conservation is generated through sustainable livelihood practices, and ethical biogeographies. Fungi can thus serve as a paradigmatic case, demonstrating how the interconnectedness of values can help to reclaim conservation as a site of ethical decision-making.
|Emplacing Sustainability in a Post-Capitalist World
This chapter in the Handbook of Environmental Sociology is based on a particular understanding of post-capitalism, as a series of strategies for socio-economic-ecological negotiations. These strategies engage 1) the politics of language, 2) the politics of the subject, and 3) the politics of collective action. Understanding language, subjects, and collective actions as spaces for political engagement is about considering them as processes actively and always under negotiation rather than as fixed objects. Using these strategies I consider the question: what does sustainability look like in a post-capitalist world? Specifically, how can a post-capitalist politics support and enrich the concept of emplaced sustainability? In other words, is thinking about sustainability as an ongoing, place-based political process, rather than a necessary solution to maintain a world-order based on growth and development, an important building block for a post-capitalist future?
|Situating Wild Product Gathering in a Diverse Economy: Negotiating Ethical Interactions with Natural Resources
Building on the concept of econo-sociality (Gibson-Graham and Roelvink 2009), I propose the related concept of econo-ecology to explore and interpret diverse knowledges and practices of the environment using a range of case studies centered on interrelationships between humans, plants and fungi in the United States and Scotland.
|Beyond Green Capitalism: Providing an Alternative Discourse for the Environmental Movement and Natural Resource Management
In this paper interpreting mushroom hunting as part of the diverse economy facilitates its place independent of environmental protection strategies like green capitalism, which fail in part because they ignore non-capitalist resource use and extraction activities that do not fit within market oriented approaches to resource management.