Nature, Environment, Territories: Some Political Implications of Environmental Sociology's Discourse Categories

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:10
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jean Philippe SAPINSKI, Department of Sociology, University of Oregon, USA
As sociologists, we need to use socially constructed language categories to produce a discourse about the social and material world. The fundamental categories of ‘nature,’ ‘environment,’ ‘territory’ and ‘land’ all define slightly different objects of study for environmental sociology. In the first part of this presentation I will examine the political implications of each of these categories. I will discuss ‘nature’ and ‘environment’ as binary categories and delineate some of their shortcomings for developing a comprehensive analysis of the ways humans appropriate their subsistence from the world they exist in. The second part of the presentation will focus on the categories of ‘territory’ and ‘land,’ and explore how they may open up space for integrating human economic and political systems at the core of such an analysis, and thus move beyond human-nature dualism. Building from this framework, the third part of the presentation will look specifically at the capital-state-territory nexus that under capitalism determines the unsustainable appropriation of matter and energy at the root of the current environmental crisis.