SCI David Schlosberg Seminar Series
|Dates:||19 May 2021|
|Times:||10:00 - 12:00|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||Sustainable Consumption Institute|
|Speaker:||Professor David Schlosberg|
This talk explores the idea of – and demand for – Political Participation that is just, pre figurative, sustainable, and based in material actions.
What kind of politics is guerrilla gardening, or installing community batteries? While there is a long history of material participation in social movements, recent movements incorporate a shift in relations between human and nonhuman as a political act.
Many of the articulated motivations for action in recent environmental movements of practice include desires for participation and procedural justice. Strong, participatory processes that involve local people in meaningful and substantial ways have been shown to promote positive beliefs and actions around a number of sustainability policies. For activists in many movements of practice – those involved in local food systems, sustainable fashion, and community energy, for example – participation is at the centre of movement concerns. Crucially, however, such notions of participation are material in nature. Classic notions of political participation or procedural justice are mainly instrumental – we vote for a specific outcome, participate toward an end, or protest to get a message across and change policy. The idea of participation in these movements of everyday practice, however, is articulated as a demand for material participation; activists repeatedly emphasise the importance of increasing community involvement in the production and flow of the basics of everyday life. This is not only a demand for classic political participation, but an insistence on a sense of material participation, social inclusion in the very flows of food, energy, or other goods and things through bodies, communities, and lives. Material participation is about doing – sometimes literally getting one’s hands dirty. Such a sense of material participation exists in these movements alongside a more traditional democratic senses and acts of political participation. This paper examines this shift toward a more material notion of political participation both theoretically and as articulated by movements. It makes the argument that material participation illustrates a very political implementation of the concept of new materialism – a particularly sustainable materialism. And it explores this notion and practice against the accusations that both new materialism and “lifestyle activism” are apolitical or post-political.
Professor David Schlosberg
Organisation: Director, Sydney Environment Institute, Professor of Environmental Politics, University of Sydney
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