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Que(e)rdenker*innen united :politicizing ecological grief within Western cultures of unsustainability through impulses from queer ecological theory and practice

Mühlbacher, Judith Petra LU (2018) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20181
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract (German)
Jegliche Auseinandersetzung mit ökologischer Literatur suggeriert, dass wir uns aufgrund des anthropogenen Klimawandels in einem Zeitalter bisher ungesehener ökologischer Verluste befinden. Eine häufige Reaktion darauf ist ökologische Trauer. In westlichen Kulturen der Unnachhaltigkeit ist diese weitgehend unanerkannt, was indikativ für ihre Art Natur zu denken ist. Laut der Ökofeministin Val Plumwood ist es die "Master Identität" (MI) im Herzen westlicher Kulturen, die die Schuld daran trägt. Die MI ist ein Set von sich gegenseitig verstärkenden Dualismen, die die menschliche Trennung von Natur neben anderer Unterdrückungen reproduziert. Solange diese kulturellen Strukturen nicht hinterfragt und transformiert werden, ist ein Wandel zu... (More)
Jegliche Auseinandersetzung mit ökologischer Literatur suggeriert, dass wir uns aufgrund des anthropogenen Klimawandels in einem Zeitalter bisher ungesehener ökologischer Verluste befinden. Eine häufige Reaktion darauf ist ökologische Trauer. In westlichen Kulturen der Unnachhaltigkeit ist diese weitgehend unanerkannt, was indikativ für ihre Art Natur zu denken ist. Laut der Ökofeministin Val Plumwood ist es die "Master Identität" (MI) im Herzen westlicher Kulturen, die die Schuld daran trägt. Die MI ist ein Set von sich gegenseitig verstärkenden Dualismen, die die menschliche Trennung von Natur neben anderer Unterdrückungen reproduziert. Solange diese kulturellen Strukturen nicht hinterfragt und transformiert werden, ist ein Wandel zu nachhaltigeren Kulturen unmöglich.
Diese Arbeit nimmt die emotionale Auseinandersetzung mit Verlust als Ausgangspunkt für eine solche kulturelle Transformation. Sie übt Kritik von innen und begibt sich in gesellschaftliche Nichen, die sich schon jetzt der MI widersetzen, indem sie politische Gemeinschaften rund um Verlust und Unterdrückung bilden - queere Communities. Um genauere Einblicke in die gesellschaftlichen Naturverhältnisse, wie sie teils in diesen Communities praktiziert werden, zu gewinnen, wurden sieben queere Öko-Aktivist*innen und -künster*innen in Berlin eingeladen, ihre Art Natur zu denken, in Beziehung zu setzen und zu bewerten, kreativ zu erkunden. Diese kreativen Beiträge wurden dann in Interviews genauer besprochen.
Folgend treten diese empirischen Daten in einen Dialog mit ökofeministischer, queerer und queer-ökologischer Theorie, um die Hauptforschungsfrage zu beantworten: "Wie können queer(-ökologische) Theorie und Praxis eine politisierte Verarbeitung ökologischer Trauer inspirieren, um sich westlichen Kulturen der Unnachhaltigkeit zu widersetzen?".
Anstatt ein alternatives Kulturmodell aufzuzwingen, nimmt diese Arbeit Inspiration von Impulsen des queeren Weltschaffens. Die Studie zeigt, wie eine emotionale Auseinandersetzng mit ökologischer Trauer eine Basis für Gemeinschaft bilden kann. Diese bietet Raum zur Heilung, aber auch zur Neuverhandlung dominanter Werte und Praxen. Durch Beispiele alternativer, queer(-ökologischer) Werte und Praxen werden Lesende eingeladen, ihre eigene Verbindung zu Natur zu hinterfragen.

Diese Arbeit zeigt die Wichtigkeit auf, marginalisierten Stimmen in Nachhaltigkeitswissenschaften aber auch gesamtgesellschaftlich Raum zu geben, um eine kulturelle Transformation sicherzustellen. Die Kombination aus queer(-ökologischer) Theorie, kunst-basierter Forschung, und marginalisiertem Wissen aus der Praxis zeigt sich als gelungen, um westliche Kulturen der Unnachhatigkeit neu zu imaginieren. (Less)
Abstract
Any reading of ecological literature suggests unprecedented ecological losses due to human-induced climate changes. A pervasive emotional response to that is ecological grief. In Western cultures of unsustainability this remains largely unrecognized, which is indicative of their way of thinking and relating with Nature. According to the ecofeminist Val Plumwood it is the Master Identity (MI) at the core of Western cultures that is at fault. The MI is a set of mutually reinforcing dualisms which culturally reproduce human separation from Nature alongside other oppressions. Unless these underlying cultural assumptions are questioned and transformed, a transition towards more sustainable cultures remains impossible.
Aiming at a critique from... (More)
Any reading of ecological literature suggests unprecedented ecological losses due to human-induced climate changes. A pervasive emotional response to that is ecological grief. In Western cultures of unsustainability this remains largely unrecognized, which is indicative of their way of thinking and relating with Nature. According to the ecofeminist Val Plumwood it is the Master Identity (MI) at the core of Western cultures that is at fault. The MI is a set of mutually reinforcing dualisms which culturally reproduce human separation from Nature alongside other oppressions. Unless these underlying cultural assumptions are questioned and transformed, a transition towards more sustainable cultures remains impossible.
Aiming at a critique from within, looking to utilize emotional engagement with loss as an entry point for cultural transformation, the thesis at hand engages with niches already subverting the MI by creating political communities around loss, namely queer communities. To focus in on the Nature-aspect of the MI, I invited seven queer-identifying eco-activists and -artists in Berlin to participate in a creative exploration of ways of thinking, valuing, and relating with Nature, which was then unpacked through in-depth interviews. Putting this data in dialogue with ecofeminist and queer(-ecological) theory, I sought to answer the main research question, “How can queer(-ecological) theory and practices inspire a politicized coping with ecological loss to subvert Western cultures of unsustainability?”.
Rather than imposing a definitive cultural model, the results take inspiration from values and practices of queer worldmaking in the form of impulses. The study showed that engaging with ecological grief can serve as a base for community building. This creates a space for healing, while also facilitating a re-negotiation of dominant values and practices. Recultivating a sense of interdependency from loss can help embrace the qualitative complexity of reconnecting with Nature. Recognizing continuities and differences amongst and beyond humans enables the extension of empathy, even beyond the present time. Drawing on examples of coalitions for joint liberations from the lived experience of the participants, the reader’s imagination is sparked to question how they themselves relate with others, with Nature.

These impulses further highlight the importance of amplifying marginalized voices within Sustainability Science and society at large for cultural transformation. The combination of queer(-ecological) theory, art-based research and subjugated experiential knowledges proved to be fruitful to explore and re-imagine Western cultures of unsustainability. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Mühlbacher, Judith Petra LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20181
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
ecological grief: queer ecology, master identity, art-based research, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2018:005
language
English
id
8946198
date added to LUP
2018-06-07 12:17:01
date last changed
2018-06-07 12:17:01
@misc{8946198,
  abstract     = {Any reading of ecological literature suggests unprecedented ecological losses due to human-induced climate changes. A pervasive emotional response to that is ecological grief. In Western cultures of unsustainability this remains largely unrecognized, which is indicative of their way of thinking and relating with Nature. According to the ecofeminist Val Plumwood it is the Master Identity (MI) at the core of Western cultures that is at fault. The MI is a set of mutually reinforcing dualisms which culturally reproduce human separation from Nature alongside other oppressions. Unless these underlying cultural assumptions are questioned and transformed, a transition towards more sustainable cultures remains impossible.
Aiming at a critique from within, looking to utilize emotional engagement with loss as an entry point for cultural transformation, the thesis at hand engages with niches already subverting the MI by creating political communities around loss, namely queer communities. To focus in on the Nature-aspect of the MI, I invited seven queer-identifying eco-activists and -artists in Berlin to participate in a creative exploration of ways of thinking, valuing, and relating with Nature, which was then unpacked through in-depth interviews. Putting this data in dialogue with ecofeminist and queer(-ecological) theory, I sought to answer the main research question, “How can queer(-ecological) theory and practices inspire a politicized coping with ecological loss to subvert Western cultures of unsustainability?”.
Rather than imposing a definitive cultural model, the results take inspiration from values and practices of queer worldmaking in the form of impulses. The study showed that engaging with ecological grief can serve as a base for community building. This creates a space for healing, while also facilitating a re-negotiation of dominant values and practices. Recultivating a sense of interdependency from loss can help embrace the qualitative complexity of reconnecting with Nature. Recognizing continuities and differences amongst and beyond humans enables the extension of empathy, even beyond the present time. Drawing on examples of coalitions for joint liberations from the lived experience of the participants, the reader’s imagination is sparked to question how they themselves relate with others, with Nature.

These impulses further highlight the importance of amplifying marginalized voices within Sustainability Science and society at large for cultural transformation. The combination of queer(-ecological) theory, art-based research and subjugated experiential knowledges proved to be fruitful to explore and re-imagine Western cultures of unsustainability.},
  author       = {Mühlbacher, Judith Petra},
  keyword      = {ecological grief: queer ecology,master identity,art-based research,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Que(e)rdenker*innen united :politicizing ecological grief within Western cultures of unsustainability through impulses from queer ecological theory and practice},
  year         = {2018},
}