This is the text of my keynote speech at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in Leipzig, December You can also watch it on YouTube, but it runs to about 45 minutes. As a working science fiction novelist, I take a professional interest in how we get predictions about the future wrong, and why, so that I can avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Also, in the forest are aboutpeople of mixed ancestry, partly overlapping with the indigenous people. Making their living as petty extractors-of gold, nuts, rubber, and other forest products-they have a history of many generations in the Amazon. It is a complex history of dire exploitation.
These people are also threatened by the latest schemes of world banks or national capitals from Brasilia to Washington. Their presence in the forest might be the fruit of the colonial fantasies of the bandeirantes, romantics, curators, politicians, or speculators; but their fate is entwined intimately with that of the other always historical inhabitants of this sharply contested world.
It is from these desperately poor people, specifically the rubber tappers union, that Chico Mendes, the world-changing activist murdered on December 22,came. Animal testing discursive essay conclusion people are resisting a long history of forced "tutelage," in order to confront the powerful representations of the national and international environmentalists, bankers, developers, and technocrats.
The extractors, for example, the rubber tappers, are also independently articulating their collective viewpoint.
Neither group is willing to see the Amazon "saved" by their exclusion and permanent subjection to historically dominating political and economic forces.
As Hecht and Cockburn put it, "The rubber tappers have not risked their lives for extractive reserves so they could live on them as debt peons" p. Forest people seek legal recognition of native lands and extractive reserves held under the principle of collective property, worked as individual holdings with individual returns" p.
At the second Brazilian national meeting of the Forest People's Alliance at Rio Branco inshortly after Mendes's murder raised the stakes and catapaulted the issues into the international media, a program was formulated in tension with the latest Brazilian state policy called Nossa Natureza.
Articulating quite a different notion of the first person plural relation to nature or natural surroundings, the basis of the program of the Forest People's Alliance is control by and for the peoples of the forest. The core matters are direct control of indigenous lands by native peoples; agrarian reform joined to an environmental program; economic and technical development; health posts; raised incomes; locally controlled marketing systems; an end to fiscal incentives for cattle ranchers, agribusiness, and unsustainable logging; an end to debt peonage; and police and legal protection.
Hecht and Cockburn call this an "ecology of justice" that rejects a technicist solution, in whatever benign or malignant form, to environmental destruction.
The Forest People's Alliance does not reject scientific or technical know-how, their own and others'; instead, they reject the "modern" political epistemology that bestows jurisdiction on the basis of technoscientific discourse.
Nature and justice, contested discursive objects embodied in the material world, will become extinct or survive together. Theory here is exceedingly corporeal, and the body is a collective; it is an historical artifact constituted by human as well as organic and technological unhuman actors.
Actors are entities which do things, have effects, build worlds in concatenation with other unlike actors. Other actors, human and unhuman, regularly resist reductionisms. The powers of domination do fail sometimes in their projects to pin other actors down; people can work to enhance the relevant failure rates.
Social nature is the nexus I have called artifactual nature. The human "defenders of the forest" do not and have not lived in a garden; it is from a knot in the always historical and heterogeneous nexus of social nature that they articulate their claims.
Or perhaps, it is within such a nexus that I and people like me narrate a possible politics of articulation rather than representation. It is our responsibility to learn whether such a fiction is one with which the Amazonians might wish to connect in the interests of an alliance to defend the rain forest and its human and non-human ways of life-because assuredly North Americans, Europeans, and the Japanese, among others, cannot watch from afar as if we were not actors, willing or not, in the life and death struggles in the Amazon.
In a review of Fate of the Forest, Joe Kane, author of another book on the tropical rain forest marketed in time for Christmas inthe adventure trek Running the Amazon ,34 raised this last issue in a way that will sharpen and clarify my stakes in arguing against a politics of representation generally, and in relation to questions of environmentalism and conservation specifically.
In the context of worrying about ways that social nature or socialist ecology sounded too much like the multi-use policies in national forests in the United States, which have resulted in rapacious exploitation of the land and of other organisms, Kane asked a simple question: I care a great deal; in fact, I think I and my social groups are particularly, but not uniquely, responsible if jaguars, and many other non-human, as well as human, ways of life should perish.
But Kane's question seemed wrong on a fundamental level. Then I understood why. His question was precisely like that asked by some pro-life groups in the abortion debates: Who speaks for the fetus?
What is wrong with both questions? And how does this matter relate to science studies as cultural studies? Who speaks for the jaguar? Both questions rely on a political semiotics of representation.
The effectiveness of such representation depends on distancing operations. The represented must be disengaged from surrounding and constituting discursive and non-discursive nexuses and relocated in the authorial domain of the representative.
Indeed, the effect of this magical operation is to disempower precisely those-in our case, the pregnant woman and the peoples of the forest-who are "close" to the now-represented "natural" object.
Both the jaguar and the fetus are carved out of one collective entity and relocated in another, where they are reconstituted as objects of a particular kind-as the ground of a representational practice that forever authorizes the ventriloquist.
Tutelage will be eternal. The represented is reduced to the permanent status of the recipient of action, never to be a co-actor in an articulated practice among unlike, but joined, social partners. Everything that used to surround and sustain the represented object, such as pregnant women and local people, simply disappears or re-enters the drama as an agonist.II.
The Knowability of God A. God Incomprehensible but yet Knowable.
The Christian Church confesses on the one hand that God is the Incomprehensible One, but also on the other hand, that He can be known and that knowledge of Him is an absolute requisite unto salvation.
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Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, establishing and verifying facts, applying logic, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art and is normally considered to be a distinguishing.
Pamela Abbott and Claire Wallace Pamela Abbott Director of the Centre for Equality and Diversity at Glasgow Caledonian University.