Imagining an Ecopolitical Space
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There exist at present a broad range of environmental challenges, and there are strong and varied movements seeking to take action on these issues in a range of ways. What is deeply contested, however, is how these environmental problems should be framed, and through what means solutions ought to be developed. At the heart of these questions is the need to critically evaluate dominant political framings that seek to contain and manage, rather than engage, these ecological challenges. What is required instead is the development of viable ecopolitical practices that are able to generate practicable solutions while retaining the capacity to grow, develop, and sustain life. In addressing the challenge of theorizing such a viable ecopolitics, I work to productively combine phenomenologically-informed understandings of place with an Arendtian formulation of the conditions of political life in a way that can help to create inhabited ecological spaces of appearance. Such spaces can offer the potential to respectfully include ecological considerations in political decision-making, to foster an acknowledgement and valuing of the situatedness of particular political actions, and to open up discursive and interpretive possibilities while maintaining this openness through sustained political negotiation. In order to explore the possibilities and potential implications of such an ecopolitical space, I begin by outlining what I understand to be the current ecopolitical challenge and its associated problematic inclusive and exclusive dynamics. I move on to offer a possible response to this ecopolitical challenge through an exploration of particular characteristics of place experience and the potential for phenomenological views of place to gather various elements of the more-than-human world into an arena of common engagement or appearance. Critically examining current state-centric political framings, and their inability to adequately meet this ecopolitical challenge, I appeal instead to a richer and more dynamic Arendtian formulation of political life. Finally I work to develop an understanding of how this expanded conception of the political can be combined with phenomenological understandings of place to begin to create vibrant and creative ecopolitical spaces in practice.