Domestication in a post-industrial world

Authored by: Libby Robin

The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138786745
eBook ISBN: 9781315766355
Adobe ISBN: 9781317660194


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The concept of the Anthropocene unsettles ideas about time and place. The local scales of the village and the nation are challenged by planetary narratives across geological timescales. Who belongs where, when people are all “Out of Africa” at this level? What is civilization and whose civilization is “progressive”? At the heart of literatures of belonging, from fiction to conservation biology, is the concept of agricultural settlement as civilization. A world history narrative has identified domesticating animals and sowing crops as the first big step forward (the agricultural revolution) and the tapping of energy sources beyond human and animal bodies as the second (the industrial revolution). Domestication of animals in Western civilization frames understandings of the way nature is conceptualized and controlled. The civilization narrative also affects questions of who has the right to speak for nature and what moral rights are accorded to nonhuman others.

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