Sustainability Metamorphosis

An Inconvenient Change

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 Umeå University, Sweden erland.marald@umu.se
  • 2 Umeå University, Sweden janina.priebe@umu.se
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Abstract

The institutionalization of sustainability agendas on the local and global levels has largely failed to deliver the promised change. In this essay, we develop the idea of sustainability metamorphosis as a way to break with the pathological paradigm of sustainable development that weakens society's capacity to transform in the face of global crises. Sustainability metamorphosis, in our understanding, draws on the Bakthian perspective of carnivalization and dialogical truth. In this sense, sustainability metamorphosis is an outlook on change in society and a source of strategies for long-term societal change. Our understanding of metamorphosis is inspired by the historical and literary understandings that saw ungraspable forces, acting upon both inner and outer worlds, and suspended hierarchies as the sources of necessary but inconvenient change.

Contributor Notes

Erland Mårald is a Professor of History of Science and Ideas at Umeå University in Sweden. His research focuses on the history of agriculture and forest sciences, and environmental ideas. This research includes the history of sustainability thinking and the institutionalization of environmental discourse. During the last decade, he has worked in an interdisciplinary context, combining transdisciplinary methods, temporal outlooks and environmental humanities perspectives. Recently, he has been a principal investigator for a transdisciplinary research project “Bring down the Sky to the Earth: How to Use Forests to Open up for Constructive Climate Change Pathways in Local Contexts.” Email: erland.marald@umu.se

Janina Priebe, who has a PhD in the history of science and ideas, is a Senior Research Assistant in Environmental History at Umeå University in Sweden. She specializes in the history of natural resources, sustainability, the Arctic, and global environmental history through analyzing narratives. She works in interdisciplinary teams and regularly collaborates with researchers in social sciences, climate science, and forestry sciences, and teaches about environment and sustainability in historical perspective. She completed her postdoctoral studies in environmental history in the transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary project that inspired this article, “Bring Down the Sky to the Earth: How to Use Forests to Open up for Constructive Climate Change Pathways in Local Contexts.” Email: janina.priebe@umu.se

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