Ecoculture is an emerging focal concept reflecting the inextricability of nature and culture. It is applicable to and employed in many disciplines, yet it is rarely defined, cited, or interrogated, causing potential inconsistencies in scholarly operationalization. In the present analysis, I use Steven H. Chaffee’s method of explication to develop an analytical review of ecoculture. I explore the primitive terms—ecology and culture—before assessing the scholarly use of the derived, compound term. I trace ecoculture across multiple disciplines, synthesizing operationalizations into one transdisciplinary theoretical framework. I find that ecoculture connotes interconnectedness and place relations, and has been critically operationalized in ways that problematize dominant human-centered ideologies, making it a productive scholarly frame that emphasizes the relationships between humans, their cultures, and their ecologies.
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Tracing a Transdisciplinary Focal Concept
Melissa M. Parks
Wells, Watering Practices, and Water Supply Infrastructure
Brock Ternes and Brian Donovan
Private water wells and municipal water supplies function as different systems of water provision, creating distinct—but understudied—patterns of water consumption. This article examines private well ownership to assess the relationships among conspicuous water consumption, cultural practices, and environmental structures. We surveyed well owners and non-well owners throughout Kansas, a state highly reliant on groundwater (n = 864). Borrowing insights from Bourdieu’s analysis of cultural consumption, this research considers the relationships between demographic variables and watering routines. We provide evidence that well ownership is a significant predictor of conspicuous water usage, and suggest attention to individuals’ hydrologic habitus—a disposition toward water usage shaped by infrastructure, class, and pertinent social variables—facilitates a better understanding of well ownership, drought-time watering, and conspicuous water consumption.
Where to the Twain Meet?
C.S.A (Kris) van Koppen
Klintman, Mikael. 2017. Human Sciences and Human Interests: Integrating the Social, Economic, and Evolutionary Sciences. London: Routledge.
Jetzkowitz, Jens. 2019. Co-evolution of Nature and Society: Foundations for Interdisciplinary Sustainability Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Creating a New Disease Grouping
Neglected tropical diseases show how a disease group can be formed to compete in the global health policy marketplace. The naming and branding of a new disease category is used to organize activities, direct attention and resources, and rationalize the governance of diseases. The politics of classification involves processes of negotiation and conceptual development by key actors. Here, discussions about central characteristics, naming, and inclusion and exclusion criteria are rarely settled. Contradictions are present in the “tropical” and “neglected” characterizations, as well as choices of universalist rather than particularist approaches. Interacting with these considerations is a continued progression in means of dealing with disease from health actors and changing attributes of diseases in populations.
Hendrik Paasche, Katja Paasche and Peter Dietrich
Geoscientists invest significant effort to cope with uncertainty in Earth system observation and modeling. While general discussions exist about uncertainty and risk communication, judgment and decision-making, and science communication with regard to Earth sciences, in this article, we tackle uncertainty from the perspective of Earth science practitioners. We argue different scientific methodologies must be used to recognize all types of uncertainty inherent to a scientific finding. Following a discovery science methodology results in greater potential for the quantification of uncertainty associated to scientific findings than staying inside hypothesis-driven science methodology, as is common practice. Enabling improved uncertainty quantification could relax debates about risk communication and decision-making since it reduces the room for personality traits when communicating scientific findings.
Genetics, Human Perceptions, and the Complexity of Species Categorization
Catherine Macdonald and Julia Wester
Species categorizations can involve both scientific input and conservation questions about what should be preserved and how. We present a case study exploring the social construction of species categories using a real-life example of a cougar subspecies (Puma concolor stanleyana) purposefully introduced into Florida to prevent the functional extinction of a related subspecies of panther (P. c. coryi). Participants in an online sample (n = 500) were asked to make categorization decisions and then reflect on those decisions in an open format. Analysis of coded responses suggest people may experience “species” as both a social and biological construct, and that the question of what species people think an animal belongs to cannot be answered in isolation from questions about how that animal fits into larger social and biological systems.
Reconceptualizing Transit State in an Era of Outsourcing, Offshoring, and Obfuscation
Antje Missbach and Melissa Phillips
There has been growing pressure on states to “solve” the phenomenon of irregular migration. Destination countries have transferred this pressure onto transit countries, which are assumed to have the political will, ability, and means to stop irregular migration. This special section looks at the ways in which transit countries respond to challenges, pressures, and compromises in matters of irregular migration policies through a number of empirical case studies. Making transit countries the main focus, this special section aims to scrutinize domestic policy discourses in the transit countries, which are influenced by regional agreements and economic incentives from abroad but are also shaped by local interests and a wide range of actors. Of special interest is to understand whether the logics of destination countries that favor deterrence and exclusion have been adopted by politicians and the public discourse within transit countries.
The (Re)Configuration of a Transit Country
Soledad Álvarez Velasco
Unlike other transit countries, Ecuador’s position as a transit country has just begun to be publicly addressed, having been more of a strategic public secret than a topic of public interest. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2016, this article discusses the dynamics of the (re)configuration of Ecuador as a transit country used by both immigrants and Ecuadorean deportees mainly from the United States to reach other destinations. It argues that this process should be interpreted in light of a series of historical and political elements in tension. The article suggests that the subtle presence of the United States’ externalized border, together with national political inconsistencies, have a repressive as well as a productive effect, which has functioned to produce a systemic form of selective control of transit mobility.
The Politics of Outsourced Immigration Enforcement in Mexico
While Mexico has been openly critical of US immigration enforcement policies, it has also served as a strategic partner in US efforts to externalize its immigration enforcement strategy. In 2016, Mexico returned twice as many Central Americans as did the United States, calling many to criticize Mexico for doing the United States’ “dirty work.” Based on ethnographic research and discourse analysis, this article unpacks and complicates the idea that Mexico is simply doing the “dirty work” of the United States. It examines how, through the construction of “dirty others”—as vectors of disease, criminals, smugglers, and workers—Central Americans come to embody “matter out of place,” thus threatening order, security, and the nation itself. Dirt and dirtiness, in both symbolic and material forms, emerge as crucial organizing factors in the politics of Central American transit migration, providing an important case study in the dynamics between transit and destination states.
Malaysian and Indonesian Responses to Australia's Migration and Border Policies
Antje Missbach and Gerhard Hoffstaedter
The growing literature on transit countries places much emphasis on the policy interventions of destination countries. In the case of Southeast Asia, Australian policies have disproportionate effects across borders into the region, including those of Indonesia and Malaysia. However, so-called transit countries also counterweigh foreign policy incursions with domestic politics, their own policies of externalizing their borders, and negotiations with destination countries to fund their domestic capacity. While Malaysia and Indonesia share many characteristics as transit countries, they are also noteworthy cases of how they negotiate their own interests in making difficult decisions regarding irregular migration in the region and how responsibility and burdens should be shared.