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The Logic of Environmentalism: Anthropology, Ecology and Postcoloniality

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Volume 1

Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology

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The Logic of Environmentalism

Anthropology, Ecology and Postcoloniality

Vassos Argyrou

208 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-032-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (September 2005)

ISBN  978-1-84545-105-9 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (September 2005)

eISBN 978-1-78238-194-5 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…a fascinating journey through the European understanding of ‘nature’ as opposed to ‘humanism’…and interesting and provocative volume.”  ·   Journal of Biosocial Science

“…a powerful critique of contemporary environmentalism, and the anthropology that supports it.”  ·  Human Ecology

“Argyrou’s compelling argument has important implications for the future of conservation and development…the new ‘facts’ of environmentalism are no more objective or true than the old facts of modernism.”  ·  American Anthropologist

“This is…potentially an important book.”  ·  Environmental Politics


Although modernity’s understanding of nature and culture has now been superseded by that of environmentalism, the power to define the meaning of both, and hence the meaning of the world itself, remains in the same (Western) hands. This bold argument is at the center of this provocative book that challenges the widespread assumption that environmentalism reflects a radical departure from modernity. Our perception of nature may have changed, the author maintains, but environmentalism remains a thoroughly modernist project. It reproduces the cultural logic of modernity, a logic that finds meaning in unity and therefore strives to efface difference, and to reconfirm the position of the West as the source of all legitimate signification.

Vassos Argyrou lectures in Social Anthropology at the University of Hull. His research interests include social and cultural theory, poststructuralism and postcolonialism and southern Europe. Publications include Tradition and Modernity in the Mediterranean (Cambridge University Press, 1996) and Anthropology and the Will to Meaning: A Postcolonial Critique (Pluto Press 2002).

Subject: Environmental Studies (General) Anthropology (General)



Chapter 1. First Change

  • ‘The Idea of Nature’
  • ‘If we have no rivers, we make canals’
  • ‘Europeans are devotees of power’
  • ‘The Leap Across the Centuries’

Chapter 2. Second Change

  • ‘Only One Earth’
  • ‘This Sacred Earth’
  • ‘Our Debt to the Savage’

Chapter 3. The Logic of the Same

  • The Phenomenology of Change
  • ‘The Age of the World Picture’
  • Pure Humanity

Chapter 4. ‘Beyond Humanism’: and further to the other side

  • ‘The Religion of Humanity’, the Religion of Gaia and other Homologies
  • Pure Being

Chapter 5. No Change

  • On Hegemony
  • The Double Bind


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