Inaugural Conference: Anthropological Visions of Sustainable Futures University College London, 12th -14th February 2015
What constitutes an anthropological critique of the sustainability paradigm? What could an anthropological agenda for sustainability look like?
Anthropology is uniquely positioned to contribute towards knowledge about sustainability. It has done so, at least implicitly, for many years. Long before the 1987 Brundtland Report brought the phrase ‘sustainable development’ into common currency, anthropologists have contributed rigorous challenges and trenchant critiques to related concepts such as ‘economic man’, ‘modernity’, and ‘development’, while also producing holistic, fine-grained sociocultural analyses of local ecological systems.
Despite this, there is as yet no such thing as an ‘anthropology of sustainability’. This may result from the discipline’s healthy scepticism of the rhetoric of international institutions and interventions currently using the term. Yet, if anthropological theory has something practical to contribute to the world, it is surely by engaging with, and deconstructing, concepts such as ‘sustainability’.