Sustainability is about carrying life on, not about the achievement and maintenance of a steady state. Moreover it must be for everyone and everything, and not with the exclusion of others. What kind of world, has a place for everyone and everything? What does it mean for such a world to carry on, and how can we make it happen? Environmental anthropologist, Tim Ingold, addresses these questions head on.
In this lecture leading environmental anthropologist Tim Ingold takes a closer look at what we mean by ‘everything’, he will argue that it is not the sum total of minimally existing entities, joined together into ever larger and more complex structures, but rather a fluid and heterogeneous plenum from within which things emerge as crumples and folds. How, then, Ingold asks, does such an understanding of everything affect our concept of sustainability? It can no longer be understood, as in dominant political and economic discourses, in terms of the numerical balance of recruitment and loss. It is rather about life-cycles, about things’ lasting, not staying the same. In the sustainability of everything there is no opposition between stability and change.
The more that global science has committed itself to a numerical calculus of sustainability, and to grandiose technological solutions, the more it has fallen to art to present a viable alternative. It is an alternative, as Ingold will show, that entails adopting an entirely different relation to the world, with crucial implications for the ways we think about education, community, freedom and democratic citizenship.
This keynote talk is presented in association with the exhibition A Vague Anxiety and related research of featured artist Saidhbhín Gibson whose work explores the precarious interference of human and the natural worlds.
Tim Ingold is emeritus professor of social anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, and a fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In his writing he explores the human as a living organism which feels its way through the world that is itself in motion, constantly creating and being changed by spaces and places as they are encountered.
Ingold began his career with ethnographic fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, which led him to look comparatively at hunting, pastoralism and ranching as alternative modes of livelihood in the region. This drew him to the study of human-animal relations, and thence to wider questions of ecology and evolutionary theory. In addressing these questions, he has sought to replace traditional models of genetic and cultural transmission with a relational approach focusing on the growth of skills of perception and action within socio-environmental contexts of development. Latterly he has embarked on a wide-ranging study of lines and line-making in diverse fields of creative practice, ranging from walking to drawing, writing and storytelling. Spanning the interface between anthropology, art, architecture and design, his most recent research, funded by the European Research Council, has re-examined the relations between making and knowing. He discusses his entire career in an article, “From science to art and back again: The pendulum of an anthropologist”, published in 2016.
This talk took place on Fri 9 Aug 3019 at IMMA