Anthropology and the nature-society-development nexus
The paper starts with the intellectual journey I embarked on after organizing a conference entitled ‘Ecological threats and new promises of sustainability for the 21st Century.’ I was staggered by the massive adoption of sustainability as a core value at a time when it had become largely accepted within academic circles that ‘sustainable development’ was no more than an unworkable ideological discourse. This led me to document the translation of sustainability into a range of practices and modes of living aimed at protecting the evolving maintenance of integrated social and ecological systems. Over the last few years, I have documented ethnographically the material and embodied responses to the ecological crisis that many individuals, communities, and associations of all kinds offer through their sustainability projects. I argue that these projects are best approached through an analytical lens that reworks simultaneously nature, society and development. The paper outlines key aspects of the proposed framework. Examples from the research on agroecology I have conducted with my students in recent years provide most of the illustrations.