Oficina de Ecologia e Sociedade

Reading Group | Political Ecology Reading Group (2020-2021)

«The return of nature: Socialism and ecology» by John Bellamy Foster

February 25, 2021, 14h30 (GMT)

Online

Discussant: Jonas Van Vossole e Stefania Barca (CES) | Moderator: Rita Campos (CES)


Overview

Twenty years ago, John Bellamy Foster’s Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature introduced a new understanding of Karl Marx’s revolutionary ecological materialism. More than simply a study of Marx, it commenced an intellectual and social history, encompassing thinkers from Epicurus to Darwin, who developed materialist and ecological ideas. Now, with The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology, Foster continues this narrative. In so doing, he uncovers a long history of efforts to unite issues of social justice and environmental sustainability that will help us comprehend and counter today’s unprecedented planetary emergencies.
The Return of Nature begins with the deaths of Darwin (1882) and Marx (1883) and moves on until the rise of the ecological age in the 1960s and 1970s. Foster explores how socialist analysts and materialist scientists of various stamps, first in Britain, then the United States, from William Morris and Frederick Engels to Joseph Needham, Rachel Carson, and Stephen Jay Gould, sought to develop a dialectical naturalism, rooted in a critique of capitalism. In the process, he delivers a far-reaching and fascinating reinterpretation of the radical and socialist origins of ecology. Ultimately, what this book asks for is nothing short of revolution: a long, ecological revolution, aimed at making peace with the planet while meeting collective human needs.

This seminar is part of the Political Ecology Reading Group series 2020-21 of the Oficina de Ecologia e Sociedade (CES). If you wish to receive a copy of this paper, please contact ecosoc@ces.uc.pt

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