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Title: Becoming friends of the earth : an anthropology of global environmentalism
Author: Gatt, Caroline
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 0632
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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Friends of the Earth International (FoE!) is a federation of 76 'national' non-governmental organisations. The overall question of the thesis is: What are the processes by which FoEI activists come to accept that FoEI, and national FoE member-groups, exist and have effect as entities? The thesis is an ethnographic exploration of how these organisations are constituted, maintained and have effects in the world. The project addresses two shortcomings in current social science. First, studies of environmentalism in anthropology have so far largely focused on subordinate groups or on the inhabitants of particular areas facing environmental issues, rather than on international arenas of environmental activism. Second, much of the literature on globalization in social theory remains detached from people's daily experiences. This thesis compensates for these shortcomings by focusing on an international environmental federation and by grounding theoretical discussions of globalisation in which environmentalism is given a central place. The thesis interrogates claims of 'global environmentalism' ethnographically through a phenomenological framework. Anthropological approaches to macro-scale issues have either discarded or struggled with phenomenology due to its apparently inherent micro-scale approach. I propose a synthesis of the approaches of Ingold, Latour and Haraway that I call ecological phenomenology. This synthesis provides a theoretical framework within which a range of scales can be taken into account. In the course of my argument, I develop three concepts to map and explore the simultaneous workings of impersonal structure and personal agency. These are: fields offorces, vectors and direction of attention. I propose to substitute these notions for the more traditional notion of 'relations' in anthropology. The interplay of vectors more precisely explains how the various types of entities (including supra-personal institutions) that FoE activists encounter are formed, the agency they exert, as well as the effectiveness of activists' personal power in dealing with them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Environmentalism