Archaeology, climate change and environmental ethics: diachronic perspectives on human:non-human:environment worldviews, activism and care

Bibliographic Information

Article Title

Archaeology, climate change and environmental ethics: diachronic perspectives on human:non-human:environment worldviews, activism and care

Journal Title

World Archaeology

Author(s)

Shaw, Julia

Year of Publication

2016

Volume Number

48

Issue Number

4

Article Pages

449-465

Web Address (URL)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2016.1326754

Additional Information

Available Through

Taylor & Francis Online

Language

English

Notes

Abstract: This paper calls for archaeological engagement with the ethical dimension of past:present:future global environmental discourse and Anthropocene studies. In contrast to the recent chronological focus of archaeology’s engagement with Anthropocene studies, and its often rather generalised call for recognising the relevance of historically attested adaptive responses to climate change to current challenges, it highlights the need to examine the individual contributing and resulting factors of climate change and extreme environmental events. It advocates an approach that combines archaeology’s traditional focus on the practical and material elements of disaster management, with one that explores historical epistemologies of human:non-human care and entanglement, and socio-religious and collective ideological movements as driving forces behind historically specific environmental ethics. In relation to the ‘non-human’ element of the human:non-human:environment configuration there is special emphasis not only on non-human animals, but also conceptualisations of divine, ‘supra-human’, and numinous entities and spheres such as gods, spirits, and sacred places which are essential for attaining fully syncretic perspectives on diachronic environmental ethics. A key argument is that recognition of the multi-directional dynamics of human:environment entanglement, drawing on developments within religious studies, the environmental and medical humanities, as well as environmental health discourse, is critical for achieving more widespread engagement with environmental activism, and movement towards long term behavioural changes that ultimately reduce global suffering and increase environmental, economic and human wellbeing.

Additional tags: Anthropocene; climate change; environmental ethics; impacts on communities

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