The workshop addresses the growing popularity of post-constructivist perspectives within the social sciences and humanities and explores their implications for environmental politics. These perspectives, which include ontological, posthumanist, and new materialist schools of thought, have compelled many researchers to account for the ways in which a wide range of nonhuman actors and objects influence political processes. Yet these attempts have also been criticized for contributing to or even undermining the environmental politics needed to confront the daunting threats to future of life on earth.

For the workshop, Robert Fletcher explores different positions within this debate and proposes that only a via media offers a productive path forward. Taking the important challenges advanced by post-constructivist perspectives seriously, one can nonetheless ask where they advance an effective environmental politics. The workshop focuses on the so-called ‘ontological turn’ within social anthropology and related fields. Proponents of this perspective commonly present themselves as promoting a radical, even revolutionary politics. Yet others have seen in them a post-political intervention that may undermine the ability to take a firm stance among the various perspectives competing in today’s political landscape. Fletcher suggests that a certain understanding of ontology – what he calls a ‘strong ontological position’ – is indeed incompatible with the type of political engagement that an effective environmental politics demands. The strong ontological option, Fletcher argues, leaves actors with only two options: brute power politics or a retreat into ontological particularity. He concludes that a strong ontological position is incompatible with – and indeed, quite detrimental to – both research and political engagement committed to social and environmental justice.

In English

Robert Fletcher

An ICI Event organized by

Y. Ariadne Collins

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.

KV The Ontological Turn

Please note: there is no need to register for the evening lecture, but the workshop session will discuss reading materials from Robert Fletcher. Unfortunately the workshop is already fully booked.