The Space Between – 2016

The space in-between anthropocentrism and ecocentrism is a challenging space.  In this borderland, we enter an area characterized by hybridity.  Emerging ecocentrics are hard to  identify because they may still be part of both cultural worlds as they navigate a paradigm shift.

Emerging ecocentrics learn to be contemporary global citizens” where ‘emerging’ emphasizes the deconstruction of dominant stories of place (decolonization) and the “collective and relational making of new place stories (re-inhabitation)” (Somerville, 2010, p.340).  In this space in-between, we draw on critical thinking and indigenous philosophy to develop move from deconstruction to reconstruction of space, place and body, using three principles:

  • Relationship to place is constituted in stories, metaphors and symbols: “Stories bring nature into culture and ascribe meaning to places, species and processes that would otherwise remain silent to the human ear” (p.336).
  • Learning to live deeply in a Place is a “deep, embodied intimacy” that “gives rise to a different ontolo17_child with worldgy of self becoming-other in the space between self and a natural world” (p.338) – a relationship of tenderness (Boff, np).
  • Learning to live deeply in Place occurs in the contact zone of contested borderland spaces that link indigenous histories to colonial histories; it requires difficult borderwork to negotiate differences and to tell new narratives by entering “the space in-between” colonized nature and the nature experienced by the colonized (Somerville, p.338f).

The process of becoming ecocentric incorporates elements of our history, who we imagine ourselves to be, and our embodied relationships with others (p.340) in an emergent ontology that begins in a “space of becoming in-between one state of being and another” (Somerville, 2007, p.240) – a generative space with a wide-angled view at the cusp of culture.  We become like Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, in that far-seeing into an ecocentric future requires digging deep into the roots of indigeneity, while recognizing our participation in anthropocentric misappropriations of place and cultural identity.  We learn to tell new narratives from “the space in-between.”

This section is now articulated as Sojourning through The Space Between.   karlos_whiteshell