Lambacher on ecological nostalgia at Pacific Northwest Political Science Conference


IAS faculty member Jason Lambacher presented a paper currently being worked on for publication at the PNW Political Science conference in Boise, ID in November 2019.  The paper argues technological, cultural, and environmental change has produced a world that is awash in nostalgia for what has vanished or is threatened with disappearance.  But while nostalgia is pervasive, it is often trivialized as sentimental – a distorted fetishization of lost worlds and experiences and the ghostly simulacra of the living, the vital, and the real. 

Ecological nostalgia, or the homesick yearning for experiences of nature, species, and historical environments, is a variant of nostalgia but shouldn’t be dismissed as a weak political sentiment because it holds great promise as a motivating source for green politics and praxis.  Drawing principally on the work of Simon Schama, Raymond Williams, Svetlana Boym, Glenn Albrecht, and Karen Litfin, the paper suggests connections between ecological nostalgia and childhood, species loss, dam removal, and gentrification.  It argues that as ecological nostalgia becomes a widespread counterpoint to 21st century environmental change, it should be given greater critical attention by environmental political theorists and activists looking to understand the productive potential of an overlooked and oft-derided emotional, cultural, and political construct.

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