How to imagine a sustainable world

Crawford School of Public Policy | Resources, Environment and Development Group

Event details

RE&D Research Seminar

Date & time

Thursday 13 June 2024


ANU Online Zoom Meeting


Professor Tim Ingold


Simon West

Recording of this seminar is available on YouTube.

Sustainability is about carrying life on. If it is to mean anything, it must be for everyone and everything, and not for some to the exclusion of others. What kind of world, then, has a place for everyone and everything, both now and into the future? What does it mean for such a world to carry on? And how can we make it happen? To answer these questions, I take a closer look at what we mean by ‘everything’. I argue that it is not the sum of minimally existing entities, joined into ever larger and more complex structures, but a a fluid and heterogeneous plenum from within which things emerge as folds. How, then, does such an understanding of everything affect our concept of sustainability? It can no longer be understood in terms of the numerical balance of recruitment and loss. It is rather about lifecycles, about things’ lasting. In the sustainability of everything there is no opposition between stability and change. The more that global science has committed itself to a numerical calculus of sustainability, the more it has fallen to art to present the alternative. This has crucial implications for the ways we think about democratic citizenship.

Bio: Tim Ingold is Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He has carried out fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written on environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, on animals in human society, and on human ecology and evolutionary theory. His more recent work explores environmental perception and skilled practice. Ingold’s current interests lie on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. Ingold is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2022 he was made a CBE for services to Anthropology.

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