Episode 6: Challenging Human Supremacy

Eric GarzaIn this episode of A Worldview Apart Eric explores the ideological underpinnings of anthropocentrism, which is the widely-held idea that human beings are the most important species on Earth and perhaps in the universe.  By defining how we view our relationship to the landscapes we inhabit and the other species we share those landscapes with, this ideology drives many of the negative environmental impacts that human beings have on the world today.

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4 Comments

  1. Arthur Haines August 1, 2017 at 11:27

    Eric, thanks for making this audio available. It was enjoyable to listen to and there was a lot of great information included that could benefit many people. I was saddened a bit to hear the usual reference to cultural appropriation regarding practices that all hunters should partake in–practices that would help hunters enter a state of mindfulness and gratefulness. These ceremonies need to be widely practiced and won’t ever if everyone is constantly fearful of being criticized and judged. I too would like to see the nature disconnection and evident hierarchy of civilization dismantled, but I’m coming to understand that civilization cannot exist without such features being present. We are often hoping for the rise of something new, but nearly every new technology and practice we embark on often has unforeseen (or sometimes, very obvious) consequences and never lives up to what we hoped it would be. Considering we are ingrained with 7 million years of evolution (i.e., the old), perhaps it’s time for us to figure out a “pseudoreturn”–identifying how we can use our ancestral practices in today’s world. I hope people like you continue to think on this problem because I find your words compassionate and respectful. Ktankeyasin (take care of yourself).

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    1. Eric Garza August 1, 2017 at 20:45

      Thanks for the comment Arthur. Having rituals that encourage mindfulness surrounding subsistence activities is indeed an important thing, but I don’t think it’s necessary or even useful for us to simply mimic those used by indigenous people who lived here prior to European colonization. For that reason, I see value in discussions of cultural appropriation and am willing to open myself to critiques of it in my own habits and behaviors. As an example, the ritual I mentioned wherein I made an offering of corn meal would have had a very different meaning to someone hunting on that land 600 years prior. The people hunting on that land before (Abenaki) had a very different relationship to corn, and thus cornmeal, than I do today. The varieties of corn they raised were different, the ecological context in which it was raised was very different, and the ecological impacts it had on the landscape was very different. Their use of corn as a staple crop implied a very different relationship with the landscape than the corn I have access to today does. So for me to mimic their use of corn meal as an offering doesn’t capture the same relationships and commitment to place that their offering of cornmeal might have. I think it undermines my own goal of connection to pretend it does, or can. It’s taken me years of thinking about this issue to reach that point, but nonetheless that’s where I’ve gotten. The question, then, is what sort of ritual can I partake in that signifies for me, in the modern world in which I live, the same deep sense of connection to land that I strive for? This is a question I’m still working on.

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  2. Layla AbdelRahim August 4, 2017 at 16:34

    Eric, I wonder if you are aware that the critique you are presenting of Human Supremacy and anthropocentrism, predation, that Human Supremacy and hierarchical thinking (ideology) forms the foundation of all types of oppressions such as racism, sexism, and speciesism, and that these premises are imbued in religious, scientific, and folkloric narratives is an eloquent exposition of my doctoral dissertation titled “Order and the Literary Rendering of Chaos” (available online at the University of Montreal since 2011 and widely shared online) and of my book published by Routledge (the first chapter was available for free online since 2014), titled “Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness”:
    http://www.routledge.com/authors/i10144-layla-abdelrahim

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    1. Eric Garza August 4, 2017 at 20:43

      I wasn’t aware of your work, but thanks so much for posting! I will see if my library has your book. I’m sure it would be a great read.

      Reply

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