Voicing the environment: Latour, Peirce and an expanded politics

Authors: George Revill*, The Open University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Cultural Geography, Communication
Keywords: Environmental Politics, Bruno Latour, Charles Snaders Peirce
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Tower Court B, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Second Floor Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper takes work by Bruno Latour as the starting point from which to critically examine conceptual moves needed to develop a conception of voice appropriate for an expanded environmental politics which expresses the interests of human and nonhumans alike. A conception of human language and the rational speaking subject as the benchmark for entry into political debate and decision making is a central problem for theorising an expanded politics. Strong arguments suggest that an expanded politics cannot be founded in a model for the right to speak which reproduces and divide between human and nonhuman worlds. The paper draws on this critique to suggest a conception of voice sympathetic both to Latour’s more recent AIME project and Dobson’s understanding of political voice grounded in agency.

This paper takes work by Bruno Latour as the starting point from which to critically examine conceptual moves needed to develop a conception of voice appropriate for an expanded environmental politics expressing the interests of humans and nonhumans alike. It draws on the twin formulations of phenomenology and semiotics developed by the American pragmatist philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) to outline a conception of voice as agental socio-material assemblage grounded in a relational spatiality. This semiotic ecology shows how meaningful effects translate and transform between human and non-human and across boundaries marking different, life worlds and sensoria.

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