Ecologies of the Good Life: Forces, Bodies, and Cross-Cultural Encounters
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How do political responses to ecological problems shift once we take seriously the powers of natural forces to alter collective conditions and identities? What if the land was understood to be a co-creator of social life, and not simply an economic resource or material context for human action? Would not what counts as economy also change? This dissertation addresses these questions by examining pivotal thinkers in Western political thought, including Thoreau, Nietzsche, and Deleuze, in relation to the life-world of the Gurensi people of Ghana. It also explores the vital role that work in the visual arts and architecture can play in enhancing our sensitivities and forging negotiations between Western and African thought. The comparative project uses a blend of interpretive and ethnographic methods. It highlights interdependencies between human identities and natural processes and connects environmental political theory to a set of already existing sustainable practices and African knowledges.