The ecologies of “ecology”

by Arran James

To map the ecological network of the use of the word ecology- to discover the leaps it has made from this environmental niche (this particular ecological scientist) to this one (this particular example of environmentalism) to this one (this radicalisation of environmentalism: deep ecology; social ecology; whatever) to this particular ontological endeavour (Morton; Bryant; Bennett; Latour etc). To produce the sketch of such a discursive onto-cartography and to look for its remain-effects, its translational capacities in each instance; to give up on such an exhaustive work and instead look for the perspicuous representation of the movement of ecologies from the point where it was the 1960s great new promise to the point where everything has become ecological.

I am not suggesting that everything is not ecological. I am merely pointing out that this term has become hegemonic in certain philosophical, theoretical and political fields. The danger of the ubiquity of a term isn’t just in its being emptied of content (at least in general) but rather in Baudrillard’s accusation of Foucault on “power”. To paraphrase:


if everything appears as an ecology or as ecological, this can only be because the ecological has disappeared. 


This is more a provocation than a thesis I want to defend. What would it mean?