Catastrophic futures, anxious presents: lifestyle activism and hope in the permaculture movement in Turkey
Abiral, Bürge (2015) Catastrophic futures, anxious presents: lifestyle activism and hope in the permaculture movement in Turkey. [Thesis]
This thesis presents a critical exploration of the permaculture movement in Turkey from various interlocking angles. An ecological landscape design system that functions with the ethical values of caring for people and for Earth as well as sharing the surplus, permaculture was introduced in Australia in the 1970s, and became a worldwide movement which refrains from using a political language despite its ultimate desire to establish a “global alternative nation” that consists of ecological and self-sufficient communities. Through ethnographic fieldwork with permaculture groups, I explore the reflections of this movement and its post-ideological language in the post-coup neoliberal context in Turkey. I first describe the process of becoming a permaculturist through the narratives of my interlocutors who are mostly educated, middle and uppermiddle class urbanites. Exploring how their consumer habitus shifts to an ecological habitus, I argue that this transformation is already enabled by the privileged positions occupied by permaculturists in society. I then evaluate the lifestyle strategies that they employ to enact change in the world, and I claim that the conception of social change in permaculture replicates Bourdieu’s theory of practice. I then examine the post-political nature of permaculture and discuss its transformative potential. Finally, I turn to the catastrophic scenarios that circulate among permaculturists about the future of the Earth, and argue that permaculturists produce two forms of hope, anxious hope and catastrophic hope, the interaction of which places hope both in the present and the future.
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