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'Toxic Dwelling? The Ecocides of Globalised Consumer Society' by Professor Owain Jones
Wednesday 8th May, 18:15
Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, BA2 4DB
Event Information:
This final talk in the Bath Spa University Public Lecture Series at the Holburne Museum for 2018-19 is given by Owain Jones, Professor of Enviornmental Humanities. Doors will open at 6pm.

In this talk, Professor Owain Jones will explore how globalsied capitalist consumer cultures (GCCCs) create what is being termed ‘toxic dwellings’. These are ways of being-in-the-world which are (apparently) experientially rich and fulfilling, but which are also toxic to the well-being of individuals, communities and the environment in the way they are produced, consumed and disposed of. The toxicities of these production-consumption-disposal systems span between the physical, cultural and physic; they are the engines of ecocide of these ‘three ecologies’ as (Guattari 2000) sets out. Why, when the existential severity of the global environmental crisis has been ever more starkly set out since at least 1962 with Rachael Carson’s expose of toxicity in Silent Sprint, has modern society not only failed to respond, but rather rushed headlong into ever-deepening systems of economy and culture which are the renderers of ecocide? Professor Jones suggests that the power of GCCC stems in part from exploiting the fact that humans innately and inevitably (seek to) dwell. That is, live out forms of rich, deep, local eco-social immersively embedded lives through space and time. Humans, (and similar animals), desire to dwell, they need to dwell to fulfil individual and collective becoming. As argued by Heidegger and others, industrialization, and latterly GCCC, has eroded the conditions of dwelling for humans and non-humans alike, causing forms of mental and physical dysfunction by and through degradation of culture and environment. The extra step taken here is to add that that GCCC does not simply degrade and close off the grounds of dwelling, but also offer alternative forms of apparently rich becoming by creating ‘worlds’, and narratives, that people can literally buy into, and create identity , lifestyle and even ‘community’ through immersion in them, and consumption of them. The extraordinary creative energy at the heart of GCCC creates an apparent richness-of-world and a maelstrom of images and narratives and material/experiential richness in which people can apparently immersively dwell and perform identity. Alienation, depression, obesity, and various other pathologies are indicators in modern humans of eroded and toxic dwelling. The demand for physical resources and the physical pollution stemming from GCCC, is intertwined with the cultural pollution and degradation and mental pollution which impacts both modern and non-modern cultures alike in a way that makes sense of Guattari’s notion of the interlinked ecocide of The Three Ecologies – bio, cultural and individual physic diversity.

Owain Jones is a cultural geographer, became the first Professor of Environmental Humanities in the UK in 2014 at Bath Spa University, and is now deputy director of the newly formed Research Centre for the Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa. He has published over 80 scholarly articles and four books (co-edited/authored) – Visual Culture in the Northern British Archipelago: Imagining Islands (2018); Participatory Research in More-Than-Human Worlds (2017); Geography and Memory: Identity, Place and Becoming (2012); and Tree Cultures: Places of Trees (2002). He recently led a £1.5 million Arts and Humanities Research Council Connected Communities project into water and community with eight UK universities, community partners and artists in four UK case study areas. He is supervising four Environmental Humanities PhDs with art practice.

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