Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Book on Earth Ethics/Narmada Bacaho Andolan

Alternatives Unincorporated: Earth Ethics From The Grassroots

George Zachariah 

Contextual theologies, in general, tend to ignore the methodological significance of the collective politics of the subjects, and thus lead to an apolitical essentialism in contemporary discourses. The dominant strands of ecotheology and environmental ethics are examples of this common denominator approach, where dominant readings of the crisis of the earth, viewed from apparently nowhere, are presented as meta-narratives, and panaceas are prescribed claiming universal validity and applicability. In spite of the attempts to recognize the interrelationship between ecological justice and wider justice concerns, a methodological commitment to underscore the agency of the victims of environmental destruction seems to be missing in the discourses. This is the context in which a constructive attempt towards an earth ethics from the grassroots becomes relevant. This book, therefore, attempts to construct an earth ethics from the grassroots in the crucible of subaltern political practice, invoking the Narmada Bachao Andolan (the Save Narmada Movement in India) as text, and proposes that the social movements are theological texts. Social movements as discursive sites can inform the construction of an earth ethics that is life affirming, communitarian and liberating. An earth ethics from the grassroots, hence, is the vision of an engaged collectivity of the subaltern communities and their lives on earth in communion with all other living beings. It describes how the subalterns perceive the realities that continue to make them powerless, and reduce all life forms into commodities to be plundered and exploited. An earth ethics from the grassroots envisions the interconnectedness between social justice, differences and environmental degradation. It unmasks the brutal face of development and globalization. It underscores the reclamation of the moral agency of the subalterns as foundational to their political praxis. Earth ethics from the grassroots, therefore, is a vision and praxis to interpret the reality and to change it radically from the subaltern standpoint so that a different world may become a contemporary reality. Subaltern earth ethics is about alternatives: alternatives unincorporated. It further rejects all theological and ethical discourses mediated from detached and disembodied views from seemingly nowhere, and instead proposes alternative narratives informed by the oppositional gaze of the subalterns. Earth ethics from the grassroots is alternative as it subverts the prevailing social and ecological relations. It does not stop there. By demystifying the doctrine of the totalitythere is no alternativeearth ethics from the grassroots strives to create alternatives to celebrate the foretaste of a different world and to demonstrate that there are alternatives.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. The Crisis of Earth: A View from the Grassroots 3. The Narmada Saga: A Valley that Refuses to Die 4. Social Movements as Text: Subaltern Reflections on Epistemology 5. Mapping Grassroots Earth Ethics: Methodological Musings 6. Conclusion: Alternatives Unincorporated

About the Author

George Zachariah serves the Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute, Chennai, India as associate professor in the field of theology and ethics. His theological and ethical reflections are informed by his involvement in social movements.

The book is a fresh attempt to engage with questions about environmental crisis and developmental issues in the context of India by methodologically approaching the subaltern social movements as 'texts' for theological and ethical reflections. The book attempts to propose an Earth Ethics from a subaltern vantage point that sprouts from a 'non-anthropocentric' anthropocentrism for an alternative understanding of the contemporary developmental-environmental crises. The book presents the rich tapestry of post-developmentalist thought within the milieu of discourse ethics, by mellifluously blending theory with the experiences of the people at the grassroots.

Publisher:Equinox Publishing Ltd


Monday, May 16, 2011

First Meetings: A Poem by Arseniy Tarkovsky

Every moment that we were together
Was a celebration, like Epiphany,
In all the world the two of us alone.
You were bolder, lighter than a bird's wing,
Heady as vertigo you ran downstairs
Two steps at a time, and led me
Through damp lilac, into your domain
On the other side, beyond the mirror.

When night came I was granted favour,
The gates before the altar opened wide
And in the dark our nakedness was radiant
As slowly it inclined. And waking
I would say, 'Blessings upon you!'
And knew my benediction was presumptuous:
You slept, the lilac stretched out from the table
To touch your eyelids with a universe of blue,
And you received the touch upon your eyelids
And they were still, and still your hand was warm.

Vibrant rivers lay inside the crystal,
Mountains loomed through mist, seas foamed,
And you held a crystal sphere in your hands,
Seated on a throne as still you slept,
And—God in heaven!—you belonged to me.

You awoke and you transfigured
The words that people' utter every day,
And speech was filled to overflowing
With ringing power, and the word 'you'
Discovered its new purport: it meant 'king.
Ordinary objects were at once transfigured,
Everything—the jug, the basin—when
Placed between us like a sentinel
Stood water, laminary and firm.
We were led, not knowing whither,
Like mirages before us there receded
Cities built by miracle,
Wild mint was laying itself beneath our feet,
Birds travelling by the same route as ourselves,
And in the river fishes swam upstream;
And the sky unrolled itself before our eyes.
When fate was following in our tracks
Like a madman with a razor in his hand."

Arseniy Tarkovsky (tarkovsky's father)
(Translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair)
Quoted by Andre Tharkovsky in Sculpting in Time, p.100