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Time for politics: How a conceptual history of forests can help us politicize the long term
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2017 (English)In: European Journal of Social Theory, ISSN 1368-4310, E-ISSN 1461-7137, Vol. 20, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

In a recent scholarly debate, the Anthropocene concept has been criticized for diverting attention from the political aspects of contemporary environmental crises, not least by way of the long timescales it implies. This article therefore takes on the matter of long-termism as an historical and political phenomenon, by applying a conceptual historical perspective. Examples are drawn from historical studies of forest politics. It is argued that conceptions of the long term, as in all concepts in political language, are historical and therefore problematic to legitimately define conclusively. However, many of the environmental crises looming in our time do indeed call for long-term perspectives. As a solution in accordance with its historical and democratic conceptual character, it is suggested that political long-termism paradoxically can and should be constantly deliberated upon and renewed in the short term. Its conceptual history can then serve two purposes: First, history can offer exempla of how long-termism can be conceptualized and institutionalized in ways that encourage continuous deliberation and reconceptualization. Second, historical conceptualizations of the long term can be drawn upon, both negatively and positively, in this continuous deliberation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2017. Vol. 20, no 1
Keyword [en]
Anthropocene, Conceptual History, Environmental history, Political Concepts, Intellectual History
National Category
History of Ideas
Research subject
History of Sciences and Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-297645DOI: 10.1177/1368431016653241OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-297645DiVA: diva2:942687
Political Representation of Future Generations: Sustainability in Political Language, France 1780–1850
Swedish Research Council, 2014-1492
Available from: 2016-06-26 Created: 2016-06-26 Last updated: 2016-08-15

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Publisher's full texthttp://est.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/06/20/1368431016653241.abstract

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Nordblad, Julia
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