Chinnagounder's Challenge

Chinnagounder's Challenge

The Question of Ecological Citizenship
Deane W. Curtin
Distribution: World
Publication date: 09/13/2001
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-21330-3
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... an important contribution to environmental philosophy.... includes provocative discussions of institutional and systemic violence, indigenous resistance to ‘development,’ the land ethic, deep ecology, ecofeminism, women’s ecological knowledge, Jeffersonian agrarian republicanism, Berry’s ideas about ‘principled engagement in community,’ wilderness advocacy, and the need for an attachment to place." —Choice

[T]his is a very important book, raising serious questions for development theorists and environmentalists alike." —Boston Book Review

When Indian centenarian Chinnagounder asked Deane Curtin about his interest in traditional medicine, especially since he wasn’t working for a drug company looking to patent a new discovery, Curtin wondered whether it was possible for the industrialized world to interact with native cultures for reasons other than to exploit them, develop them, and eradicate their traditional practices. The answer, according to Curtin, defines the ethical character of what we typically call 'progress.' Despite the familiar assertion that we live in a global village, cross-cultural environmental and social conflicts are often marked by failures of communication due to deeply divergent assumptions. Curtin articulates a response to Chinnagounder’s challenge in terms of a new, distinctly postcolonial, environmental ethic.

Author Bio

Deane Curtin is Raymong and Florence Sponberg Chair of Ethics and Professor of Philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College. He is co-editor of Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food (Indiana University Press). He has lived and taught in India, Japan, and Italy and has published on deep ecology, ecofeminism, and contemporary Gandhian resistance to development.

Reviews

“"Curtin offers an important contribution to environmental philosophy. Though concerned with proposing an American environmental ethic, he shows that such an ethic requires an intercultural context." —Choice " . . . this is a very important book, raising serious questions for development theorists and environmentalists alike." —The Boston Book Review Just who is Chinnagounder? He is one man in India, trying to deal with the competing stresses of postcolonialism and environmentalism—a man to whom Deane Curtin introduces us in this sophisticated work of public philosophy which explores questions such as: Can indigenous peoples define the terms of change for themselves? What impact does postcolonialism have on population, social justice, and women’s rights? How can inhabitants of our global village balance the preservation of wild nature and the ever-increasing need for access to land and to safe food and water?”

“"Curtin offers an important contribution to environmental philosophy. Though concerned with proposing an American environmental ethic, he shows that such an ethic requires an intercultural context." —Choice " . . . this is a very important book, raising serious questions for development theorists and environmentalists alike." —The Boston Book Review Just who is Chinnagounder? He is one man in India, trying to deal with the competing stresses of postcolonialism and environmentalism—a man to whom Deane Curtin introduces us in this sophisticated work of public philosophy which explores questions such as: Can indigenous peoples define the terms of change for themselves? What impact does postcolonialism have on population, social justice, and women’s rights? How can inhabitants of our global village balance the preservation of wild nature and the ever-increasing need for access to land and to safe food and water?”

“Curtin (philosophy, Gustavus Adolphus College) offers an important contribution to environmental philosophy. Though concerned with proposing an American environmental ethic, he shows that such an ethic requires an intercultural context. On a research trip to India, Curtin met a centenarian, Chinnagounder, who told of environmental displacement and economic upheaval by Western developers and planters. Finding the dominant Western proposals for environmental ethics misguided, especially regarding the intrinsic/extrinsic value-of-nature question, Curtin argues that though Western social values appear just from within, they may produce grave injustice when exported. Ethics, he thinks, especially environmental ethics, must emerge in situ, through attachment to place. In developing his theory, Curtin makes excellent use of McIntyre's concept of a practice as including internal goods not reducible to external values. The consequent moral pluralism is not cultural relativism; rather, Curtin proposes a critical ecocommunitarianism, issuing from a substantive relationship with nature but recognizing the need to face criticism from within and without. Just that clarification of what pluralism might mean makes the book worthwhile, but Curtin also includes provocative discussions of institutional and systemic violence, indigenous resistance to development, the land ethic, deep ecology, ecofeminism, women's ecological knowledge, Jeffersonian agrarian republicanism, Berry's ideas about principled engagement in community, wilderness advocacy, and the need for an attachment to place. Upper—division undergraduates through professionals.June 2000”
 — W. Ouderkirk, SUNY Empire State College

“Curtin (philosophy, Gustavus Adolphus College) offers an important contribution to environmental philosophy. Though concerned with proposing an American environmental ethic, he shows that such an ethic requires an intercultural context. On a research trip to India, Curtin met a centenarian, Chinnagounder, who told of environmental displacement and economic upheaval by Western developers and planters. Finding the dominant Western proposals for environmental ethics misguided, especially regarding the intrinsic/extrinsic value-of-nature question, Curtin argues that though Western social values appear just from within, they may produce grave injustice when exported. Ethics, he thinks, especially environmental ethics, must emerge in situ, through attachment to place. In developing his theory, Curtin makes excellent use of McIntyre's concept of a practice as including internal goods not reducible to external values. The consequent moral pluralism is not cultural relativism; rather, Curtin proposes a critical ecocommunitarianism, issuing from a substantive relationship with nature but recognizing the need to face criticism from within and without. Just that clarification of what pluralism might mean makes the book worthwhile, but Curtin also includes provocative discussions of institutional and systemic violence, indigenous resistance to development, the land ethic, deep ecology, ecofeminism, women's ecological knowledge, Jeffersonian agrarian republicanism, Berry's ideas about principled engagement in community, wilderness advocacy, and the need for an attachment to place. Upper—division undergraduates through professionals.June 2000”
 — W. Ouderkirk, SUNY Empire State College

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Preface and Acknowledgments

Part 1. Nature and Culture: Living at the Margins
1. Turning South
2. The British Utilitarians and the Invention of the "Third World"
3. War and Peace: The Politics of Agricultural "Modernization"
4. Gandhian Legacies: Indigenous Resistance to "Development" in Contemporary India and Mexico
5. Recognizing Women's Environmental Expertise

Part 2: Radical First World Environmental Philosophy: A New Colonialism?
6. Callicott's Land Ethic
7. A State of Mind Like Water: Ecosophy T and the Buddhist Traditions
8. Ecological Feminism and the Place of Caring

Part 3. Democratic Pluralism
9. Democractic Discourse in a Morally Pluralistic World
10. Putting Down Roots: Ecocommunities and the Practice of Freedom

Notes
References