Regrounding the commons: Bruno Latour, ecological democracy, and nonhuman political representation

Ahern, Andrew (2020) Regrounding the commons: Bruno Latour, ecological democracy, and nonhuman political representation. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (644kB)


What is the relationship between science and politics, and especially as it concerns the entities of the sciences and the relevance they have in political processes? In the following thesis, I look to form proper political institutions around nonhuman entities through the work of Bruno Latour and his democratic-ecological ethos by way of his 2004 text the Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. In recognition of mass species extinction, the fragility of our soil, the warming climate, the rise of automation, the importance of carbon sequestration, and the various socio-economic problems attached to the environment—what is called political ecology—the old binary of science and politics as opposed, as one discipline concerned with technology and natural objects (science), and the other concerned with humans (politics), is becoming less and less tenable as we become more sensitive and inundated with the aforementioned issues. With the guidance of the sociologist of science Bruno Latour, these essays attempt to use Latour's framework of a technoscientific political process, plus an expanded sense of spokespersonship as representative institutions for nonhumans. In establishing these processes and institutions, I hope to help orient how we should understand our past failures in improper recognition of nonhumans, and how it is we can better bring nonhumans into democracy through the aid of Latour. By redefining politics as the issues that bring about a concerned public, Latour also looks to include nonhumans as a part of the public. Nonhumans as a public is one of the significant points through these pages. I hope to accomplish three things in this thesis. 1. Contribute to Latourian scholarship by providing exegesis around his 2004 text The Politics of Nature. 2. In doing this, I hope to better situate the current political ecology movements, as seen by a premier thinker concerned with climate change and the Anthropocene. In relation to that contribution, I would like to further establish Bruno Latour as a political theorist with a political philosophy that is worth examining. At the end of this work, I provide my own philosophic contribution in shaping policy and existing institutions in a warming and sea-rising technological future by the aid of Latour's institutional vision from the Politics of Nature. The reader will have to reconsider how they view politics, who the constituents are, and whom the "we" are when talking about a common world "we" would like to share. Arguably, the most radical vision for democratic politics in the 21st century is to include those things humans have historically tried to subjugate as mere objects, or the materials of Nature, or the work of social construction. The next step in the democratic project is to include the entities that without human subsistence would be futile: it is time to recognize multi-species living, the collaboration between nonhumans for the sake of human flourishing, and the work that politics can do in organizing a sense of commonality.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 14311
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 98-101).
Keywords: Bruno Latour, Political Ecology, Nonhuman politics, Nonhuman representation, Ecological Democracy
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: May 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Latour, Bruno; Political ecology; Animal rights--Political aspects.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics