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Deadly Truths and Lively Tensions: Saving Nature in the Era of Post-Truth and Platform Capitalism

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The post-truth conundrum presents an acute challenge to environmental conservation: how to share environmental facts in an era where the value of truth is questioned like never before? The answer, for many conservationists, is to share the truth about nature more vigorously than ever before, especially through new media platforms. In this paper I follow them as they they creatively struggle to do so. By developing an understanding of post-truth as an expression of power under platform capitalism, I argue this this strategy is contradictory, even deadly, but harbors lively theoretical tensions that deserve unpacking. Doing so not only has important implications for understanding nature-culture dualism, agency and ‘saving’ nature, it implores us to reconsider the importance of searching for truth as part of our ecological politics. I conclude by arguing for a conceptual move towards ‘dialectical entanglements’ in order to move beyond problematic tendencies in much theory in nature-society geography, political ecology and beyond.

Bram Büscher is Professor and Chair of the Sociology of Development and Change group at Wageningen University, The Netherlands and holds visiting positions at the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies of the University of Johannesburg and the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of Stellenbosch University, in South Africa. Between 2008 and 2015, he was Associate Professor of Environment and Sustainable Development at the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, the Netherlands.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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