The construction of nature and the nature of construction: analytical and political tools for building survivable futures
Nature, it seems, is on the agenda as never before. At a time of politicaleconomic transformations global in reach and of unrivaled dynamism, technological changes of astonishing power and unfathomable extent, and apocalyptic pronouncements of ecological catastrophe and cultural crisis, the matter of nature has become a pressing issue, yet one bewildering in its complexity. From biotechnology to "wilderness" preservation, from the exciting medical promises and dark eugenic possibilities of the Human Genome Project to the moral imperatives and neo-imperialist rhetorics mixed together in discourses of "biodiversity," and from the complex politics of deforestation in India to the equally important struggles over models of global warming in Washington, nature is something imagined and real, external yet made, outside history but fiercely contested at every turn. It is at once everywhere and nowhere, the foundation for all "life" and the elusive subject of theoretical and political debate. As we face the twenty-first century, the matter of nature is no less difficult than Raymond Williams (1976) found it more than twenty years ago, and perhaps far more consequential.