In this lecture, we will discuss when and how the environment became a moral subject. Through contrasting ethical positions of conventional farmers, environmentalists, policy developers and consumers, it will be shown how the hybrid character of agency and morality and their dynamic interplay (a) shape these actors' interpretation of the environment; (b) and these actors’ relationship toward the environment. Consequently, we will look at how the environmental interventionism, contrary to expected outcomes, too often causes too many contrasting effects. In the concluding part, instead of thinking about the environment in terms of the battlefield of values, powers, and networks, a methodological approach will be suggested that might better equip future research for detecting new cultural forms and more harmonized relationship toward the environment.
Jovana Dikovic is a social anthropologist currently running her postdoctoral research project at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies of the University of Zurich where she also teaches. In her career, she focused and studied rural Balkans. Her research and publications are mainly concerned with the understanding of change in rural areas, ethics of production and soil, institution building and cooperation. In her ongoing project “Farming under barricades: Study of cooperation in post-conflict Kosovo”, she analyses farming in the context of post-war institutional anguish and stabilisation of inter-ethnic relationships.