Reply To: Mon 17 Feb: World Systems, History and Ecology

Author Replies
Sarah Rodrigue-Allouche # Posted on February 19, 2014 at 13:09

Reply to Anna S. by Sarah R.
Thank you for your very interesting comments and the insight that your research in archaeology provides you. I agree with you that the discipline of archaeology can help us understand the relationships between humans and nature, and thus humans’ organization of nature, outside of the western world. Moore’s ideas that nature can no longer be construed as external are essential to the field of archaeology and environmental history in general. Your research in the Amboseli basin in Kenya will probably benefit from your readings of Jason W. Moore. Indeed, capitalism as world-ecology and the logic of endless accumulation shape stakeholders’ conflicts even in the most remote areas of the world todays. This reminds me of a lecture by Dr. Anneli Ekblom within the “Global environmental history” program at the beginning of the year when she highlighted that today the western ideas of progress and advancement shape the whole world’s mentality, even the tiniest Mozambique villages where she conducts her fieldwork. It seems that we can’t escape this system of capitalism as world-ecology wherever in the world we find ourselves.
About the future of capitalism, I surely agree with Moore that capitalism has come to an end. It is no longer possible to live within the current scheme we are in. Although Moore argues we have reached the “end of cheap food” and not the end of food per se, I would defend the idea that food in itself has come to an end. It is not food that we are eating in the “Capitalocene” but some kind of mixed chemicals that taste like food. The current capitalism as world-ecology system has led the breadbaskets of the world to produce more and more grains in order to achieve higher surplus quantities and larger cheaper amounts of calories for westerners leading to decreasing health and overweight issues and the reign of low price satisfaction in the fast-food nations. But the biotech regime embodied by greedy corporations such as the murderous Monsanto can no longer sustain this cheap food policy. Biotechnology in agriculture has only led to the “Superweed Effect” Moore writes about. Weeds have grown more resistant to pesticides, whereas crop yields have not increased and cheap prices even for GMO food will no longer be achievable.
I would argue along with Paul Roberts, author of the thought-provoking book “The End of Food” that food as a social, cultural and natural phenomenon, has now reached an end. I deeply believe that the whole system as we know it should be torn down if we want to be able to sustain ourselves on the long-term. We should get out of the capitalism as world-ecology system if we really want to save ourselves and the planet we live on. Capitalism is not sustainable, literally. I hope your research in Kenya will benefit from the insights of world-systems theory articulated by scholars such as Moore or Wallerstein. Probably, by stepping out of the capitalism as world-ecology perspective and by realizing that is just one more lens we wear, the apprentice archaeologist you are will be able to understand much more!