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

Author Replies # Posted on February 19, 2014 at 16:25

In response to Sabbath Sunday –

It was interesting to read your post – thanks for sharing. It appears that you are a fan of Immanuel Wallerstein – as am I. His call for intellectual change through world-systems analysis has been answered by Moore, but also, as Moore writes himself, by his mentor Giovanni Arrighi. Wallerstein also has a pretty great website where he posts bi-monthly commentaries, the latest one was about protests in the Ukraine (check it here →
You touch on a lot of good points made by Moore, though one thing that has caught my attention is how you have discussed the concept of “oikeios”. In my readings of Moore’s articles it seems to me that his construction of the term oikeios is based around “that messy bundle of relations that give rise to the nature-society dialectic” (2010: 392). From what I understand Moore doesn’t recognize the oikeios to be harmonic. I am of the opinion that oikeios (human in environment relations) are never entirely consistent, orderly, or congruent. The application of the term dialectic is so appropriate when conceptualizing the oikeios because of the fluidity, tension, and redefinition of human environment relations. I think the word oikeios is still imperfect for capturing human environment dialectical relations because it is a reinvention of a previous definition for a different but somewhat related concept (indicating relations between plant species and the environment). It is good that you brought attention to the difficulty of finding the appropriate language to communicate the oikeios, a concept which to understand requires a paradigm shift in mainstream perceptions of the world we inhabit. Having a background in archaeology, I think the idea of the anthropocene is a step in the right direction, but it still feels temporally and spatially bounded to “when humans begin to impact their environments”, which is a construction that moves us away from understanding what Moore calls the oikeios. I’ve yet to encounter the perfect word or phrase that is capable of relaying “the messy bundle”, but it’s important to find it and disseminate it if we hope to go beyond the human nature binary and closer to what is surely the truth.