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

Author Replies
gaoyongliang@yahoo.com # Posted on February 18, 2014 at 12:17

As a GEH (global environmental history) student, Moore’s articles are confusing to me in three senses.

First and foremost is the language. As had been discussed yesterday, Moore interchanges some concepts without defining them in specific contexts, which makes me uncertain and have to question the legitimacy of the usage. For example, nature (ecology), oikeios (antroposcene), historical method (imagination), etc. Take “nature/ ecology” as an instance, for what we had discussed, they are both broad and ambiguous concepts, although in some cases they can be interchanged. Still, if Moore could set a specific context for the concepts, it would be easier for readers to evaluate and comment on his work. Nevertheless, I appreciate Moore’s proposal of new language in order to avoid the misunderstanding of the mutually shared concepts.

Second, the trans-disciplinary issue. Moore’s articles at a first glimpse seem all center on ecology, food, or environment-oriented topics from a historical perspective. In my opinion, however, Moore’s work, in fact, is focused either on economical history or political history rather than GEH. As a consequence, this causes a problem for me, which is to recall my insufficient knowledge in economics and politics to explain environmental phenomena. This is exhausting and frankly speaking, the text is hardly understandable. Like what we fiercely discussed: some believe that the finical circuit is ruled by hegemonies and consequently the cheap food majorly flow to the hegemonies. Some worry that one day capitalism would lead to not only the end of cheap food but the end of food. Others refute that the world is based on the capitalist system. Not until another system would emerge and could replace capitalist, would the debate worth of discussing. Personally, the debate strikes me as it virtually reflects Moore’s diverse perceptions on GEH. If only Moore could explain how his multiple insights (like economics and politics) are corresponded to environmental studies, I should be able to better understand the articles.

Last but not least, Moore’s articles are more or less theoretical interpretations to me. Wherever I read between the lines, I seldom find proofs to support the arguments. The cheap food interpretation, for example. Should Moore exemplify how world food has become cheaper or does it merely occur in the hegemonies? Or compared to which historical period has the food become cheaper? If Moore can provide me with more facts and figures, the articles would become more clear.