New Member Publications
We are very excited to be able to share two new books from ISSRNC members Georgina Drew and James Miller, both of whom will be taking part in the 2017 Mountains and Sacred Landscapes conference book launch on Saturday April 22nd at The New School. Miller’s new book is China’s Green Religion: Daoism and the Quest for a Sustainable Future (Columbia University Press, 2017). Drew’s new book is River Dialogues: Hindu Faith and the Political Ecology of Dams on the Sacred Ganga (University of Arizona Press, 2017).
How can Daoism, China’s indigenous religion, give us the aesthetic, ethical, political, and spiritual tools to address the root causes of our ecological crisis and construct a sustainable future? In China’s Green Religion, James Miller shows how Daoism orients individuals toward a holistic understanding of religion and nature. Explicitly connecting human flourishing to the thriving of nature, Daoism fosters a “green” subjectivity and agency that transforms what it means to live a flourishing life on earth.
Through a groundbreaking reconstruction of Daoist philosophy and religion, Miller argues for four key, green insights: a vision of nature as a subjective power that informs human life; an anthropological idea of the porous body based on a sense of qi flowing through landscapes and human beings; a tradition of knowing founded on the experience of transformative power in specific landscapes and topographies; and an aesthetic and moral sensibility based on an affective sensitivity to how the world pervades the body and the body pervades the world. Environmentalists struggle to raise consciousness for their cause, Miller argues, because their activism relies on a quasi-Christian concept of “saving the earth.” Instead, environmentalists should integrate nature and culture more seamlessly, cultivating through a contemporary intellectual vocabulary a compelling vision of how the earth materially and spiritually supports human flourishing.
In River Dialogues, Georgina Drew offers a detailed ethnographic engagement with the social movements contesting hydroelectric development on the Ganga. The book examines the complexity of the cultural politics that, on the one hand, succeeded in influencing an unprecedented reversal of government plans for three contested hydroelectric projects, and how, on the other hand, this decision sparked ripples of discontent after being paired with the declaration of a conservation zone where the projects were situated.
The book follows the work of women who were initially involved in efforts to stop the disputed projects. After looking to their discourses and actions, Drew argues for the use of a political ecology analysis that incorporates the everyday practice and everyday religious connections that animated the cultural politics of development. Drew offers a nuanced understanding of the struggles that communities enact to assert their ways of knowing and caring for resources that serves as an example for others critically engaging with the growing global advocacy of the “green economy” model for environmental stewardship.