The question of whether nature and culture can ever be divided is supposedly central to the connection to revolutions. First, why are we trying to separate nature and culture? Second, revolutions can come in many forms on many scales.
I recently finished my semester-long research assignment on Madagascar, a place where the lives of humans are greatly impacting the forests for the worse and increasing the already devastating deforestation rates. In this case, on the surface, it looks like as though culture and nature should be divided in order to prevent the extinction of one of the world’s greatest megabiodiversities. Since the 19th century, the government and outside forces have been attempting to solve deforestation in Madagascar. First it began with enforcing regulations on forestry, then it evolved into the establishment of national parks that relocated villages and banned local people from stepping foot in the park. This took away local people’s resources that they depended on for their livelihoods without attempting to help them adjust. This creates a ‘people vs park’ model which is seen all over the world in conservation projects, which also particularly marginalizes indigenous peoples or minority groups. But this is not a sustainable method for conservation, as Madagascar has seen over and over again. The people live on that island and therefore need the resources it offers, given that the majority of the population are too poor to survive otherwise. Many conservationists favor and prioritize the survival of nature over the survival of the people. How can anyone judge what is more important? We cannot. We need to instead stop thinking that it can only be one or the other – culture or nature – and recognize that the survival of both means we need to build a relationship between culture and nature. Anyway, are humans not part of the ecosystem also?
Therefore, perhaps a revolutionary moment is when a mutually beneficial relationship between culture and nature is formed, not divided. But this would not be the only revolutionary moment. Before we get there, I am sure we will experience many more. Not necessarily huge events such as the French Revolution, but one’s that are slight that we forget to consider them as revolutions, but without them, nothing would be the same as it is. We are revolutionary because we continue to push towards the future and attempt to discover new ways in which societies and human individuals can operate in order to better the lives of many. Revolutions also do not only mean the betterment of societies, but also the worsening of them. I would argue the presidential election this year is revolutionary, but not for the better, but it is a drastic and impactful change for everyone in this country. Revolutions are happening all the time.