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TitleLiving with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse
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Living With Nature

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forces simply mediated; responses to crises require overall policy changes. (Illustrations of two of these are given below.
See P. J. Taylor 1992 for the full analysis.)

I then characterized alternatives for each aspect, illustrating them using examples abbreviated from the literature on
African pastoralism. The contrasts were not meant to be read as indicating technical limitations of Picardi's models per
se. Instead, I asked what it would have meant practically to pursue the alternatives, given the many social worlds
intersecting in Picardi's making of system dynamics models? By exploring the implications of pursuing these
counterfactuals, I aimed to expose the ways Picardi's work was facilitated by his staying with the conventional aspects of
system dynamics. That is, my goal was to expose the resources with which he made his science. Let me illustrate this
counterfactual method by teasing out two of the contrasts.

Rules and System Structure: Fixed Vs. Changing
Picardi designed his models as an effort to understand ‘the ecological and social dynamics of the pastoral system’
(abstract, p. i).8 For Picardi, as for other system dynamicists, it was unquestioned that the world—at whatever level of
resolution examined—is composed of systems. In system dynamics a system connotes more than the orderly
collection of interacting components subject to scientific management. A system in system dynamics is a bounded
integrated entity, the behaviour of which is primarily determined by internal interactions or rules (Picardi 1974: 4, 7,
19ff.; Forrester 1969: 17ff.). External factors are simply mediated, like energy into an ecosystem or people migrating
out of a pastoralist society (Picardi 1974: 7, 15).

In contrast to analysing complex interactions as self-determining and enduring, one might analyse the changes in the
structure of those interactions and rules governing them. Let me give an example:

During the mid-19th century, Fulbe peoples codified conventions for land use and access in the floodplain of the
inland Niger delta of what is now Mali. This code or Dina divided the floodplain into clan lands. A jooro or tax
collector/pasture manager for each clan controlled access for livestock from other clans, in particular the timing of
access. Under the colonial and post-colonial governments the jooro have less power to enforce their control over
land use and access. Rice cultivators, for example, have encroached on lands traditionally grazed by the pastoralists'
livestock. At the same time more jooro have begun to extract monetarized taxes for their personal benefit, further
reducing their authority to regulate land use. (Turner 1993) 9


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In principle, it is possible for modellers to incorporate changing rules in their models. To do so they need to anticipate
the restructuring that may result from crises, such as loss of livestock during the 1968–74 drought, or from external
interventions, such as the administrative actions that are progressively undermining the Dina. The modeller then
incorporates the range of system structures into the model from the outset and specifies transitions or switches among
those structures. In practice, however, such prior specification is difficult. It is no trivial issue for pastoralists
themselves to anticipate the new arrangements they will make when, say, they rebuild their herds after a drought or
they react to encroachment. An outsider wanting to anticipate structural change might get drawn into detailed
comparative study to see how other pastoralists had responded to similar situations. Or, the outsider might live with
pastoralists long enough to observe how they respond to change. Given the short study time dictated by USAID,
Picardi did not follow either of these courses. He considered only a small number of switches within the model system,
corresponding predominantly to policy changes such as initiation of taxation to enforce destocking (323ff.). Moreover,
these changes were to be imposed from the outside, not generated by the pastoralists.

Although USAID's short study time constrained Picardi's modelling, this also facilitated his work. The time limit
relieved him of any expectation of undertaking more detailed study or developing a sustained engagement with
pastoralists. Furthermore, USAID had requested an evaluation of long-term strategies for the region, intending to use
the results to advise the US Congress and the United Nations in assisting the region. Specific strategies for
international intervention were called for. Picardi was well aware of the need to communicate his results to clients (4, 6,
19, 216–17). Moreover, if Picardi's evaluation of nomadic pastoralism had been replete with pathways branching
according to possible restructuring of arrangements, then significant translation would have been expected of Picardi
by the project's sponsors, USAID (or of USAID by their sponsors)—especially if the possible restructuring depended
on future initiatives of the pastoralists themselves, and not the external interventions.

Of course, Picardi's actions were not determined by this one relationship with USAID. Other elements of the
intersecting social worlds were implicated in his emphasizing system-ness and de-emphasizing restructuring. Each
element reinforced each other, rendering them harder to modify in practice. This cross-reinforcement will be evident if
I consider another of the contrasts and examine the practical consequences.


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Taylor, B. P. 188
Taylor, B. R. 75
Taylor, C. 49, 55
Taylor, D. 156, 174–5
Taylor, P. J. xi, 43, 91, 225; on complex socio-natural

relationships 5, 9, 15–16, 121–34, 142, 227–9
technology see science and technology
Thompson, M. xi, 230, 231; on security and solidarity 16–17,
135–50, 229–31
threat, South as 30, 34
Timm, R. E. 69
TNCs (Trans-National Corporations) 110, 113, 209, 211, 221,
Tobias, M. 76
Todorov, Z. 46–7, 52
Torgerson, D. xi, 2; on green politics and images of place
18–19, 186–203, 231
tourism/recreation 90, 98, 108, 114–15, 168, 231
training, see eco-managerialists
Trans-National Corporations, see TNCs
transpersonal ecology 73–4
transport 55–6, 85, 90, 192
Trepl, L. 94
Trice, H. M. 72
Truman, H. 25, 26
trusteeship concept 67
Tryzna, T. C. 119
Turner, M. 127
Uchitelle, L. 154
UNCED, see Earth Summit
‘underdeveloped areas’ 25, 224 see also South
United Nations 2, 201; and Africa 126, 128; Conference on

Environment and Development, see Earth Summit;
Decade on Women 206; Environmental Programme
(UNEP) 3, 33, 167, 206; Stockholm Conference (1972)

28, 206 see also Brundtland
United States 9, 25, 33, 209; conservation 218–20; and far

north 53, 55; spiritual traditions 70–1, 72; USAID 126,
128, 130 see also justice; North America
unity/unification 42–3, 67 see also co-operation; globalization;
spiritual traditions
universities, see eco-managerialists
Ural Mountains 53, 56, 225
USAID 126, 128, 130
utilitarianism 180, 181, 210
Utopianism 53
Vaughan, R. 45, 51
Vera, F. 96, 97, 99
Vernant, J. -P. 56, 226
villages 39; mountain 135–6, 140–1, 143–6, 148–9, 230 see also
Violette, F. E. la 200

Vivin, J. 178
Wackernagel, M. 39
Waldrop, M. 216
Walker, B. G. 60
Wall, D. 58, 60, 67
war 24 see also security
Waring, M. 207
Warren, K. 74, 79
waste disposal 26, 32, 166; toxic 153–9, 160, 164, 174, 176,
182, 183, 231
Watts, M. 122, 124
WCED, see Brundtland
‘web of life’ 58
Weevers, T. 85, 86
Wenz, P. 180, 181, 182
Westfall, M. 59
Westhoff, V. 86
Westmen, W. E. 110
White, L. Jr 60, 66, 67
Whitehead, A. N. 93
Wicca 63, 69
Wildavsky, A. 7, 231
wildlife 53, 112; animal rights 160, 180; beetles in leaf litter
131–2; conservation 218–20; language 188; tuna and

dolphins 209 see also extinct species
Wilhelm, R. 64, 65

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Williams, R. 6, 9, 121, 179, 182–3
Wilson, E. O. 68, 92
Windt, H. van der 86
wise use movement 171–4, 180
Witoszek, N. 50
women 158, 206, 222; and Earth Summit 19, 204–23, 231–2;

forms of environmental ethics 208–14; see also partnership
ethic see also ecofeminism
working class, see poverty
World Bank 3, 33, 140, 167, 169–70, 171, 183, 221, 232 see also
internal memorandum
World Commission for Environment and Development, see
World Council of Churches 71–2
world unification see globalization
World Wide Fund for Nature, see WWF
Worldwatch 115
Worster, D. 6, 58, 196, 232
WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) 4, 33, 83, 86, 90, 97, 101,
Wynne, B. 5, 225
Yakuts and Yakutsk 45, 55, 225, 226–7
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies 104–5,
110, 112, 113, 115, 118
Yearley, S. 9
yin and yang 64–5
Young, A. 172
Young, C. 196, 197
Young, I. M. 202
zero-sum game 43, 162, 173

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