Our current environmental challenges are deeply impacted by a common view of natural resources as unlimited, prioritized for human use, and thoroughly instrumentalized. In a failure of human hubris, many industrialized societies have come to regard the land and the waters as “theirs for the taking.” The effects of such short-sightedness can be articulated according to four overarching problems: (i) rendering natural resource supplies unsustainable at great detriment to the habitats and ecologies of which they are a part; (ii) furthering a neocolonial project to the detriment of indigenous communities and local cultures; (iii) creating unsustainable economies and associated social challenges; and (iv) limiting or foreclosing potential imaginaries (ethics, relations, registers) according to which these “resources” might be perceived. Clearly, these four effects are strongly interconnected; all speak to the problem of the nature/culture divide, and to the need for an integrated approach to environmental, social, cultural and economic questions.
The salient concern of “Deep Time, Deep Earth, Deep Waters” is a critical examination of the use of “natural resources” and habitats, in both local and global contexts. We examine practices surrounding lands and waters, the psychosocial spaces upon which these practices are based, and the potential legacies these practices will leave. Given that these resources have been established over literally eons of geological time, we are also explicitly interested in how deep time is distributed through anthropogenic or human time.