Agroecology, Psychogeography and Discipline Mashups

Remember psychogeography, the discipline I’m apparently now a practitioner of? Well now we have agroecology:

…the integrative study of the ecology of the entire food system, encompassing ecological, economic and social dimensions. This definition will lead to a practical approach that encourages researcher, educator, and student to embrace the wholeness and connectivity of systems, and will stimulate a focus on uniqueness of each place, and solutions appropriate to its resources and constraints. The definition expands our thinking beyond production practices and immediate environmental impacts at the field and farm level.

Fictional Business Card with title 'hanging around, doing interesting shit'I find it fascinating that the reaction to the intellectual confinement of existing disciplines — “ecology” and “agriculture” or “psychology” and “geography” — is to create new disciplines rather than going all the way and abandoning the walls of disciplines altogether.

I suppose I’m advocating for a “just hang out and do shit” approach that might work extremely well only for obsessive generalists like me; perhaps this new middle ground is required for those uncomfortable with simply knowing a very thin slice about everything, but with a desire to build bridges between existing intellectual towers.

But I also wonder if the desire to name and formalize these new mashups is fed by a need to coddle funders, facilitate business cards and to provide an answer to the “so, what do you do” question. “I’m an Integrative Contemporary Agroecologist” sounds a lot more credible as an answer than “well, I hang around and do interesting shit.”


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on March 12, 2008 - 14:53 Permalink

Does this mean we’re “colleagues” when we have lunch together?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on March 12, 2008 - 15:46 Permalink

You thought that was lunch? That was a cross-discipline colloquium.

oliver's picture
oliver on March 12, 2008 - 22:10 Permalink

I think it’s coddling of your own ego, your standing among your colleages and the luster of your profession to outsiders—including funders. Traditional names connote what we know already and sound stale. It takes some selflessness to call a spade a spade, as opposed to a human-powered cultivational leveraging device. At least, if you’re a spade maker I imagine it does.