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Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 484237
Doerthe Rosenow is Senior Lecturer in International Relations. She received her PhD and MA from the Department of War Studies/King's College London, and her first degree (Mag.Art.) from the University of Muenster/Germany. Before joining Brookes she taught at Royal Holloway University of London and King's College London. Her research is interdisciplinary, crossing over the boundaries of International Relations, human geography, anthropology and continental philosophy. She is particularly interested in the theorisation and analysis of political struggle in relation to understandings of nature, particularly from perspectives that engage notions of materiality and decolonialit. At the moment she is finishing her monograph on the radical potential of anti-genetically modified organisms activism, which will be published in the Routledge Series 'Research in Place, Space, and Politics' in 2017. Together with her colleague Lara Montesinos Coleman from the University of Sussex she is also working on a broader critique of poststructuralist International Relations, with a particular focus on how discipline-specific boundaries continue to constrain radical thinking and action.
In my research I am interested in the theorisation and analysis of political struggle in relation to understandings of nature, particularly from perspectives that engage notions of materiality and decoloniality. I do not understand political struggle aIn my research I am interested in the theorisation and analysis of political struggle in relation to understandings of nature, particularly from perspectives that engage notions of materiality and decoloniality. I do not understand political struggle as the mere contestation of existing structures of political rule, but also as researching new avenues of thought and ways of being that point us to a different way of understanding ourselves and the life around us. At the moment I am working with Deleuze’s notions of the ‘dogmatic image of thought’ and the ‘encounter’, with Latour’s contestation of the separation between ‘nature’ and ‘society’, and with decolonial thought on the co-constitution of modernity and decoloniality for that purpose. I am currently completing a monograph to be published in the Routledge geography series ‘Research in Space, Place and Politics’, in which I attempt to make (new) sense of the radical potential of anti-genetically modified organisms (GMO) activism through this particular lens. My research is interdisciplinary, crossing over the boundaries of International Relations, human geography, anthropology and continental philosophy. Together with my colleague Lara Coleman from the University of Sussex I am also working on a broader critique of the constraining impact of disciplinary boundaries and paradigms on radical thought and action – particularly in relation to poststructuralist IR – and on the development of a new approach that attempts to develop general categories for making sense of power and domination through the lens of actually-existing political struggle, which we understand as ‘experiment‘.
I now aim to take my critique a step further with a new project that focuses, through the lens of political struggle, on indigenous cosmologies of nature in relation to demands for addressing past colonial wrongdoings. Indigenous communities are habitually demarcated as being particularly vulnerable to processes of environmental degradation. But when assessing their vulnerability from a policy or scientific perspective, an entrenched Eurocentric worldview privileges notions of environmental harm as being external, objective and unrelated to our colonial past. The project aims to overcome the limitations of dominant narratives and their political implications by developing strategies for tackling the destruction of nature that start from indigenous thought and practice. Many indigenous communities draw on cosmologies of an interrelated more-than-human world that are inextricably linked to political demands for addressing historical harm. The project will analyse the (shifting) practices, ontologies and demands that emerge from specific struggles against the background of regional colonial history, and in dialogue with wider philosophical reflections on nature, vulnerability and modernity. On that basis the project will develop different understandings of harm that think together natural and historical (colonial) destruction; resulting in political strategies that need to address both at the same time
The point of departure for this article is the question of how to pursue and encourage political contestation from a position that acknowledges the significance of binary conceptualisations, but that is at the same time uncomfortable with a mode of politics that is exclusively geared towards them. The limitations of this traditionally modern conceptualisation of politics – and life more generally – calls for an ontological move away from the prioritisation of bounded entities and clear-cut (oppositional) identities in order to explore other dimensions of political action. While there has been a turn to such new ontologies – in critical geography and beyond – in the last decades, there has been less exploration of what this could mean concretely for a political activism that aims to go beyond mere ‘micropolitical’ transformation. To address this lack, this article examines the tensions between binarity and complexity through an engagement with political resistance against genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This brings to light that the ontology of complexity pursued by some anti-GMO activists is ultimately grounded in a binarisation of both politics (one is either ‘for’ or ‘against’ GMOs’) and life (which is either ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’). Whilst problematic in its limitation and specification of what kind of politics and life is considered ‘right’ and ‘natural’, this binarisation also informs the success of anti-GMO activism. An engagement with the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, especially through the notion of the ‘encounter’, brings out this paradox and serves to radicalise the ontology of complexity argued for by anti-GMO activists in order to open up different avenues for thinking about and ‘doing’ political resistance.
A variety of scholars in critical security studies have recently argued that new modes of neoliberal world order are influenced by the emergence of complexity theory in the sciences, which manifests itself, for example, in the discourse of resilience. By contrast, this article aims to point at the number of governmental discourses and practices in which ‘old’ understandings of order are persistent. What will be argued is that such a set of practices can be found in the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in which the dominant approaches and strategies still rely on an understanding of life that is bound to a more traditional episteme that expresses the desire for predictable management with clearly controllable effects. The article then moves on to discourses of resilience to show how they are equally characterized by this episteme. In unravelling the struggle that exists between ‘old’ and ‘new’ epistemes, the article aims to elaborate on the potential of complexity discourses for challenging particular governmental rationales, manifested in both the resilience context and the GMO controversy.