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Changing Culture, Changing World: A Gramscian Approach to Ontologies in Radical Environmental Movements

Anton Vandevoorde
Combining Antonio Gramsci’s cultural and counter-hegemonic theory with the ontological turn in anthropology, this thesis explores how the ontologies at radical environmental protest camps challenge the hegemonic ontology based on the division of nature and culture. The Mi’kmaq ontology at a blockade against an underground gas storage in Nova Scotia is juxtaposed with the ontology at a non-Indigenous protest camp against fracking in the United Kingdom. Although both counter-hegemonies challenge the dominant structure and superstructure through their practices, arguments and ideas, they retain distinctions. Both emphasise the entanglement of humans, other critters and commons like water, but seeing water as a self or the world as alive is less established in the English context. Yet the love for spirit water in the Mi’kmaq context is also based on a deep caring for future generations and the own world. Because of the important role stories play in the making of ontologies, both camps are introduced with a story from the site.