My aim is to fight for a world with more love, more solidarity and more equality. There is currently a widespread perception that the world’s most pressing problems, from the ecological crisis, to nativism, to inequality, ultimately stem from an upsurge in irrationality. On the contrary, my work is devoted to explaining how, against what we might like to think as “enlightened”, “modern”, “rational” citizens, myths, rituals, magic and traditions shape our political attitudes and behaviours whether we like it or not. Rather than seeking to quash other’s myths with our facts then, we should be trying to harness myths for the common good. Unsatisfied with discursive methods alone, I experiment with artists and activists. In the process, I am learning how to value artistic thought at least equally to scientific knowledge and am exploring how art can transform behaviour. I recently got involved in Community Supported Agriculture projects, where I am exploring both firsthand and through research how direct contact with the soil and plants can transform how we relate to the world and other people.
The world is increasingly consumed by politicians and people who so strongly desire to consolidate their own privilege that they are willing to deny reality altogether: from the new diversity, to mass migration, to climate change.
It was once thought that asking people to put their own self-interests aside in order to rationally acknowledge the truth would suffice to bring the global populace on board with the changes required to deal with the new reality. This is patently no longer the case. Instead, a gap has emerged between what is rationally required at a global level and how people feel about the changes happening around them and that are required of them.
“Enough is enough”, people seem to be saying, as they retrench in traditional understandings of religion, nation, community, family and place while refusing to set limits on either their consumption or their environmental impact.
It is crucial that we find new ways to bridge the gap between the new reality confronting us and people’s willingness to act. In search of ways of doing just this, I have spent my research career exploring non-rational methods of motivating people to act. In the past, I have focused on the myths, rituals and emotions that inspire people on the front line confronting the new reality. More recently, informed by the new materialism and pragmatism, I have turned to explore the way material objects and practices can shift people’s imaginaries and encourage them to change their lives.
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