Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Knowing Homes and Writing Worlds? Ethics of the 'Eco-', ethics of the 'Geo-' and how to light a planet

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Shaw



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This paper is an attempt to explore the relationship between the 'eco-' prefix of the term 'ecosophy' and the 'geo-' prefix of the term geography. While their linguistic distinctions are well established, this paper will delve into the conceptualization of ‘earth’ that the use of each prefix prioritizes. My aim is to show how the geo- prefix has pushed geographers towards conceiving of the earth as a surface across which differences are spread, whereas the eco- prefix pushes us towards a conceptualization of the earth as ‘home’, potentially a more holistic imagination. In order to explore the differences that these conceptualizations produce, I focus on the ethics that they push us towards, particularly in consideration of how humans relate to the earth. I trace a history from Hartshorne’s description of the discipline of geography through to a series of examples of ‘geo’ oriented ethical writings, before turning towards the ecosophies written about (separately) by Arne Naess and Felix Guattari. In so doing I also explore the shift that Guattari makes to an ecosophy from the 'geophilosophies' that he wrote in his earlier work with Deleuze. In order to illustrate the application of these ideas to geography, I explore them in relation to various contemporary debates about artificial lighting in the context of climate change, light pollution, mobilities and use of energy. The argument overall here is that while the geo and the eco share multiple values, the addition and consideration of the earth as ‘eco’ might push geography towards a greater reflection as to how we relate to the earth and to others who might call it home.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shaw R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography

Year: 2017

Volume: 99

Issue: 2

Pages: 128-142

Online publication date: 11/04/2017

Acceptance date: 13/02/2017

Date deposited: 24/03/2017

ISSN (print): 0435-3684

ISSN (electronic): 1468-0467

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/04353684.2017.1311469


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric