A common OIKOS

Strictly speaking, Ecology is a LOGOS of the OIKOS. That means, the way we inhabit the OIKOS (house, household). It is important to differentiate, nonetheless, the ontological statuses of Ecology and Nature, as Ecology is not a thing but a self-conscious theory of a thing. Thus, we could think of the OIKOS, when related to Ecology, not as the house but as the HOME, adopting Marina Vischmidt’s definition of Home as “the site where politics is born and buried” (Vischmidt 2014, p.10). Within this association, Ecology can be conceptualised as the way we inhabit the site where politics are born. The contribution of Feminisms has been especially important to consider the home as a site for activism, understanding its range not to a private and individualized space but rather extended to the whole society, opening the debate, for example, on the systemic invisibility of domestic economies that allow life to be more sustainable. Given hence the theoretical contribution of gender studies to the field of political economy, and given that ecology is the way we inhabit the home in which economy administrates, a feminist political ecology could be of a great help in shaping alternative processes of ecological change and practices of conservation, and be used as one of the platforms to ask how humanity should respond to issues of sustainability and environmental crisis.

Nonetheless, two questions need to be raised from the very beginning. The first is ontological: what is a feminist ecology? And the second axiological: What feminist ecology contributes to the world? Here, however, I will propose, inspired by Roberto Azzarelo or Arturo Escobar, to use not the term Ecology but rather `Environmentality´, highlighting the relation between environment and mentality, or habit of thought, as it allows us to create a direct relation to Foucauldian theories of power and subjectivity. Can, then, a feminist `Environmentality´ contribute to the struggles of both men and women to sustain ecologically viable livelihoods? What feminist `environmentality´ could support the expectations of any community that aim for sustainable development?

Meanwhile, Economy combines OIKOS with the Greek word NOMOS: to distribute, manage or administrate. As the `household manager´, Economy uses a set of laws, norms and habits that should maintain a fair administration of the `common home´. If Ecology, or `Environmentality´, refers to the way we relate to the OIKOS, the eco-logic is the one directly informing the actions of the `Economos´. In a fateful sense, Economy is a direct aspect of Ecology. And yet, as Silvia Federici declares, “the neoliberal attempt to subordinate every form of life and knowledge to the logic of the market has heightened our awareness of living in a world in which we no longer have access to seas, trees, animals, and our fellow human beings except through the cash-nexus” (Federicci 2012, p.138).

Indeed, modern economy is not a `common home enterprise´ as described above but a self referenced commercial dream. The `household managers´ have abandoned their roles as stewards of the common, and market speculation, which does not require a real locale, has prevailed. Economy has become a self-referential process travelling homeless and arguing that environmental regulations are limiting business growth. The process has thus been shifted. But how long can the OIKOS survive without a sustainable and fair administration?

Foucault declares in The History of Sexuality that,Western man was gradually learning what it meant to be a living species in a living world, to have a body, conditions of existence, probabilities of life, an individual and collective welfare, forces that could be modified, and a space in which they could be distributed in an optimal manner” (Foucault 1980, p.142). What Foucault is highlighting here is the duality within, from one side, the dependency on certain existential conditions for the modern individual to learn, and, from the other side, the parallel development of a productive relation with our own selves constituted on the believe of the property of the self. Isabell Lorey states when introducing Foucault that, “the power of the State no longer depended solely on the size of a territory or the mercantile, authoritative regulation of subordinates, but instead, on the `happiness´ of the population, on their life and a steady improvement of that life” (Lorey 2006, p.60). The government of a State is hence visualized as a structural entanglement that includes both the limitations from government for the benefit of a free market and the growth of a population of subjects that carry the economic paradigms in their behavior. A liberal `Art of government´ rooted on the `Biopolitical´ as “an indispensable element in the development of capitalism”, drawing hence the conditions of normalizing societies.

However, the fact that rural habitants, generally farmers and primary producers, are still direct managers of natural resources “suggests the possibility for alternative forms of `biopower´ based on the direct relation with the territory.” (Garcia-Dory 2011, p. 7) Indeed, making visible and promoting as cultural tactics of transformation other forms of Economy based on contextual Eco-logics can lead us to the creation of unexpected and antagonistic political terrains that are worth exploring. The promotion of alternative Economics that might enable “a saner, more equitable, gender-balanced, ecologically-conscious future”[8] inspired by a direct relation between environment and habit of thought should be hence our main focus of attention.

Thereafter, and with an interest on creating links between emergent artistic practices on the utility of art and the importance to pay attention to the Rural from a contemporary perspective, A common OIKOS is a militant research that conceives that it is possible to develop an antagonistic `biopolitical´ force from a cultural strategy that simultaneously takes from different forms of knowledge, representations of art and peasant cultures.

[8] Hazel Henderson, “The Breaking Point”, The Australian Financial Review, 4 December 1998, p.9.