The modern hyper-separation of economy from ecology has severed many of the ties that people have with environments and species that sustain life. In this paper we argue that a first step towards strengthening resilience at a human scale involves appreciating the longstanding social and ecological relationships that have supported life over the millennia. Our capacity to appreciate these relationships has, however, been diminished by economic science which encloses ecological space within more and more delimited confines.
The three familiar categories of "economy," "society," and "environment"--staples in discourses of sustainable development--constitute a hegemonic formation that widely and problematically shapes the landscape of imagination and contestation, rendering particular, historically-produced relations seemingly inevitable and closing down possibilities for more generative and ethical modes of relationship. At the same time, however, economy, society, and environment are categories in crisis, and the world they aspire to organize and discipline is already escaping their clutches.
This book chapter challenges the conventional separations between "economy" and "ecology," proposing instead a perspective of "ecological livelihoods" in which sustenance is understood as an always-collective process of ethical negotiation involving humans and myriad living others. Drawing on and modifying Gibson-Graham's previous work on "ethical coordinates," we suggest some glimmers of what an ethical economics in an acknowledged more-than-human world might look like.
In this article we draw on community economies and ecological humanities scholarship to tackle perhaps the most pressing question of our time. How do we live together with human and non-human others?