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Interdependence Day 2007 - The Expert Views

Updated Friday 30th June 2006

Joe Smith introduces a series of expert views on the challenges facing out interdependent planet

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How should we respond to our knowledge of economic, cultural and ecological interconnections that span the globe and stretch into the future?

The discipline of geography is uniquely placed to help answer these questions: it has always worked across the borders of the natural and social sciences and humanities trying to make sense of the world. Its responsibilities are clear in its name – geo graphos - to ‘describe the earth’.

Researchers at the Open University’s Geography Department have been working to make sense of our responsibilities to people distant in space and time, and to the non-human natural world. Questions of response and responsibility in an interdependent world bring our diverse work together, and in these articles, originally produced for the Interdependency Day newspaper, we have gathered examples of research that directly respond to the driving themes of the Interdependence Day project, namely, the downsides of economic globalization and issues of climate change and biodiversity loss.

An editorial explains some of the thinking behind the Interdependence Day project: the Declaration of Interdependence.

Doreen Massey looks at the emerging politics of place via discussion of globally mobile health professionals in London Inside-out.

Kathryn Yusoff reveals connections between ice and carbon in the context of Antarctica, and in so doing points to new ways of approaching climate change.

Gillian Rose prompts us to look at newspaper photos more carefully, and think hard about the processes at work when images of victims and perpetrators of acts of violence circulate in society. How do we mourn our dead?

Clive Barnett pursues a different theme related to the question of what it is to be ‘public’. Based on his research into ethical consumerism he suggests that we should soften the boundary between citizenship and consumerism and recognise that important new political work is being done when people make one choice above another, creating a politics in an ethical register.

Matthew Kurtz dusts off the dictionary definitions of economy and ecology. By revisiting the history of the deployment of the two terms he shows that there is plenty of room (and plenty of cause) to test new ways of connecting them.

Parvati Raghuram asks that we consider a different kind of internationalism in the 'national' NHS.

Nigel Clark takes us into the underexplored but vital terrain where ethics, politics and environmental and earth sciences meet, defined perhaps by an abrupt climate change.

And Phil Sarre traces the financial circulations of interdependent international finance.

Following a different bundle of threads of interconnection John Allen thinks through the ethical and political dimensions of the global trade in cheap clothing. He considers where the power to make a difference lies within industries dependent on chains of connection between sweat shop labour and fast changing developed world tastes.

Together these writings give a sense of the contribution that a careful weaving together of theory and empirical research in human geography can make to some of the most pressing questions we face.

 

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