Living with the earth : mastery to mutuality

Document Type


Publication Date




Place of Publication

Cambridge, England

Publication Details

Giblett, R. J. (2004). Living with the Earth: Mastery to mutuality. Cambridge, England, Salt Publishing.


This book is about the relationship between humans and the earth, people and place, culture and nature. It argues that the concepts and categories of natural history, scientific ecology, landscape aesthetics and their associated practices in conservation landscapes and industrial land use work-over (if not overwork) nature (land, living beings, air and water). By contrast, conservation counter-aesthetics, Australian Aboriginal Country and symbiotic livelihood in a bioregion work (with) the earth as living being. Beginning with a historical account of the cultural construction of nature, it ends with a contemporary discussion of land symbiotic. It moves from the discourse of nature as dead machine to the practices of living with the earth as living being. On the way it critiques nature conservationism in national parks and wilderness for its will to mastery over nature. It goes on to undertake an ecological psychoanalysis of the oral and anal sadism of industrial land use in mining and pastoralism. The drive here is to promote eco-mental health. Arguing for an extension of an ethics and practice of landcare beyond the conservation of special places, the book maintains that earthcare should embrace the whole earth, indeed the entire ecosphere. It traces and calls for a paradigm shift from the sanctuarism of national parks and wilderness to the sacrality of Aboriginal Country and the living earth. Ecological sustainability rather than ecologically sustainable development is the crucial touchstone. To this end a postmodern, political ecology is developed, applied to and illustrated by reference to a wide range of British, American and Australian examples.