The Problematic Definition of Nature

It was a gloomy, drizzling day. Started off 9 am with some logistics that made me even more excited about planning and the trip.

The two assigned articles (White “The Problem With Purity,” and Thomas “History and Biology in the Anthropocene”) really opened up some worthy discussions about crucial topics that affect all of the academic world and human perception. As a humanities-oriented person who feels too anthropocentric, I enjoyed revisiting familiar structures through an environmental history lens. Because of my classes this semester, I am used to analyzing situations where groups of people are categorized as the “Other” by more “powerful” groups, resulting in monolithic stereotypes and generalizations. We assume the normative status quo: things are the way they are just because. However, the problem with attempting to define something according to this “nature” is that everything changes with temporal and geopolitical contexts and can never be extracted from these parameters to draw huge conclusions. Furthermore, by asserting something exists as it does “naturally,” we are able to avoid responsibility and extract ourselves from this intertwined universe. While thinking about the world, we should consciously ask ourselves: what has been decided and who had the power to decided so.

The best part of today was being able to see disciplines intersect and know that nothing exists in isolation. When science and humanities can be complemented, we can reach a fuller understanding. I ended the day with a lot more questions than I had at the start of today, but hopefully, in the upcoming weeks, I will gain more tools to help me understand these issues and eventually take action.


Author: Gerlin Leu '19

Hello readers! I am Gerlin, an Asian Studies major focusing on religion in South (and Southeast) Asia (although thinking about pursuing academic studies about food culture and power.) I have been studying Japanese for two years now. My original plan was to look at religious NPO's collaborative efforts after 3/11 and how that has redefined the role of religion in society. I am currently also very obsessed with the theories of subaltern and postcolonialism, so these themes will echo through my posts. I enjoy taking photos and talking in person (more than blogging). じゃ、よろしくお願いします。