Always Becoming Bioregional / Tom Lynch, in symposium international “Regional Becomings in North America“ organisé, sous la responsabilité scientifique de Wendy Harding (Cultures Anglo-Saxonnes (CAS), Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France) et de Nancy Cook (University of Montana, USA), Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, 7-8 avril 2016.
Session 1: Bioregional Becomings I.
Using the American West as the primary example, Tom Lynch offers bioregionalism as an alternative to traditional regional formations. By foregrounding the characteristics of the natural world as part of personal and place-based identity, bioregionalism necessarily links identity with environmental concerns helping to generate an ecologically aware consciousness.
Bioregionalism also helps us to avoid many of the unproductive dichotomies that bedevil place-oriented thinking. It links city and country, wilderness and heavily utilized landscapes, within the context of an encompassing bioregion or watershed. It mitigates us-them polarities of insider-outsider, since humans are primarily understood not as various cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, races, migrants, etc., some of which do and some of which do not belong in a particular place. Instead, it understands humans primarily as one among many animal species seeking to inhabit a territory and is suspicious of political borders. Bioregional borders are necessarily contingent, permeable, and shifting. Bioregions are understood as nested and interconnected, subsuming local vs. global or “roots” vs. “routes” binaries.
The paper concludes by arguing that bioregionalism is a process-oriented sense of place, acknowledging systems and connections both within and beyond the local. Bioregional identity is a practice: it is something one does, not something one is. One is always becoming a bioregional inhabitant.