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subsistence agricultural techniques. In the words of Parajuli (1998:187), 'the
language of economism is one-dimensional and does not adhere to the language of
nature. On the contrary, peasants who practise so-called traditional agriculture try
to approximate the multi-dimensionality of nature.' Cartesian dualities (to use a
convenient short-hand) are increasingly seen as instrumental in digging a
conceptual trench between the realms of rational humans and purely sensate
animals (Anderson 1995:277). New ideas of ecology have led to a readjustment in
conceptualisations of landscapes and animal habitats. While the deleterious impact
on local fauna of habitat fragmentation is recognised (Wolch et al. 1995:738), a
more sophisticated and nuanced reading of the relationship between animal habitats
and human moulding and re-moulding of landscapes has been forged. According to
this reading, for example, 'suburbs have become ecosystems of their own, though
humans are probably unaware of their part in attracting the wildlife with whom
they coexist' (Anderson 1995:275).
Of apparently natural environments, few have been so thoroughly engineered and
landscaped as rivers and their banks. Rivers have long been considered the most
natural of objects for engineering work. The resource that they represent, for so
many purposes so varied and yet essential, as well as the apparent threat posed when
they spill their banks, have legitimated a regime of technocratic management by
state bureaucracies and parastatal agencies based on scientific principles of calculated
containment and hazard aversion. Yet rivers are in a constant state of flux; the forces
which shape their flow—precipitation and sedimentation among them—are by
their nature unpredictable. For this very reason, rivers can be seen as a key testing
ground for new ideas of ecology (Adams 1997:286). As in Japan, in Germany,
Britain and elsewhere, a series of new ideas and techniques have been developed that
reject the old managerial, technocratic and engineering prescriptions and instead
reflect new thinking about ecosystems and about the best way to counteract damage
from flooding. A number of topics have been published incorporating this new
thinking and setting out new and more ecology-friendly techniques (e.g. Brookes
and Shields 1996; Harper and Ferguson 1995; Petts and Calow 1996). Among the
new techniques and practices advocated are re-meandering of water courses,
landscaping of sloping banks, planting shelves in beds, and the re-creation of flood
plains (Patrick 1998:24). The rehabilitation of ecosystems and natural features is a
primary aim of much of this work.
Critical comment on the new culture of ecological concern exists at various levels.
In its concentration on restoring specifically local fauna and flora, it is seen by some
as encouraging a sort of eco-nationalism. It has been argued, for example, that
Japanese ecologism has at times been distorted into an eco-nationalism with a new
quasi-official discourse of ecology glorifying a pure past age predating Western
influences (Morris-Suzuki 1991). Others see the spaces of ecological action as
belonging to a global discourse, no longer pertaining to the particular traditions of
local space (Pedersen 1995:265). A different range of potential contradictions exists
in the assumptions commonly made about the unity of thought and practice,
intention and action—the gap between ideology, institutional systems, social norms
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