Robert MacFarlane in New Statesman on Nature Writing

The Hen Harrier, facing extinction

Robert MacFarlane has written for the New Statesman on ‘nature writing’ in the UK and its cultural and political importance – click here to read –  – responding to Mark Cocker’s critique of ‘new nature writing’ for the same publication. MacFarlane identifies a number of projects motivated both aesthetically, socially and politically, writing that:

An ecology of mind has emerged that is extraordinary in its energies and its diversity. In nurseries and universities, apiaries and allotments, transition towns and theatres, woodlands and festivals, charities and campaigns – and in photography, film, music, the visual and plastic arts and throughout literature… A 21st-century culture of nature has sprung up, born of anxiety and anger but passionate and progressive in its temperament, involving millions of people and spilling across forms, media and behaviours…

The outcomes of this culture have ranged from the uncountable enrichments of individual lives to clear examples of political and social change with regard to conservation and our relationships with “landscape”, in the fullest sense of the word…

The best of the recent writing is ethically alert, theoretically literate and wary of the seductions and corruptions of the pastoral. It is sensitive to the dark histories of landscapes and to the structures of ownership and capital that organise – though do not wholly produce – our relations with the natural world.

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