Toward an evolutionary political ecology of neurophysiologic political disposition

Dr John Carr1

1University Of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

 

Building upon a growing literature that seeks to locate political identity partially within human neurological physiology, this paper illustrates the possibility that longstanding spatio-political tensions between “left” and “right” have served both evolutionary and ecological functions that are currently subverted by advanced capitalism. New work in psychology suggests that “left/right” politics tend to physiologically correspond to more deeply seeded, often unconscious affective reactions to novelty, difference, threat, and the unexpected. I use this literature to re-read pre-European contact Hawaiian history and political ecology to evaluate the roles physiologically based political disposition might have played in safeguarding the survival of a society that shared many characteristics with our evolutionary forbearers. This review suggests co-development of Hawaiian spatio-political ecologies and approaches to intra-group conflict potentially correspond to a theory of political disposition that holds that “left” approaches help adapt populations to times of plenty while “right” approaches assist survival during scarcity.


Biography:

John Carr is an urban and legal geographer whose work focuses on the intersections of urban geography, law, planning, and human and non-human environments.    Much of his research engages community based and participatory methodologies. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Environment and Society at the University of New South Wales. In addition to his PhD in Geography from the University of Washington he also holds a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. He can be reached at: john.carr@unsw.edu.au

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