The (d)evolution of a technological species: A history and critique of ecopsychology’s constructions of science and technology

AHP readers will be interested in a new article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Part of a forthcoming special issue, the piece is now available online: “The (d)evolution of a technological species: A history and critique of ecopsychology’s constructions of science and technology,” by Tal Davidson. Abstract:

In this paper, I aim to convey the history of ecopsychology’s changing conceptualizations of science and technology and their role in facilitating engagement with the ecology movement. To do so, I compare ecopsychology’s treatment of science and technology in two important publications: Gatherings, a non-peer-reviewed digital journal of the early 2000s that portrayed ecopsychology in humanistic, socially critical, and artistic terms; and Ecopsychology, a scholarly journal founded in 2009 that regarded ecopsychological questions as testable hypotheses, and distinguished itself from prior (“first generation”) ecopsychology on the basis of its embrace of technological progress and the scientific method. As a part of this shift, ecopsychologists of the “second generation” championed the notion that humans are a “Technological Species,” an ontological statement that naturalized the increasing sophistication of high technology as the result of inherent human drives, and established conceptual groundwork for studies that used consumer technology such as computers to mediate experiences of nature. In the final part of the paper, I critique the “Technological Species” proposition for obscuring the historical and material conditions that make the existence of consumer technology possible, such as the ecologically devastating mining of rare-earth metals on colonized land in Central and South America. I argue that, to be socially and ecologically accountable, ecopsychology should turn toward practices that help us make sense of consumer technology’s place in systems of colonialist and ecological violence, process our place within these systems as users of consumer technology, and build community less dependent on technology.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.