chapter  22
9 Pages

Ecological citizenship in Latin America

ByAlex Latta, Hannah Wittman

In early modern political thought, the emerging institution of citizenship is often theorized in terms of a departure from a hypothetical ‘state of nature’. If that state of nature was partly a thought experiment for philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, it was also an actually existing place in relation to the European civilizational project. The dawn of the modern era in the Old World was intimately tied to – and actually depended upon – colonial projects in the New World, where a civilizing mission addressed itself to indigenous populations that were seen to embody the very state of nature that Europeans had supposedly transcended. Indigenous peoples were to be either killed, enslaved, or civilized, while New World nature was to be tapped for its abundant wealth in minerals, timber, and agricultural soils. In this way, the colonies of the Americas contributed both ideologically and materially to the emergence of Western political society.