My research aims to develop a deeper academic understanding of how permaculture contributes to alternative sustainability politics, focusing on how permaculture is envisioned and enacted as social change. Drawing on textual analysis, semi-structured interviews with permaculture practitioners, and feminist political ecology and critical food studies literatures I argue that while permaculture design is critical of industrial modes of production it remains rooted in universalized ideals of sustainability found in Western society. The creators of permaculture's focus on apocalyptic narratives of peak oil, resource scarcity, and middle-class, individual-scale transformation positions sustainability as an issue universal to everyone while failing to account for global social, economic, and political inequalities. If permaculture's goal is truly social change, practitioners need to look beyond permaculture towards more radical traditions that centre intersectional social justice. Without these critical interventions, permaculture risks becoming a white middle-class space that reproduces capitalist and colonial social relations.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Collard, Rosemary