Friday, January 30, 2009

More on "anarcho-primitivism" and rewilding

Despite the fact that I probably breezed past the subject of "rewilding" a bit too quickly in lecture the other day, the topic is another great topic either for a term paper or (note to self) for a future NTRES 2320 lecture.

It's important to note that "rewilding" has both a narrow usage (e.g., Harry Greene et al and "Pleistocene Rewilding") but also a far broader one, e.g., as used in the "anarcho-primitivism" social movement. Perhaps I too casually conflated the two senses in my lecture comments the other day, but I think it is a fairly straightforward matter to make some very real connections between these two uses of the term "rewilding."

For example, here is a NationMaster Encyclopedia entry that turns up from a quick google search on 'rewilding' and 'primitivism':
Encyclopedia > Rewilding

Rewilding is the process of undoing domestication.[1] In green anarchism and anarcho-primitivism, humans are said to be "domesticated" by civilization. Supporters of such human rewilding argue that through the process of domestication, our wildness has been tamed and taken from us.[2] Rewilding, then, is about overcoming our domestication and returning to our innate wildness. Though often associated with primitive skills and relearning knowledge of wild plants and animals, it emphasizes primal living as a holistic reality rather than just a number of skills or specific type of knowledge.

Rewilding is most associated with green anarchy and anarcho-primitivism or anti-civilization anarchy in general,[3] though there is a large primitive living contingent who come at it from a less militant direction.[4] Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization.

The term rewilding is also sometimes used to refer to efforts to correct perceived imbalances in the ecosystem based on differences between modern and prehistoric ecologies. Among these efforts is a proposal by Cornell graduate student Josh Donlan to introduce megafauna such as cheetahs, elephants, and lions to North America, where they have been extinct since the Pleistocene epoch 13,000 years ago.[5]

Another common use of the term 'rewilding' refers to the restoration of native plant species to a plot of land, such as a backyard or streamside.


  1. ^ "Rewilding" from Green Anarchist Infoshop
  2. ^ GA Collective & Coalition Against Civilization, "The Origins of Civilization
  3. ^ The GA & Wildroots Collectives, "A Primer for a Balanced Existence Amid the Ruins of Civilization"
  4. ^ "Visons" page at
  5. ^ "Proposal Would Allow Wild Animals to Roam North America," Cornell University Press Release

Again, this is a big topic and deserving of a more responsible treatment than I could give it in class. Perfect paper topic!

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