Thursday, January 03, 2008


An interesting new word, via Andrew Sullivan. Of course, Native Americans (and all aborigianal peoples) were familiar with solastalgia for hundreds of years before anybody invented a term for the feeling that accompanies an overwhelming climatological and cultural devastation. Australians (and Americans alike) would do well to read this excellent article by Charles Taylor in the April 2007 New York Review of Books, describing the manner in which some tribes dealt with the desperation that accompanied the undermining of their entire worlds. In this age, perhaps all of us will need a measure of such courage.

1 comment:

Glenn said...

Hi there, I have written more extensively on solastalgia and one thing that I always emphasise is that Indigenous peoples have always experienced really profound forms of both nostalgia and solastalgia. In an article I wrote for the journal Alternatives (Canada) I wrote:

The indigenous peoples of the earth who have been dispossessed of their lands and its cultural meanings are also likely to experience the pathology of nostalgia. The nostalgia for a past where former geographical and cultural integration was both highly valued and sustainable is for them an ongoing painful experience. Worldwide, displaced indigenous people experience physical and mental illness at rates far beyond those of other groups of humans. Their social problems; unemployment, alcoholism, substance abuse, violence, disproportionately high rates of crime and incarceration, lead to community dysfunction and crisis. People, who are dispossessed, either by force, or via disaster, will experience the serious distress of nostalgia.

In the article I wrote for PAN, I spend a lot of time looking at the Indigenous context. I also claim in this article that "The full transdisciplinary idea of health involves the healing of solastalgia via cultural responses to degradation of the environment in the form of drama, art, dance and song at all scales of living from the bioregional to the global. The potential to restore unity in life and achieve genuine sustainability is a scientific, ethical, cultural and practical response to this ancient, ubiquitous but newly defined human illness."

I hope this helps,