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The US Politics of Unsustainability: National Identity and the Genealogy of Unsustainable Environmental Practices and Discourse

Author Audrey LOETSCHER
Director of thesis Prof. Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet
Co-director of thesis Prof. Christian Arnsperger
Summary of thesis

Taking advantage of the developing field of American Studies at the University of Lausanne, I would like to explore a facet of American culture through the lens of the US’s approach to the environment and ecology. More specifically, I would like to work on the relationship between dominant master-narratives underlying American national identity and the unsustainable environmental discourse and practices that have marked US history and can still be observed on a broad scale today, as the country remains one of the least sustainable in terms of energy footprint and per-capita energy consumption. Indeed, amidst growing international concerns regarding resources scarcity and climate change, ecological issues remain largely absent of the American political debate and agenda. This, I hypothesize, owes to an ideology of abundance that has underlain the process of national self-determination throughout the nation’s historical course, by making possible two defining traits of national identity, namely equality and freedom. The US’s imperial character, driven in part by the necessity to maintain the idea of an abundant land actual, and therefore the notions of equality and freedom valid, works against the notions of self-imposed restrictions, limitations and other constraining measures, and fosters a politics of unsustainability. This, in turn, implies that the emergence of a new set of sustainable approaches and practices requires a thorough shifting of US national identity’s dominant paradigms.

Status middle
Administrative delay for the defence 2021
URL https://applicationspub.unil.ch/sylviamigr/interpub/noauth/php/Un/UnPers.php?Per
LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/audrey-loetscher-3316a77b?trk=hp-identity-photo