Hunting for Nature's Treasures or Learning from Nature? The Narrative Ambivalence of the Ecotechnological Turn

Sanne van der Hout*, Martin Drenthen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Scientists need narrative structures, metaphors, and images to explain and legitimize research practices that are usually described in abstract and technical terms. Yet, sometimes they do not take proper account of the complexity and multilayered character of their narrative self-presentations. This also applies to the narratives of ecotechnology explored in this article: the treasure quest narrative used in the field of metagenomics, and the tutorial narrative proposed by the learning-from-nature movement biomimicry. Researchers from both fields tend to underestimate the general public's understanding of the inherent ambivalence of the narratives suggested by them; the treasure quest and tutorial narratives build upon larger master narratives that can be found throughout our culture, for instance, in literature, art, and film. We will show how these genres reveal the moral ambivalence of both narratives, using two well-known movies as illustrations: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1940).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-180
Number of pages19
JournalNature and Culture
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Keywords

  • biomimicry
  • ecotechnology
  • environmental ethics
  • metagenomics
  • narratives
  • resourcism
  • self-presentations
  • SCIENCE

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