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What we Speak About When we Speak for Nature. The Dynamics of Representation and Rights in the New Ecuadorian Constitution.

Wednesday, 19 June, 2013 - 15:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Social Sciences and Solvay Business School
phd defence

The public defence of the Ph.D. in Political Science for Mihnea Tanasescu will take place on Wednesday June 19 2013 at 3 pm in the Promotion room, building D, 2nd floor, room D2.01, VUB-Campus Etterbeek, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel.

The Ph.D thesis is called "What we Speak About When we Speak for Nature. The Dynamics of Representation and Rights in the New Ecuadorian Constitution.'" (Promoters: Prof. dr. Kris Deschouwer and Prof. dr. Patrick Stouthuysen)

Please confirm your attendance by Friday June 15th to


This investigation is concerned with elaborating on the theory of political representation, particularly on its application to non-human beings. It therefore starts by introducing the subject and establishing that the lens of representation is appropriate for debating the role of non-humans in politics. It takes stock of the classical theories of political representation and, building on the work of others, proposes further innovations, inspired by the inclusion of non-humans within political debate. I show how the endorsed concept of representation can be seen at work in the Ecuadorian Constitutional Assembly, charged with drafting a new constitution of the state. This body enshrined, for the first time in history, constitutional rights for nature. In order to understand what is at stake in this formulation, it is not enough to have a sound conception of representation. Besides, the concept of rights needs to be understood, and the connection between rights and representation explored. I therefore present a theory of rights, while showing the connections between rights and representation to be structural. The argument further employs the theory of representation, now seen in its relations to the rights paradigm, to discuss the rights of nature in Ecuador, interrogating them from the points of view developed. The investigation then reflects on and summarizes the findings presented throughout, while suggesting further avenues for the development of political ecology.