Un ambiente ‘preterintenzionale’? Radici del dualismo soggettivo/oggettivo nella transizione ecologica europea (Un’indagine etno-giuridica nell’immaginario ortodosso della Romania rurale)

This study explores the role of intention as a pivotal principle in the perception and application of concepts such as ‘justice’ and ‘sustainability’ within rural communities during the European energy transition. Through an ethnographic survey I personally conducted in 2023 among Christian Orthodox communities in rural Romania, I investigated the challenges related to energy transition and achieving the goals outlined by the European Green Deal. I focused on the state directive to reduce and eradicate the widespread use of woody biomass for domestic heating and the shift to the use of new technologies and regenerative resources. Field research revealed that this heating practice reflects deep dynamics related to the relationship between humans and the environment. This relationship is developed within the Christian Orthodox universe, in which human beings are conceived as co- participants in the continuous creation of the world and, therefore, have an obligation to responsible and purposeful use of natural resources. In a context of anthropological inquiry that looks at what people think they do, it has emerged how local perceptions regarding community use of wood are read in a positive light, as related to a sustainable way of living that derives livelihood from the land. At the same time, new environmental regulations appear in the eyes of indigenous people to be new ways for institutions to exploit land and generate further poverty, especially considering the high costs of alternative heating technologies.
Understanding the intentionality coefficient embedded in the representation of indigenous land use processes, such as the use of wood for heating, is a prerequisite for the development and management of coherent and inclusive transition pathways.
This is because categories such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘environmental protection’ cannot be elaborated a priori and based on abstract presumptions of universality and objectivity. Their universal articulation can only be considered such on the condition that their interpretations and implementations are interpenetrated with locally generated and culturally idiomatic cognitive frameworks and reservoirs of practices. In this sense, the environment experienced in Romanian rural communities is ‘subjective’ only when observed from a European perspective that assumes itself as the rational-objective axis. On the contrary, to the extent that such an environmental context is interwoven with behavioral patterns stemming from the axiological-intentional dimension but, at the same time, embodied in the phenomenology of the material world, it can be qualified— with an only seemingly paradoxical metaphor—as objectively pre-intentional. In other words, it encapsulates an intention that has become matter through the dynamic interaction between human subject and living context. This consideration made it possible to grasp the multiple challenges and contradictions inherent in the European energy transition, highlighting the complex interconnection between a positivist-normative approach corresponding to community perspective and local culture.
In conclusion, the analysis stresses the importance of actively including local perspectives in European and national decision-making: perspectives understood as an inescapable prerequisite for ensuring the effectiveness and justice of energy transition policies. This approach appears essential to promote policy formulation sensitive to the specific needs and visions of the communities involved, thus contributing to a more equitable energy transition.

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