The “deliberative turn” in green political theory and applied environmental decision-making is now well-established. However, questions remain about the applicability of its concepts and methods to non-Western or “nonmodern” contexts, to use a term from Gupte and Barlett's 2007 article in this journal that is the stimulus to this article. In such places the societal pre-conditions of modernity deemed theoretically necessary for “authentic deliberation” to occur are mostly absent. Yet, authentic deliberation does take place, prompting questions about the geographical and cultural bias of the deliberative environmental democratic project. This article takes up such questions, arguing that in deliberative theory modernity is more than a bias, which is highlighted when the nonmodern is counted in. Instead, in its noun-form modernity suggests a particular type of deliberating subject, replete with specific capacities and knowledge, which the nonmodern is, in true binary fashion, deemed to lack. This article draws on qualitative data from deliberative workshops in northern New Mexico, USA, to argue that such categorizations do not hold up to empirical or conceptual scrutiny, particularly in light of Bruno Latour's work on modernity and the Modern. Thus, this article argues that deliberative environmental democracy research should therefore be recast as an ethnographic and context-based project, and explores how such a project could be carried out.

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