Politics of the Anthropocene

August 1, 2019 - Categorised in: -

Over the last 40 years, the growing awareness of the profound impact of human activities on the planet, its ecosystems and its climate has given rise to a wide range of ‘social movements’ calling for the protection, conservation, and/or sustainable use of the environment and its resources. While many consider environmental issues – and their solutions – to be apolitical, championed by actors on different ends of the political spectrum and indistinctively cutting through class, race, gender and ethnicity (“We are all in this together”), this undergraduate course helps students unveil the different (and often conflicting) ethical positions and values underpinning the ‘environmental turn’ in contemporary political claim-making.

Following a broad introduction on the current state of the global environment, we will be drawing on environmental humanities and environmental social sciences to critically explore some of the most vocal claims surrounding ecological and environmental issues, including ‘deep ecology’, ‘ecomodernism’, ‘environmental justice’, ‘ecofeminism’, and the recent ‘transition movements’. Where do these movements come from? What are their conceptual and political roots? What influences have shaped the way they have emerged? What ethical and epistemological positions can we find in their discourses and narratives? And what do these different elements tell us about current efforts to reduce humanity’s environmental impact?

Some references:

  • Dauvergne (2016) Environmentalism of the rich. MIT Press
  • Martinez-Allier (2002) The Environmentalism of the Poor. Edward Elgar
  • Robbins, P (2012). Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction. Wiley.
  • Sicotte and Brulle (2018) “Social Movements for Environmental Justice Through the Lens of Social Movement Theory”. In Holifield, Chakraborty and Walker (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice. Routledge
  • Wapner and Willoughby (2005) The Irony of Environmentalism: The Ecological Futility but Political Necessity of Lifestyle Change. Ethics and International Affairs 19(3): 77-89