Book Review: Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime by Bruno Latour

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/11/2019 - 1:00am in

In Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, Bruno Latour explores the political and philosophical challenges proper to a time defined by an environmental and socio-economic crisis. Rodrigo Muñoz-González welcomes this energetic, compelling and provocative attempt to find an alternative vision to the contradictory and flawed project of modernity.  This post originally appeared on LSE Review of Books. If you would like to contribute […]

Labor’s “brave” review fails to upstage Morrison’s incompetence.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 10/11/2019 - 11:16pm in

Were politics reset in keeping with the times, the parties would concede that it is not a contest between social democracy and a capitalist free-for-all, or “the light on the hill” and “the forgotten people”, or even conservatives and progressives, but one in which the ghosts of organisations that once had some claim to represent…

The post Labor’s “brave” review fails to upstage Morrison’s incompetence. appeared first on The AIM Network.

Politics and the Anthropocene: Interview with author Duncan Kelly on ‘a puzzle, a problem, a dilemma’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/10/2019 - 10:04pm in

In his new book Politics and the Anthropocene (Polity), Duncan Kelly, Professor of Political Thought and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge, considers how this new geological era could shape our future by engaging with the recent past of political thought and the potential for democratic politics to negotiate this challenge. In this interview he speaks to Robert McLachlan, Distinguished Professor in the School of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University, who writes on climate and the global ecological crisis at

Politics and the Anthropocene: Interview with author Duncan Kelly on ‘a puzzle, a problem, a dilemma’

Robert McLachlan: Today we seem to be seeing the convergence of several factors: the ecological crisis; an apparent change in democracy such as the decline of the traditional political parties; the rise of social media; and the emergence of ‘fake news’. Is their simultaneous emergence a coincidence? They seem to be related.

Duncan Kelly: They are related in some way. The climate crisis, and our awareness of it, is connected to a deep-seated worry about the future of democracy and its ability to cope with crises that affect the lived environment. Also, the post-truth phenomenon is much more easily seen through the prism of the climate catastrophe, because it’s such an obvious space in which actors can disagree. The disagreements can be curated in particular spaces, especially online ones which allow people to filter their viewpoints and find out what they think they want to hear, and then see more of what they think they want to know. There must be connections between those things, although it’s difficult to say if one causes the other.

Some people argue that because democratic politics is so (relatively speaking) new, the fact that it’s in a slump or crisis is only what we should have expected. All political regimes rise and fall. Democracy as we know it, for most people, is only 100 years old. And even then, it was hardly equality for everyone. It still doesn’t signify for most people in most places anything beyond the most rudimentary equality, where everyone gets a vote. We’ve become accustomed to democracy over several generations, but there’s no reason to think it will last forever.

RM: So if we believe in the future of democracy, we need to be constantly reminding people of what it is and its value.

DK: Absolutely. But so many clever and interesting people over the last 70 years have argued that the best thing about democracy is that it is so minimal that you can disaggregate the value from the process. If all you want is a fairly thin account of democracy as a procedure –everyone has citizenship, everyone has the right to vote, democracy is just about the competition for votes between the politicians and the rest of us, the politicians get on and do what they want and leave us alone to do what we want – then that’s the best you can have. But that suggests that democracy itself doesn’t have any intrinsic value; it’s just a process.

RM: In climate change circles, it’s discussed whether this global-scale ecological problem is a fundamental difficulty for democracy. Perhaps it’s only a difficulty for this very thin democracy?

DK: I think so. Because we so readily think of democracy as bound up with nations and territories and states that have their own interests and populations which are supposed to come first, it’s difficult to see the possibility of democracy as a procedure that can unify a set of interests between states. This is why international agreements are so very difficult to achieve. That’s before you even get down into the detail of what people are trying to discuss, like treaties and regulations. International cooperation is massively difficult.

RM: It’s difficult, and we don’t have many positive examples.

DK: That’s true. One of the things I tried to do in The Politics of the Anthropocene is to say that even the sorts of examples that we have of large-scale international management and cooperation, from the League of Nations after the First World War through to the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals, all come packaged in ways that have their inequalities baked into them from the outset. Assumptions about civilisation and hierarchies, racial and economic exclusions, are so deeply entrenched in the mindsets of the people who were involved with them that they were bound to run into the limits of their own imagination quite quickly.

RM: You nonetheless write that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5ºC report is a ‘radical political document’.

DK: I think it is! Their reports, both 1.5ºC and the more recent one on land use, have become increasingly radical, in tone and in message. The language through which the radicalism is expressed is often very, very flat – and has to be, because it’s not supposed to be an overtly political document. However, that slogan, ‘1.5 to stay alive’, was incredibly radical. It captured something of the zeitgeist. People do recognise that temperature is a very obvious manifestation of climate change, even if you read David Wallace-Wells’s recent popular book, just laying out in narrative fashion what is already happening and what is inescapably going to happen. It won’t take much warming for humans to become unable to survive in certain climates. So where should the action be, politically, in response to this document? It does seem to be another instance where an environmental conclusion becomes a motivation for individuals: you think ‘what can I do to change my behaviour?’ Though whether it opens up the possibility for large-scale political or corporate change is a really difficult question.

RM: You’re strongly opposed to fatalism, of both the optimistic kind (‘technology and markets will save us’) and the pessimistic (‘we’re doomed, why bother trying?’). That suggests that fatalism has to be overturned first, before we can make progress.

DK: I think so. Although it sounds glib to say so, often one needs a crisis to motivate political change. Yet it’s a very difficult gambit, a tragic dilemma. If there is a climate crisis then that might motivate people to think differently, but it could also make action impossible. In politics we need to keep options open. That’s one thing that mainstream politicians are very well aware of. But their reason for keeping options open is to delay decisions, because decisions constrain their capacity to manoeuvre. Looked at the other way around, what people who think about politics want to ensure is that there’s a way of seeing the world differently from just the constraints that are taken as given: namely, the idea that there’s no possible alternative to the current system.

Image Credit: (Sam Saunders CC BY SA 2.0)

RM: Is that something that is provided by activists like Extinction Rebellion? Many people are inspired by them, but some are alarmed that it looks undemocratic and out of control.

DK: I can see both sides! When people feel strongly enough to march, mainstream politicians have to take them seriously. And people are going to think, ‘Is it really that bad? Have I misunderstood?’ But there could be many things that people might want to think about on how they might engage with climate change. Not everyone is going to want to stand in the streets. But they can help raise awareness, and in doing so, they are able to help us think about how we might change the narrative and the vision. And that’s crucial.

RM: You write about the limits to growth. It’s striking that the whole idea of limits to growth has been studied for several hundred years. We appear now to be bumping right up against those limits, and yet there’s still no consensus on whether economic growth can or should continue forever.

DK: And it’s very difficult for politicians to get out of this mindset, too. Economic growth helps fund them. It supports the regime that has been, historically speaking, successful. The idea of perpetual growth is the kind of hope or panacea that allows you to get to the point of Donald Trump or Elon Musk. It allows you to say: ‘Look, as a species we’ve come up against these sorts of crises in the past, and economic advancement or necessity has fuelled technological innovation which has solved particular problems.’ To me, that’s precisely one of those ‘optimistic fatalist’ arguments that we should be worried about. Because at some point one of these crises is going to be so big and so difficult and so intractable, that that might be the end. But that’s also a difficult position to think about politically, because if you think it’s the end times, then what’s the point in doing anything?

RM: There’s another scenario which is almost as bad, in which you do have continued economic growth and continued ecological decline, and the debate doesn’t move forward.

DK: Yes, it’s a very difficult thought for most people to get their head around. In people’s everyday lives, however they make their living, they’re often told that (in this individualistic society) if you work hard, you’ll do well, and if you do well, you’ll make money, and you make money because the system is geared towards growing and expanding in perpetuity. This is a system of political and social order whereby people assume that what they do matters only for them, and that they are the fundamental unit of analysis: societies that people for shorthand call ‘neoliberal’. Even since the Second World War, you can see that along with the ideology of economic growth, there’s been an increasingly rapid series of ecological crises. There has to be some sense in which we might wonder about the balance between the environment we inhabit and our actions within it and our effects on other species. Many economists and political theorists have, in fact, been thinking about this for a very long time.

RM: So do we need to defeat neoliberalism before we can solve ecological problems? Or is neoliberalism more of a superficial phenomenon, a symptom?

DK:  It’s more a symptom. Values will change. The narratives that we tell about the values that we share, or that we’d like to share, will change. That’s just the ebb and flow of human societies. Neoliberalism is not eternal, just like the so-called Thirty Glorious Years of Keynesian economic growth was not eternal. One of the lessons of politics, if there is one, is that nothing lasts forever. So the spaces are always open. The question is, what triggers a shift in the narrative? Is it necessarily a crisis, an explicit recognition of failure? Or can people change the narrative because they have better arguments? And the capacity to mobilise them! Plenty of people have better ideas about economics than boilerplate neoliberal editorials in certain newspapers, but no capacity to bring them to bear on mainstream party politics: that’s a real disconnect.

But I do think that it’s possible for politicians to change the game both from within, and for the game to be changed from without. In the Scottish independence vote, 16-year-olds were allowed to vote. In the UK we see different sorts of cleavages and interests, depending on age, education and geography – all within a very disparate and disunited UK. You could easily see a radical shift if the voting age were lowered to sixteen. Some people think it should go lower; some people think it’s ludicrous to change it. If there is going to be transformation, it’s going to come mostly from the younger generation.

Image Credit: (Gabriel Civita Ramirez CC BY SA 2.0)

RM: A related question, ‘What do we actually owe the future?’, also never seems to arrive at a consensus view.

DK: This debate has been going on for at least 70 years. The connections between science, politics, policy and internationalism in debates about intergenerational justice are incredibly difficult. Why I began and ended my book with a discussion of what the Anthropocene opens up in thinking about competing timeframes for understanding politics and history now is that the issue of intergenerational justice strikes most of us as difficult to think about. It’s easy to say, ‘I’d like the world to be better for my children.’ But what does that mean? How do we think about the timeframe involved in that? Most parents hope to see their children live to adulthood and begin to flourish. But at least there’s an overlap of generations. You see your children and perhaps your grandchildren. But what does justice require into the very, very long future?

The best work in this area in the past 50 years has butted up against a problem of timing. Can we really imagine the mindsets of other humans hundreds of years after our deaths? Or how our actions will be judged by them? And what we owe to these distant others? There’s more here than just the way we know our actions have an impact on their future environment. To go back a step: thinking about intergenerational justice going forward might require us to think more about it looking backward. How did we get here? That’s why I think that historians of political and economic ideas might have more to say about a puzzle, a problem, a dilemma like the Anthropocene.

RM: The dominant strand in climate change responses is all about technology, legal remedies, economics and so on. My impression is that you think that’s not going to be enough.

DK: It may be – it may be that’s just what we do, we muddle through. That’s democracy’s history! It may have some grand origin moments, and crises; it may ebb and flow. It might not survive into the future, and that might be no bad thing. There may be better or different ways of doing politics.

But although I see a need to challenge the perspective through which we do our politics, it may be that doesn’t happen; but our politics will nonetheless have to cope with what the climate throws at it, and what that means for massive displacement of people and resources, when places become uninhabitable. When populations do move, when resources do shift between the Global North and the Global South – if we still call them that – then politics will have to deal with it. This goes back to whether or not it’s crisis that motivates political change, or whether political change can come without the need for war, revolution or, in this case, climate epoch-alypse.

Although I don’t think there are any obvious answers as to what we should do in the face of massive climate displacement and a challenge like the Anthropocene, we need to see politics as a problem space that always has to be kept open, that avoids the thought of an inbuilt teleology or fatalism or the belief that it only ever works within the contours and constraints of an ideological system that says, ‘This is the only way. There is no alternative.’

Much of the most interesting work, in theory and in practice, in the history of political and economic ideas over the past hundred years and more has been precisely geared towards teaching us that politics is not just about process, it’s not just about constraint, it’s not just about an ideology. It’s about seeing a shifting, human predicament, moving forward in time and space, and seeing people’s ways of dealing with values and conflicts over resources. Putting them in historical perspective and saying: ‘Look, there are a whole series of different ways we could do this. Some of them are less stupid than others. Maybe we should try them?’ And that’s it. That’s all I’m in any position to say.

Duncan Kelly is Professor of Political Thought and Intellectual History in the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. He is a co-editor of the journal Modern Intellectual History, and has written broadly on the history of modern political ideas. This interview touches on themes from his most recent book, Politics and the Anthropocene (Polity Press, 2019), and he is currently working on an intellectual history of the First World War.

Robert McLachlan studied mathematics at the University of Canterbury and Caltech, focusing on scientific computing, and is now Distinguished Professor in the School of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand. He writes on climate and the global ecological crisis at In a recent article for Scientific American Blogs, he argued that the framing of anthropogenic climate change as a global tragedy of the commons was slow to be discovered, slow to be appreciated and has yet to achieve widespread popular recognition.

Note: This interview gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

The Case for the Green New Deal with Ann Pettifor – 23rd October

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/10/2019 - 10:30pm in

The Case for the Green New Deal
Ann Pettifor

6-8pm, Wednesday 23rd October

Richard Hoggart Building (RHB), 137a

Please join Ann Pettifor, Nick Taylor and Aeron Davis for an event to launch Ann’s new book The Case for the Green New Deal (Verso, 2019). To protect the future of life on earth, we need to do more than just reimagine the economy – we have to change everything. One of the seminal thinkers of the program that helped ignite the US Green New Deal campaign, Ann Pettifor explains how we can afford what we can do, and what we need to do, before it is too late. The Case for the Green New Deal argues that economic change is wholly possible, based on the understanding that finance, the economy and the ecosystem are all tightly bound together. The GND demands total decarbonization and a commitment to an economy based on fairness and social justice. It proposes a radical new understanding of the international monetary system. Pettifor offers a roadmap for financial reform both nationally and globally, taking the economy back from the 1%. This is a radical, urgent manifesto that we must act on now.

Ann Pettifor is a political economist, author and campaigner. She is Director of Policy Research at PRIME, a fellow of both the New Economics Foundation and CITYPERC, Chair of Goldsmiths Political Economy Research Centre (PERC), and on the Labour Party’s Economic Advisory Committee. Ann was a co-founder of the Jubilee 2000 campaign for the cancellation of poor country debt. In the early 2000s she was one of the few economists to predict the forthcoming 2007-08 global financial crisis. In 2008, she was a founding member of the UK Green New Deal group of economists and activists. She is the author of a number of important books, including The Real World Economic Outlook (2003, Palgrave), The Coming First World Debt Crisis (2006, Palgrave), Just Money (2014, Commonwealth) and The Production of Money (2017, Verso).

Nick Taylor is a Lecturer in Political Economy and a Research Fellow for the ESRC-sponsored Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), working with Will Davies in the Political Economy Research Centre (PERC) at Goldsmiths. Before that he was the coordinator of the IPE Research Cluster at Warwick. He is a political economist with research interests in the history of the welfare state, history of economic thought and international political economy. His recent work focuses on how climate change is being managed as a risk in the financial sector, especially by intermediaries working for insurers and pension funds.

Aeron Davis is Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of Goldsmiths PERC. Throughout his career he has researched the cultures, decision-making and practices of economic elites, including City fund managers, FTSE 100 CEOs and Treasury chancellors, ministers and civil servants. He has published widely on these topics and is the author or editor of 8 books, including most recently (with Karel Williams) Elites and Power After Financialization (2017, Sage), Reckless Opportunists (2018, MUP), and Political Communication: A New Introduction for Crisis Times (2019, Polity). He is currently writing an inside history of the Treasury since 1976.


All are welcome and no registration is required. For details on how to find Goldsmiths, click here.

The post The Case for the Green New Deal with Ann Pettifor – 23rd October appeared first on Political Economy Research Centre.

Book Review: Theory for the World to Come: Speculative Fiction and Apocalyptic Anthropology by Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 9:18pm in



In Theory for the World to Come: Speculative Fiction and Apocalyptic AnthropologyMatthew J. Wolf-Meyer argues that speculative fiction offers a rich vein to theorise catastrophe and crisis in ways that are not paralysing or demoralising, drawing on the work of those such as Octavia E. Butler and Kurt Vonnegut. This book admirably succeeds in showing its source material to offer a repository of potential paths forward through multifarious possible futures, writes Frankie Hines

Theory for the World to Come: Speculative Fiction and Apocalyptic Anthropology. Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer. University of Minnesota Press. 2019.

Find this book: amazon-logo

How can we theorise catastrophe and crisis in ways that are not paralysing or demoralising? Is it still possible to chart a path out of the Anthropocene and its seemingly irresolvable contradictions, or is it too late? If the possibility remains, what resources can we marshal to aid us in this project? In Theory for the World to Come, Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer argues that speculative fiction—comprising works across a number of genres that envision multifarious possible futures—contains a rich vein of inquiry into these questions. For Wolf-Meyer, speculative fiction is a kind of social theory that is capable of weaving around the foibles and contradictions that haunt most theory. Both traditions, he argues, ‘ask us as audiences to imagine the rules that undergird a society and its human and more-than-human relationships’ (5). Speculative fiction is not just a utopian project of envisioning ideal societies, however: it is also concerned with the more prosaic and tentative, but no less necessary task of finding ‘ways to live through the apocalypse’ (15).

Through readings of novels by Octavia E. Butler, Stephen Graham Jones, Kurt Vonnegut and John Wyndham, films including Blue Collar (1978) and RoboCop (1987) and works by the geologist Dougal Dixon and the journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, Wolf-Meyer seeks out theories ‘that will help to build a sustainable, equitable world after collapse’, or that ‘will change the possible futures that have come to grip our imaginations’ (18). These readings are oriented by a framework comprising three terms: extrapolation; intensification; and mutation. Works of social theory, including works of speculative fiction, tend to evince one or other of these ways of imagining the future. Extrapolation refers to approaches which imagine the future functioning of a social institution otherwise unchanged: how capitalism will look in a few decades, or what form the family might take. Intensification involves imagining an increase in a phenomenon’s potency or pervasiveness: what would happen if the logic of the market comes to subsume an even greater segment of social life, or if extreme weather becomes yet more extreme. Mutation occurs when radical, unpredictable transformations of existing phenomena are envisioned: how societies might respond if the family was replaced by some wholly new set of arrangements, or if climate trends reversed themselves and a new Ice Age suddenly began.

Situated alongside Wolf-Meyer’s theoretical observations are autobiographical chapters dealing with his experiences of living in Michigan, California and New York. Lines of connection are drawn between these passages and the readings that comprise the bulk of the book: Wolf-Meyer’s reflections on growing up in the Detroit suburbs link up with representations of that city in RoboCop and Blue Collar, his account of California as a state constantly on the verge of one catastrophe or another is placed in dialogue with Butler’s fiction and his discussion of deindustrialisation and environmental contamination in Binghamton, New York, draws on The Twilight Zone and the horror film C.H.U.D. (1984). The inclusion of these substantial autobiographical passages (they might be better termed autoethnographic or autotheoretical) is perhaps a curious decision, yet these chapters never fail to provide insight, and their relevance to the book’s broad themes—crisis, catastrophe and responses to these—is indisputable.

Image Credit: Joshua Trees, Mojave Desert (Rennett Stowe CC BY 2.0)

That fiction can be mined for theoretical insights is not a wholly new argument, yet Wolf-Meyer’s conceit succeeds for two reasons in particular. First, it is grounded in an admirably radical critique of the academy: that is to say, of the primary site in which social theory is produced today. The theoretical modes and approaches that have emerged and become dominant since the 1950s have, in Wolf-Meyer’s view, been tainted by their origins in a context marked by a ‘sense of comfort, a lack of hardship, an acceptance of global, national, and local power relations, [and] an acceptance of a certain kind of inevitability inspired by a general level of prosperity’ (9). Social theory, he contends, has been defanged by the complacency of European and North American societies over the last several decades, and has been too willing to accept that ‘there is no alternative’. Importantly, Wolf-Meyer does not exempt himself from this critique, nor does he insulate the imagined reader: both are products of an academic milieu that values above all work that ‘reinforce[s] already-existing modes of knowledge production and theoretical models’ (12).

Second, the argument of Theory for the World to Come succeeds insofar as it is designed specifically as an intervention into the complexities and bewilderments of the current moment. The introductory chapter gives an outline of what we know about the next few decades, and what we don’t know, that is both frightening and accurate: we can expect rising sea levels, mass extinctions and food shortages as a bare minimum, but might just as easily also see epidemics, economic recessions and/or natural disasters, all exacerbating and exacerbated by each other (3). This is proof of what Wolf-Meyer calls Wyndham’s rule: ‘The apocalypse is never singular; it is always multiple. In its multiplicity, the apocalypse is unimaginable’ (4). This attentiveness to the problematics of the present and near future might mean that the book will lose some of its punch in the coming years, but clearly Wolf-Meyer believes—and I would concur—that this is a price well worth paying.

Theory for the World to Come is a slender volume, clocking in at 100 pages exactly, as part of the University of Minnesota Press’s Forerunners: Ideas First series, which prioritises exploratory theoretical interventions, the result of thought-in-process rather than finished products. As such, to point out topics that go unaddressed and lines of inquiry that remain unresolved would be to miss the point somewhat. Nonetheless, it is interesting that Theory for the World to Come lacks a theory of what (speculative) fiction is. Social theory and speculative fiction have in common the quality of being speculative, but the latter is also defined, surely, by its fictionality. In light of recent theorising around the nature of fiction and its relation to fact (see, for example, David Shields’s ever-more-relevant Reality Hunger [2010]), Wolf-Meyer’s reluctance to question the category jars somewhat. ‘Speculative fiction’ encompasses, for Wolf-Meyer, films, novels and at least one overtly non-fiction book; high- and low-brow texts; sci-fi and social realism alike; and the book could benefit from asking what draws these together under this rubric.

On the book’s final page, Wolf-Meyer observes that social theory and speculative fiction are ‘not just a game of “what if?” but a challenge to complacency and resignation’ (100). Rather than merely diagnosing problems, both these modes of thinking pose ‘necessarily unsettling’ questions about alternative worlds and how to bring them into being (100). This is also the modus operandi of Theory for the World to Come, which treats its source material as a repository of possible paths forward, and of tools to chart them. Wolf-Meyer succeeds at this task in admirable fashion, and in doing so provides a study that is likely to be of significant interest to students and scholars working in the cultural and literary disciplines, those whose inclinations are theoretical and especially those working at the intersections of these areas.

Frankie Hines is a doctoral researcher in English Literature at the University of Westminster. His research is on the literature of anarchist movements in the contemporary United States, and focuses on anarchist literary engagements with the politics of space, place and movement. He received his BA in American Studies and MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature, Culture and Thought from the University of Sussex.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Risk and Uncertainty in the Anthropocene Conference – 26th June 2019

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 9:40pm in

Goldsmiths hosted a one-day conference, supported by the Political Economy Research Centre and the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity

The conference aimed to explore from a multidisciplinary perspective the role of risk and uncertainty in the Anthropocene. It explored the specific logics, strategies, forms of knowledge and technologies that different actors are, or should be, using to approach risk and uncertainty.

You can listen to Prof. Geoff Mann’s keynote talk here


10.00 | Welcome – Nick Taylor (Goldsmiths)

10:10 | Opening Keynote – Geoff Mann (Simon Fraser University) – Tragic Liberalism: The Impossible Story of the Anthropocene

11.30 | Panel I – Knowing and governing risk: past, present and future

Geopolitical Ecologies of Risk in the Everywhere War—Patrick Bigger* & Benjamin Neimark (Lancaster University)

Firm and Super-Firm: An Intellectual History of Cap-and-Trade – Troy Vettese (New York University)

Ontological Uncertainty and Knowing the Future: a Sociology of Knowledge for the Anthropocene?—Jana Bacevic (University of Cambridge)

13:00 | Break

14:00 | Panel II – Technologies and models of anticipation

On Capital’s Watch: Derivative Nature and the Temporal Logic of Biodiversity Credits—Josh Bowsher and Theo Reeves-Evison (Brunel University & Birmingham City University)

Emergent Environments: Technologies of Anticipating Socio-ecological Futures—Sophie Haines (University of Oxford)

Exploring Anthropocene Futures with Reflexive Deliberation and Unsettling Political Scenarios—Duncan McLaren*, Bron Szerszynski, David Tyfield, Rebecca Willis, Andrew Jarvis and Nils Markusson (Lancaster University)

15:30 | Break

15:45 | Closing Keynote – Louise Amoore (Durham University) – Computing Uncertainty: Governing Futures with Machine Learning

17:00 | Closing Remarks – Will Davies (Goldsmiths)


The scale and timing of existing and potential impacts of environmental degradation in the Anthropocene appear to belie our efforts to interpret and manage them. Yet ‘risk management’ remains the dominant mode of representing and governing catastrophic environmental change, with the pretension of ‘taming uncertainty’. Managed as risk, environmental breakdown and catastrophe can be approached in accounting and investment terms: they can be rendered ‘investable’, and conducive to market opportunity and framings such as ‘natural capital’.

This ‘new era’ of environmental breakdown challenges established forms of expertise and authority and tasks us with thinking about new approaches to politics and political economy. Embracing radical uncertainty permits us to consider multiple, alternative futures, opening up for discussion political and economic settlements seemingly out of reach. But given the timescales for responding to threats such as the climate crisis, what kind of politics or political economy does fast approaching existential risk provoke? Suggestions for ‘war mobilisation’ analogies in fighting climate change or ideas about engineering the planet might give some indication.

In facing the need for transformative and systemic change, it is also necessary to question who will bear the risks and uncertainties of the Anthropocene. How will risk and the costs of mitigation be distributed over time and space? Where will it be situated – locally, at the urban level, globally – and what consequences does this have for different disciplinary approaches?

The post Risk and Uncertainty in the Anthropocene Conference – 26th June 2019 appeared first on Political Economy Research Centre.

Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after Nature

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/05/2015 - 6:43pm in

An interdisciplinary discussion of Jamie Lorimer's book Jamie Lorimer (Associate Professor in Human Geography, University of Oxford) discusses his book with William Beinart (Rhodes Professor of Race Relations, University of Oxford), Daniel Grimley (Professor of Music, University of Oxford) and Nikolaj Lübecker (Associate Professor of French, University of Oxford).

In Wildlife in the Anthropocene, Jamie Lorimer argues that the idea of nature as a pure and timeless place characterized by the absence of humans has come to an end. Offering a thorough appraisal of the Anthropocene—an era in which human actions affect and influence all life and all systems on our planet—Lorimer unpacks its implications for changing definitions of nature and the politics of wildlife conservation.