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Chapter

Cover The Politics of the Earth

12. Encountering the Anthropocene  

This chapter examines environmental discourses in light of recognition of humanity’s entry into the Anthropocene, an emerging geological epoch that dramatizes what is at stake in the politics of the Earth. The Anthropocene is the successor to the unusually benign and stable Holocene of the previous 12,000 years, during which human civilization evolved. The human institutions, practices, ideas, and discourses that still dominate the politics of the Earth all took shape under perceived Holocene conditions. The most important quality demanded of the configuration of environmental discourses is now a capacity to generate critical reflection on the trajectory of human societies in the context of an unstable Earth system. This will require meaningful deliberative and democratic engagement across discourses.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

37. Dipesh Chakrabarty  

Eva-Maria Nag

This chapter presents an overview of Dipesh Chakrabarty’s contribution to political thinking that is concerned with the human condition in the age of climate change. The chapter examines Chakrabarty’s argument that human-centred ways of thinking about the world and humanity are no longer appropriate. Moreover, Chakrabarty makes the case for bringing together natural and human history; for humans having become a geological force upon the planet; for capitalism having only a limited role in climate change; and for a new focus on planetary history, not merely human history. This chapter presents, Chakrabarty as a postcolonial historian and political thinker and then examines his conceptualization of the Anthropocene as a new historical and planetary era. This chapter further explores the complex connections between freedom, capitalism, and climate change. Chakrabarty insists the era of climate change needs new political perspectives beyond critiques of capitalism, colonialism, and globalization.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

38. Donna Haraway  

Claire Colebrook

This chapter explores the various disciplinary and political dimensions of Donna Haraway’s work revolving around the negotiation of the interdisciplinary problem of the Anthropocene. It considers Haraway’s works which range between feminist interventions in science studies, animal studies, and environmental criticism. Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto (1985) offers a feminist response to broadly Marxist accounts of the relationship between technology and history while also reconfiguring and responding to feminist forms of socialism. After briefly introducing Haraway’s contributions to standpoint theory and posthumanism, this chapter turns to an examination of her critique of science and her alternative way of considering the world in which the boundaries between the human and non-human disappear. Haraway outlines various ways to think about planetary change and develops a conception of the Chthulucene that captures the complexity of the present, including the transformation of nature through human histories.