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From climate breakdown to the sixth mass extinction, claims of environmental breakdown and eco-apocalypse are hard to ignore: world ecologies are in a critical state. But the loss of life-sustaining ecosystems and the fall-out of environmental change are not experienced equally. The era of the Anthropocene is in fact an era marked by the geographically uneven distribution of environmental risks and burdens. For many indigenous peoples, their worlds have already been and gone, lost through colonial appropriation, extraction, and pollution. Resistance to these processes has in turn a much longer history and wider geography than often considered within the narratives of liberal, western environmentalism. Thinking critically means positioning ourselves within this longer, diverse tradition of minor environmentalism, operating at the intersections of race, class, work, gender and the environment. This module will introduce students to key texts, concepts, writers, and social movements operating within this broadly defined tradition.
Class-based discussions, guest talks, and site visits will reflect on the political, ethical, and aesthetic challenges of fostering hopeful politics in a time of environmental crisis, reactionary politics, and deepening global inequalities. In doing so, it brings into focus multiple radical futurisms—from Afrofuturism to indigenous speculative fiction, from Green New Deals to visions of multispecies flourishing—as critical resources for imagining something beyond the end of the world.
Readings and other materials will be drawn from the interdisciplinary fields of political ecology, science and technology studies, and the environmental humanities. Throughout, the creative engagement and interaction of scientists and artists will be at the heart of the course.