An Artforum Best Book of the YearA Legal Theory Bookworm Book of the YearNature no longer exists apart from humanity. Henceforth, the world we will inhabit is the one we have made. Geologists have called this new planetary epoch the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans. The geological strata we are now creating record industrial emissions, industrial-scale crop pollens, and the disappearance of species driven to extinction. Climate change is planetary engineering without design. These facts of the Anthropocene are scientific, but its shape and meaning are questions for politics—a politics that does not yet exist. After Nature develops a politics for this post-natural world.“After Nature argues that we will deserve the future only because it will be the one we made. We will live, or die, by our mistakes.”—Christine Smallwood, Harper’s“Dazzling…Purdy hopes that climate change might spur yet another change in how we think about the natural world, but he insists that such a shift will be inescapably political… For a relatively slim volume, this book distills an incredible amount of scholarship—about Americans’ changing attitudes toward the natural world, and about how those attitudes might change in the future.”—Ross Andersen, The Atlantic
Against Ecological Sovereignty is a passionate defense of radical ecology that speaks directly to current debates concerning the nature, and dangers, of sovereign power. Engaging the work of Bataille, Arendt, Levinas, Nancy, and Agamben, among others, Mick Smith reconnects the political critique of sovereign power with ecological considerations, arguing that ethical and political responsibilities for the consequences of our actions do not end with those defined as human.
Against Ecological Sovereignty is the first book to turn Agamben’s analysis of sovereignty and biopolitics toward an investigation of ecological concerns. In doing so it exposes limits to that thought, maintaining that the increasingly widespread biopolitical management of human populations has an unrecognized ecological analogue—reducing nature to a “resource” for human projects. Smith contends that a radical ecological politics must resist both the depoliticizing exercise of sovereign power and the pervasive spread of biopolitics in order to reveal new possibilities for creating healthy human and nonhuman communities.
Presenting a stinging critique of human claims to sovereignty over the natural world, Smith proposes an alternative way to conceive of posthumanist ecological communities—one that recognizes the utter singularity of the beings in them.
Far into the Atlantic Ocean, the outflow from the Amazon River creates a "sweet sea" of fresh water. At the river's mouth, a vast delta of river channels and marshes, floodplain and upland forests, open and scrub savannas, floating meadows, and mangrove swamps hosts an astonishingly diverse assemblage of plant and animal life. So rich is this biological treasure house that early European explorers deemed it inexhaustible.
In this highly readable book, Nigel Smith explores how human use of the Amazon estuary's natural resources has been affected by technological change, rapid urban growth, and accelerated market integration. Avoiding alarmist rhetoric, he shows how human intervention in the estuary has actually diversified agriculture and helped save floodplain forests from wanton destruction. His findings underscore the importance of understanding the history of land use and the ecological knowledge of local people when formulating development and conservation policies. The book will be of interest to everyone concerned with the fate of tropical forests, conserving biodiversity, and developing natural resources in a sustainable manner.
Widespread human alteration of the planet has led many scholars to claim that we have entered a new epoch in geological time: the Anthropocene, an age dominated by humanity. This ethnography is the first to directly engage the Anthropocene, tackling its problems and paradoxes from the vantage point of the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
Drawing from extensive ethnographic research, Nicholas Kawa examines how pre-Columbian Amerindians and contemporary rural Amazonians have shaped their environment, describing in vivid detail their use and management of the region’s soils, plants, and forests. At the same time, he highlights the ways in which the Amazonian environment resists human manipulation and control—a vital reminder in this time of perceived human dominance. Written in engaging, accessible prose, Amazonia in the Anthropocene offers an innovative contribution to debates about humanity’s place on the planet, encouraging deeper ecocentric thinking and a more inclusive vision of ecology for the future.
Focusing on long-term change, this book considers ethnographic literature, archaeological evidence, and environmental data spanning thousands of years of human presence to understand human perception and construction of landscape. The contributors offer cohesive and synthetic studies emphasizing hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers.
Using landscape as both reality and metaphor, Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains explores the different and changing ways that people interacted with place in this transitional zone between the Rocky Mountains and the eastern prairies.
The contemporary archaeologists working in this small area have chosen diverse approaches to understand the past and its relationship to the present. Through these ten case studies, this variety is highlighted but leads to a common theme - that the High Plains contains important locales to which people, over generations or millennia, return. Providing both data and theory on a region that has not previously received much attention from archaeologists, especially compared with other regions in North America, this volume is a welcome addition to the literature. Contributors:
o Paul Burnett
o Oskar Burger
o Minette C. Church
o Philip Duke
o Kevin Gilmore
o Eileen Johnson
o Mark D. Mitchell
o Michael R. Peterson
o Lawrence Todd
What happens if we abandon the assumption that a person is a discrete, world-making agent who acts on and creates place? This, Monique Allewaert contends, is precisely what occurred on eighteenth-century American plantations, where labor practices and ecological particularities threatened the literal and conceptual boundaries that separated persons from the natural world.
Integrating political philosophy and ecocriticism with literary analysis, Ariel’s Ecology explores the forms of personhood that developed out of New World plantations, from Georgia and Florida through Jamaica to Haiti and extending into colonial metropoles such as Philadelphia. Allewaert’s examination of the writings of naturalists, novelists, and poets; the oral stories of Africans in the diaspora; and Afro-American fetish artifacts shows that persons in American plantation spaces were pulled into a web of environmental stresses, ranging from humidity to the demand for sugar. This in turn gave rise to modes of personhood explicitly attuned to human beings’ interrelation with nonhuman forces in a process we might call ecological.
Certainly the possibility that colonial life revokes human agency haunts works from Shakespeare’s Tempest and Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws to Spivak’s theories of subalternity. In Allewaert’s interpretation, the transformation of colonial subjectivity into ecological personhood is not a nightmare; it is, rather, a mode of existence until now only glimmering in Che Guevara’s dictum that postcolonial resistance is synonymous with “perfect knowledge of the ground.”
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