Eben Kirksey (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton & Deakin University, Melbourne)
Despite a groundswell of popular action, global climate change is outpacing all attempted solutions. Capitalist enterprises are rapidly destroying forests and wetlands in diverse corners of the globe. These forces are stoppable. We must not renounce hopes for a liveable future. It is important—more than ever—to imagine the unimaginable. New figures of hope are proliferating as students march in the streets and XR identifies surprising targets. It is time to be open to the hopes of others, to be swept away in the power of collective dreaming. Indigenous peoples, who are still living with conditions of genocide, are important voices in the contemporary moment of mass extinction.
Intersectional political work, reaching across boundaries imposed by nations and languages, is critical at this juncture. Transnational companies, like the oil giant that tried to rebrand itself at 'Beyond Petroleum', are being held to account as powerful collaborative projects coalesce. Rather than anticipatory governance, it is time to engage in anticipatory action. Moving from the realm of abstract hope, to grounded practices of care, is critical as we think about surviving the Anthropocene. Urgent care work is required to keep endangered life forms in the world. As conservation dollars flow towards charismatic animals, it is time to consider a multitude of unloved others—frogs, insects, marine invertebrates—who are slipping away, beyond the myopic gaze of Anthropos.
Eben Kirksey is an American anthropologist who specializes in science and justice. Prof. Kirksey is best known for his work in multispecies ethnography and human rights work in West Papua. The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, is hosting Kirksey in the 2019-2020 academic year, where he is finishing a new book about gene editing, the innovation economy, and social inequality.
"Hope After the Anthropocene" is part of the Visual Cultures Public Programme Autumn 2019 "Living Extinction", organised by Wood Roberdeau and Lynn Turner with the support of the Critical Ecologies research stream.
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