Interrupting the Anthropo-obScene: Immuno-biopolitics and Depoliticizing More-than-Human Ontologies in the Anthropocene

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Abstract

This paper argues that ‘the Anthropocene’ is a deeply depoliticizing notion. This de- politicization unfolds through the creation of a set of narratives, what we refer to as ‘AnthropoScenes’, which broadly share the effect of off-staging certain voices and forms of acting. Our notion of the Anthropo-obScene is our tactic to both attest to and undermine the depoliticizing stories of ‘the Anthropocene’. We first examine how various AnthropoScenes, while internally fractured and heterogeneous, ranging from geo-engineering and Earth System science to more-than-human and object oriented ontologies, places things and beings, human and non-human, within a particular relational straitjacket that does not allow for a remainder or constitutive outside. This risks deepening an immunological bio-political fantasy that promises adaptive and resilient terraforming, an earth system management of sorts that permits life as we know it to continue for some, while turning into a necropolitics for others. Second, we develop a post-foundational political perspective in relation to our dramatically changing socioe-cological situation. This perspective understands the political in terms of performance and, in an Arendtian manner, re-opens the political as forms of public-acting in common that subtracts from or exceeds what is gestured to hold socio-ecological constellations together. We conclude that what is off-staged and rendered obscene in ‘the AnthropoScenes’ carries precisely the possibility of a return of the political.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory, Culture & Society
Early online date13 Feb 2018
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018