Book Review – Against the Anthropocene

Against the Anthropocene : Visual Culture and Environment Today

TJ Demos, Sternberg Press, 2017 

Professor TJ Demos is founder and director of the Centre for Creative Ecologies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

In a slim, very readable and well referenced volume illustrated throughout, TJ Demos sifts through the arguments to embrace life beyond the Anthropocene’s techno-fixes and geoengineered delusions. Documenting resistance around the globe to the destruction wreaked by petrochemical and extractive industries, Demos contends Anthropocene masks capitalism’s ‘responsibility for Earth-system disruption … diffusing political traction in the struggle against climate change.’ He cites calls for eco-feminist stewardship within the rights-of-nature movement in South America, BP’s self-serving sponsorship of museums and galleries and also post-heteronormative care for Earth-as-Lover ceremonies by performance artist-activists.  

 Whether we can summon the political will to construct post-capitalist localised sustainable cultures based on renewable energy, redistributive economics, with justice for climate and nature within the time available is open to question. But surely worth the effort. The dystopian alternative is of centralist, increasingly authoritarian governments with repressive militarised police enforcing ever-widening socio-economic inequalities, grasping for extreme geoengineered solutions to counter the disaster they have caused. Perhaps, it is time to make our voices heard. 

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