The Unconstructable Earth: An Ecology of Separation

The Unconstructable Earth: An Ecology of Separation


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Winner, Grand Prize, French Voices Award for Excellence in Publication and Translation

The Space Age is over? Not at all! A new planet has appeared: Earth. In the age of the Anthropocene, the Earth is a post-natural planet that can be remade at will, controlled and managed thanks to the prowess of geoengineering. This new imaginary is also accompanied by a new kind of power—geopower—that takes the entire Earth, in its social, biological and geophysical dimensions, as an object of knowledge, intervention, and governmentality. In short, our rising awareness that we have destroyed our planet has simultaneously provided us not with remorse or resolve but with a new fantasy: that the Anthropocene delivers an opportunity to remake our terrestrial environment thanks to the power of technology.

Such is the position we find ourselves in, when proposals for reengineering the earth’s ecosystems and geosystems are taken as the only politically feasible answer to ecological catastrophe. Yet far from being merely the fruit of geo-capitalism, this new grand narrative of geopower has also been activated by theorists of the constructivist turn—ecomodernist, postenvironmentalist, accelerationist—who have likewise called into question the great divide between nature and culture. With the collapse of this divide, a cyborg, hybrid, flexible nature has been built, an impoverished nature that does not exist without being performed by technologies that proliferate within the space of human needs and capitalist imperatives. Underneath this performative vision resides a hidden anaturalism denying all otherness to nature and the Earth, no longer by externalizing it as a thing to be dominated, but by radically internalizing it as something to be digested. Constructivist ecology thus finds itself in no position to confront the geoconstructivist project, with its claim that there is no nature and its aim to replace Earth with Earth 2.0.

Against both positions, Neyrat stakes out the importance of the unconstructable Earth. Against the fusional myth of technology over nature, but without returning to the division between nature and culture, he proposes an “ecology of separation” that acknowledges the wild, subtractive capacity of nature. Against the capitalist, technocratic delusion of earth as a constructible object, but equally against an organicism marked by unacknowledged traces of racism and sexism, Neyrat shows what it means to appreciate Earth as an unsubstitutable becoming: a traject that cannot be replicated in a laboratory. Underway for billions of years, withdrawing into the most distant past and the most inaccessible future, Earth escapes the hubris of all who would remake and master it.

This remarkable book, which will be of interest to those across the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, from theorists to shapers of policy, recasts the earth as a singular trajectory that invites humans to turn political ecology into a geopolitics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823282579
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Series: Meaning Systems
Edition description: Translatio
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Frédéric Neyrat (Author)
Frederic Neyrat is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is editor of Alienocene , an online journal that charts the environmental humanities and contemporary theory. His first book in English (following thirteen in French) is Atopias: Manifesto for a Radical Existentialism (Fordham, 2018).

Drew S. Burk (Translator)
Drew S. Burk is the translator of more than dozen books in continental philosophy and theory.

Table of Contents

Introduction : Reconstructing the Earth? 1

Part I. The Mirror of the Anthropocene: Geoengineering, Terraforming, and Earth Stewardship

The Copenhagen Chiasm 25

1. The Screen of Geoengineering 27

2. The Mirror of the Anthropocene 34

3. Terraforming: Reconstructing the Earth, Recreating Life 45

4. The Logic of Geopower: Power, Management, and Earth Stewardship 56

Part II. The Future of Eco-constructivism: From Resilience to Accelerationism

Turbulence, Resilience, Distance 71

5. An Ecology of Resilience: The Political Economy of Turbulence 73

6. The Extraplanetary Environment of the Ecomodernists 83

7. The “Political Ecology” of Bruno Latour: No Environments, No Limits, No Monsters (Not Even Fear) 90

8. Anaturalism and Its Ghosts 105

9. The Technological Fervor of Eco-constructivism 118

Part III. An Ecology of Separation: Natured, Naturing, Denaturing

Object, Subject, Traject 133

10. Naturing Nature and Natured Nature 135

11. The Real Nature of an Ecology of Separation 146

12. Denaturing Nature 155

13. The Unconstructable Earth 165

Conclusion : What Is to Be Unmade? 179

Notes 189

Index 225

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