Ecotopia rising: an ecocritical analysis of radical environmental activists as ecotopian expressions amid Anthropocene decline

Alberro, H. ORCID: 0000-0003-1031-5746, 2020. Ecotopia rising: an ecocritical analysis of radical environmental activists as ecotopian expressions amid Anthropocene decline. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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The current socio-ecological crisis that marks the Anthropocene era of extensive human impacts on natural systems, exhibited most starkly by the predicted loss of 67% of monitored vertebrate species by 2020 and anthropogenic climatic perturbations, suggests a multifariously distorted human-nature relationship that is in need of radical reconstitution. Radical environmental activists (REA’s) from groups such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and EarthFirst! have arisen in response to the intrusion of socio-ecological breakdown into the ‘Now’ that marks the Anthropocene, fervently mobilising against the status quo of late capitalism and calling for fundamental transformations in the human-animal-nature relationship. This project employs the analytical lens of utopian and critical posthuman theory - which both variedly seek to critique oppressive and exploitative structures and modes of thought and explore more ethical modes of relationality - in order to critically assess the ecological sensibilities, diagnostic framing narratives, and ecotopian potentialities of radical environmental activists. The project draws on data in the form of 26 semi-structured interviews with radical environmental activists from a variety of groups, organizational documents and supplementary excerpts from canonical ecotopian literary texts for a thorough understanding of contemporary empirical manifestations of ecotopianism. An ecocritical-thematic analytical framework is utilized in order to assess the nature of REA ecotopianism, in particular how they as well as ecotopian texts posit and engage with the non-human ‘other’, and how they relate to central utopian concepts such as hope and futurity. REA’s exhibit post-anthropocentric sensibilities that disavow the ontological centrality of the ‘human’ and call for extending bounds of ethical consideration to include all life and even non-living entities, although at times they fail to deconstruct and occasionally reproduce hierarchical and dualistic constructs of human-animal-nature relationality. REA’s largely exhibit a critical and terrestrial modality of ecotopianism that seeks to dismantle growth and profit-oriented capitalist systems and enact more liveable worlds within the ‘here and now’. Their transfigured relations to hope and futurity are in part a reflection of the pervasiveness of loss and ecological disintegration amid the present. Yet, while evincing a deep post-modern aversion to complete closure around desired alternatives, they nevertheless gesture towards more liveable worlds and express a desire for a future-to-come devoid of the widespread loss of cherished Earth kin. The extant widescale severing of cherished kinship bonds to Earth others engenders a critical modality of hope amidst REA’s wherein grief over loss serves as fuel for their continued strivings against Anthropocene decline and towards more abundant worlds.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Alberro, H.
Date: May 2020
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 26 Feb 2021 14:57
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:06

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