As we are all by now aware, we live in a time of anthropogenic climate change, rising sea levels, acidified oceans, catastrophic weather events, and an ever increasing poverty of life on Earth. Anthropogenic planetary change is the most pressing social and political concern of our time, with scientists describing a sixth Great Extinction that may well include our own species. Although by all appearances most humans—including most social justice scholars—are continuing with business as usual, we are also hurtling towards extinction and taking much planetary life with us, and this puts all of our political causes into question. We are not living at “the end of the world,” despite the popularity of this phrase in Social Science and Humanities literature on the Anthropocene; we are, however, living at the end of our world. This issue of Societies will provide a forum for discussions of what social justice theory and activism should look like in this end time.
Contributors to this issue are invited to explore questions such as: How do we engage in political struggles today, when our species may no longer have a long-term future? What do social justice perspectives contribute to an analysis of the causes and appropriate responses to what is being called the Anthropocene? How have the appropriation and exploitation of natural resources that have driven anthropogenic transformation of the planet been embedded in patriarchal, colonial and speciesist power? What becomes of many feminist and other social justice causes in the shadow of climate change, or when we think in terms of geopolitics and geohistorical time? Has the pressing social justice issue of our time become ensuring that adaptation, survival, and extinction occur as justly and painlessly as possible, and how may we pursue these objectives? Should survival be our political goal, or should the value of our species’ survival be put into question—and what other political goals might supercede that of human survival? Can there be any kind of justice for the countless nonhuman species that settler colonial humans and humans in the over-developed world are driving to extinction? Can we theorize social justice beyond the human? How do we continue to attend to immediate injustices in our communities, even while thinking in terms of geological time and planetary-scale catastrophes? How do we imagine Anthropocene ethics, Anthropocene politics, and Anthropocene feminism? How should we live and die in the Anthropocene?
Dr. Chloë Taylor
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