‘Within the Anthropocene, Beyond the Capitalocene, Towards the Ecocene’ – Politics of/in the Anthropocene – Design for Entanglements, London Conference in Critical Thought

20180603_185142Book talk at Cliffs, Margate, June 2018. Photo by Dave Elliot.

Within the Anthropocene, Beyond the Capitalocene, Towards the Ecocene

UPCOMING paper at
London Conference in Critical Thought
Politics of/in the Anthropocene 3 – Design for Entanglements

29-30 June 2018
University of Westminster
309 Regent Street
London, W1B 2HW

The global challenges of the Anthropocene demand shifts on an order of magnitude well beyond the trajectory of business-as-usual. Ecomodernists’ fantasies of technological salvation are unhelpful when they sideline work undoing the assumptions that created the conditions of the Anthropocene in the first place. Erroneous ideas are embedded in the cultural fabric: the laws, policies and practices that determine how we live and act upon our surrounding lifeworld. The inevitable contradictions are increasingly dysfunctional. The Capitalocene concept (Moore 2014) more helpfully highlights the specific socio-political dynamics that propel environmental crises. Yet there are limitations to this critical approach. While defining the problem, it is does less well envisioning viable alternatives. Ecological theorists Gregory Bateson and Felix Guattari offer a foundation for approaching these contradictions by thinking simultaneously about three interconnected domains: the self, the social and the ecological. Conjoining these three ecologies, this paper will describe the contours of an emergent ‘Ecocene’ (Boehnert 2018) as a generative alternative. Moving beyond the limitations of reductionist models of the human psyche and knowledge systems, design interventions must nurture relational perception and foster new sensibilities. As subjects opening inward, in participation with our surrounding lifeworlds, intersectional solidarity demands engaged encounters with oppressions that threaten collective futures. The Ecocene is a foundation for the redesign of the system structures that determine what is designed. Participant designers, well versed in ontological entanglements, are well poised to enable these emergent ways of seeing and knowing to make transitions to another world not only possible but desirable.


Bateson G (1972) Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Boehnert J (2018) Design, Ecology, Politics: Towards the Ecocene. London: Bloomsbury.
Guattari F (2000/1989)The Three Ecologies. London: Continuum.
Moore J W (2014) ‘The Capitalocene. Part I: On the Nature & Origins of Our Ecological Crisis’. Accessed online.

Register for the free conference here.

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