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Home and Away

The Politics of Life after Earth

Micha Rahder

This article examines the reinvigoration of outer space imaginaries in the era of global environmental change, and the impacts of these imaginaries on Earth. Privatized space research mobilizes fears of ecological, political, or economic catastrophe to garner support for new utopian futures, or the search for Earth 2.0. These imaginaries reflect dominant global discourses about environmental and social issues, and enable the flow of earthly resources toward an extraterrestrial frontier. In contrast, eco-centric visions emerging from Gaia theory or feminist science fiction project post-earthly life in terms that are ecological, engaged in multispecies relations and ethics, and anticapitalist. In these imaginaries, rather than centering humans as would-be destroyers or saviors of Earth, our species becomes merely instrumental in launching life—a multispecies process—off the planet, a new development in deep evolutionary time. This article traces these two imaginaries and how they are reshaping material and political earthly life.

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Ross Bradshaw, Sue Dymoke, Joseph Pridmore and Nadine Brummer

Comrade Heart: a life of Randall Swingler by Andy Croft (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003) ISBN 0 7190 6334 5, £45

Backwork by Ann Drysdale (Cornwall: Peterloo Poets, 2002) ISBN 1-904324-00-2 £7.95

The Planet Iceland by Elsa Corbluth (Cornwall: Peterloo Poets, 2002) ISBN 1-871471-75-3 £7.95

How Copenhagen Ended by C.J. Allen (Leafe Press, 2003) ISBN 0-9537634-8-X £3.50

Learning to Look by Chris Considine (Peterloo Poets, 2003) ISBN 1-904324-05-3 £7.95

Long Shadows: Poems 1938–2002 by J.C. Hall (Shoestring Press, 2003) ISBN 1-899549-76-5 £8.95

Northern Paranoia and Southern Comfort by C.A. de Lomellini (Redbeck Press, 2001) ISBN 0-946980-94-2 £7.95

Madame Fifi’s Farewell and Other Poems by Gerry Cambridge (Luath Press, 2003) ISBN 1-842820-05-2 £7.32

I Could Become That Woman by Sibyl Ruth (Five Leaves, 2003) ISBN 0-907123-54-6 £4.00

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'Another Generation Cometh'

Apocalyptic Endings and New Beginnings in Science Fictional New London(s)

Pat Wheeler

This article looks at the sub-genre of apocalyptic science fiction and explores the ways that a range of contemporary writers engage with natural, climatic disasters and the damage wrought to the planet in the Anthropocene era. The novels under discussion are Maggie Gee's The Flood and The Ice People, Adam Roberts's The Snow, Stephen Baxter's Flood and Stephen Jones's creative compilation Zombie Apocalypse. The novels are analysed as examples of revelatory eschatological and apocalyptic literature that implicitly borrow from canonical religious writings of the past. The article analyses the apocalyptic narratives as predictors of both the end of the world and the coming of a new age. It focuses primarily on the novels' relationship to apocalyptic discontinuity and to end-of-the-world scenarios that are predicated on the forces of nature.

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Reflections on the Rise of Legal Theology

Law and Religion in the Twenty-First Century

John L. Comaroff

Religion has always been intimately connected to law. Conversely, modern secular law, born of the separation of lex naturae from lex dei, has always been deeply theological. However, with transformations in the construction of the nation-state and changes in the sociopolitical scaffolding of the global order, the mutual infusion of law and religion appears to be extending both in scope and in substance—not-withstanding the ever more strident assertion of secularism by some nation-states. Counter-intuitively, the law itself appears to be ever more suffused with the sacral, while, across the planet, the sacral is reconstructing constitutional jurisprudence, administrative law, and much more besides. How do we account for this, for the rise of expansive cultures of theo-legality? Where is it leading? And with what implications?

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The Art of Capture

Hidden Jokes and the Reinvention of Animistic Ontologies in Southwest China

Katherine Swancutt

Anthropology has, among its many accomplishments, become a ‘hyper-reflexive’ discipline that is mastered by anthropologists and their fieldwork friends. Today’s China offers an especially revealing lens onto anthropological reflexivity as it reintroduces animism among ethnic minorities and mobilizes a cosmological-cum-ecological ethos, replete with soul-searching and planet-saving behaviors. This article presents ethnography on the Nuosu of Southwest China, who use the ‘art of capture’ to reinvent local animistic ideas and the Chinese ‘ideology of animism’. In dialogue with a Nuosu ethnologist, rural Nuosu villagers, and a Nuosu anthropologist, I propose that ‘hidden’ knowledge and jokes underpin the expositions of native scholars, who interlace their academic work with local rituals. In this way, Nuosu academics, foreign anthropologists, and villagers all partake in the reinvention of Nuosu animism.

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Brian Barry

As temporary custodians of the planet, those who are alive at any given time can do a better or worse job of handing it on to their successors. I take that simple thought to animate concerns about what we ought to be doing to preserve conditions that will make life worth living (or indeed liveable at all) in the future, and especially in the time after those currently alive will have died (‘future generations’). There are widespread suspicions that we are not doing enough for future generations, but how do we determine what is enough? Putting the question in that way leads us, I suggest, towards a formulation of it in terms of intergenerational justice.

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Consensus for Whom?

Gaming the Market for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna through the Empire of Bureaucracy

Jennifer E. Telesca

This article takes an inside look at ocean governance and asks what is so good about consensus as the dominant mode of decision making in international law. As an accredited observer of the treaty body known as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), I draw upon three years of ethnographic research to document how global elites in closed-door meetings decided the fate of the planet's most valuable fish – bluefin tuna – now depleted. I probe the diplomatic vernacular of a 'game' to unpack how bureaucratic work got done, most poignantly among rich and rogue delegations. At stake was not only money in glamour fish but also status. Implicated, too, is the 'empire of bureaucracy', or the power of a supranational regulatory regime to fix, manage and reproduce inequalities, even if unknowingly, for the postcolonial organization of world affairs.

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Karen Hébert, Joshua Mullenite, Alka Sabharwal, David Kneas, Irena Leisbet Ceridwen Connon, Peter van Dommelen, Cameron Hu, Brittney Hammons and Natasha Zaretsky

TSING, Anna Lowenhaupt. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins

BIGGS, Reinette, Maja SCHÜLLER, and Michael L. SCHOON. Principles for Building Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in Social Ecological Systems

HELM, Dieter. Natural Capital: Valuing the Planet

KIRSCH, Stuart. Mining Capitalism: The Relationship between Corporations and Their Critics

KRÜGER, Fred, Greg BANKOFF, Terry CANNON, Benedikt ORLOWSKI, and E. Lisa F. SCHIPPER, eds. Cultures and Disasters: Understanding Cultural Framings in Disaster Risk Reduction

MCGREGOR, James H. S. Back to the Garden: Nature and the Mediterranean World from Prehistory to the Present

MOORE, Jason. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital

PIPER, Karen. The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos

SCHNEIDER-MAYERSON, Matthew. Peak Oil: Apocalyptic Environmentalism and Libertarian Political Culture

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'An Expensive Death'

Walter Benjamin at Portbou

John Payne

As we returned south in the gloaming to Portbou, the doubts resurfaced. The Right is gathering strength again, not least in France and Spain. The borders may be open within Europe, but they remain largely closed to refugees and asylum-seekers from beyond Europe's borders. These nameless people include the bodies washed up every week on the shores of the Straits of Gibraltar, Africans trying in vain to escape tyranny, war and hatred and - the greatest oppression of all - poverty. What happened at Portbou is important to all of us. We all need to descend that staircase, confront our own mortality, confront the harm we do every day to one another and to our planet. The crimes that are committed by soldiers, police and bureaucrats - in our names.

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Serge Latouche

Economic imperialism and the imperialism of economics which characterise ultramodernity in its current phase, are destroying the planet. This can be observed by looking at everyday life, providing that one does not suffer from the short sightedness of the ultra-liberal “Stalinists” from the Bretton-Woods institutions, who are playing at being sorcerer’s apprentices … Economising has reduced culture to folklore and relegated it to museums. By liquidating different cultures, globalisation gives birth to “tribes”, withdrawal, and ethnicity, rather than co-existence and dialogue. The rise of mimetic violence, with its backdrop of the victimising of the scapegoats, is the corollary to homogeneity and false hybridisation. These phenomena have been amplified by the media and have provoked such repugnance, undoubtedly legitimate, that we have reached the stage of exalting unconditional, selfsatisfied universalism, which is exclusively western in essence, along with the repeated chanting of meaningless slogans.