Bequeathing a World

Ecological Inheritance, Generational Conflict, and Dispossession

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Author:
Kath WestonUniversity of Virginia, USA Kath.Weston@ed.ac.uk

Search for other papers by Kath Weston in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9524-7334

Abstract

In recent debates about climate change, a transmission model of ecological inheritance has apportioned responsibility for ecological damage to generations portrayed as locked in conflict, while depicting Earth as a worldly possession capable of being assigned to a set of heirs. With a focus on North America, this article examines assumptions about ownership, possession, dispositional authority, and succession embedded in the trope of bequeathing an ecologically compromised world to a receiving generation that worries it might be the last. Many of these assumptions create exclusions for those who already apprehend themselves as dispossessed. Indigenous conceptions of responsibility, temporality, and place suggest ways to begin to decolonise the rhetoric of ecological inheritance, allowing humans to inhabit the everyday under signs other than extinction, regardless of how things turn out.

‘What sort of world are we leaving to our children?’1 This is a rhetorical question, though hardly an idle one, that has become commonplace in discussions of ecological damage. Younger voices on the opposite side of a putative generational divide have formulated a series of ready responses: ‘You are passing a ruined planet on to us!’ ‘Why have you not taken better care of the environment?’ ‘You have taken everything for yourselves, without a thought for those who come after you!’ Lending force to such accusations are expectations garbed in the idiom of kinship, an inversion of care in which youth presume to school their elders, and differential notions of responsibility, all playing out against a backdrop of economic precarity with its own stories of generational conflict over jobs, housing, and debt.

And what, representationally speaking, is the point of contention for those who appeal to generational differences in discussions of ecological damage? Put simply, whether today, or in some years’ time, ‘the planet,’ in its entirety, will be transmitted in a condition fit or unfit for future generations to inhabit. In North America and beyond, a notion of ecological inheritance has begun to frame speculative futures, as well as diagnoses of what ails an Earth now conceived on a planetary scale. What assumptions about possession, ownership, and succession make it possible to envisage handing over an ecologically compromised world to an acquiring generation? What sorts of affordances and exclusions does the rhetoric of eco-inheritance underwrite, especially for those already dispossessed?

As I use the term here, ecological inheritance gestures toward social relations of possession, responsibility, and succession that are implicated in the transformation of ecosystems over the course of a lifetime and said to constrain the lives of successor generations. Chris Hann's (2008:146) definition of inheritance provides as good a place as any to begin: ‘the intergenerational devolution of valuables, including many forms of inter vivos transfer…[which] links the sphere of production to that of kinship and marriage’. Earth, once conceptualised as a collectively held landed and seaworthy estate, enters the realms of kinship and exchange, depicted as an object that can be acquired and handed down to heirs by a senior generation charged with the fiduciary and moral duty of passing along this planetary possession in good shape.

To an anthropologist, it is not obvious why anyone would find depictions of bequeathing and inheriting an ecologically altered world compelling, much less a satisfying description of how human relationships with and in ecosystems unfold over time. What do members of older generations, styled as Earth's current possessors, have to say about the matter? What about those who imagine themselves as prospective heirs? There are also those who reject the trope of ecological inheritance as inapplicable to their circumstances. In the United States, many people cite histories of racism, forced labour, and dispossession to argue that a stance of ownership does not well describe their relationship to an allegedly bequeathable world. The world in which they live threatens their futures daily, viscerally, not at the point of some later succession. Neither have they consistently embraced what Jeanette Edwards and Marilyn Strathern (2000:153) described as ‘Euro-American connotations of alienable possessions and inalienable possessiveness’ embedded in the concept of ownership.

In the course of discussing these issues, larger questions related to the possessive side of ecological inheritance will arise. Does it matter that ecological inheritance presents itself rhetorically as the sort of legacy that cannot be renounced? (If the planet is trashed by the time you find a place on it, you cannot forswear your eco-inheritance by allowing it instead to pass on to some other unlucky soul.) What links the generational rhetoric that currently inflects class tensions to the generational gambits in disputes over responsibility for the state of ecosystems? Given the abyss of alienation that opens between human possessors and a world possessed, what relevance, if any, does a transmission model of eco-inheritance have for communities that, after centuries of exploitation, possess little to bequeath?

This article is designed as a think-piece rather than some thickly textured ethnography nurtured through participant observation. But even a think-piece needs to start somewhere, in which case an ethnographic sensibility can be of use. Each section of the article opens with reflections on an object surfaced through stories from the United States. When you encounter those objects, you are advised to take The Plastic Bag, The Bumper Sticker, and The Totem Pole as illustrative evidence, rather than expecting them to bear the weight of an entire argument.

Perpetuity Under Threat: Ecological Inheritance and Generational Succession (The Plastic Bag)

Early in the twenty-first century, Dennis Byrne, the Chicago-based proprietor of the blog The Barbershop, posted a fragment of an unattributed story. Readers, he thought, could relate to this scene of generational conflict in which the material composition of a customer's shopping bag becomes emblematic of care or disregard for an abstraction called ‘the environment’:

The young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, ‘We didn't have this “green thing” back in my earlier days.’ The young clerk responded, ‘That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.’ (Byrne 2013)

When I first came across this post, the once-eleven-year-old in me who led a sit-in at our school cafeteria outside Chicago on the very first Earth Day in 1970 reacted with disbelief. Didn't ‘our generation’ risk suspension from school and our parents’ wrath by holding our ground until the principal relented and we marched out to collect trash that littered the roadway? Might not the petitions we circulated by hand to neighbours old enough to vote have had something to do with legislation such as the Clean Air Act, which had the demonstrable effect of freeing our teachers from the need to wipe grime from their windshields before they motored home at the end of the day? Weren't those same teachers the ones who assured us that we would be the ones to make a difference when it came to tackling newly denominated problems such as ‘pollution’? And, in that era of ‘don't trust anyone over 30’, were we not inclined to look at the generations that preceded us as the ones who had passed along the poisoned gift of a damaged environment?

Ours were small gestures, to be sure, proportionate with our still-growing bodies. Looking at the dismal record of greenhouse gas production, extinction, and ecological exploitation since, those efforts hardly seem to have done the trick. Yet it is worth recalling the multiracial environmental activism of the 1960s and 1970s for its part in laying the groundwork for later environmental justice campaigns, as well as what that history says about the power of the trope of generational conflict to mould perception in the face of evidence to the contrary (Gioielli 2014). It is not simply that sweeping conclusions about generational contrasts between millennials and baby boomers in places like North America can be empirically refuted, using counterexamples from social movements, especially insofar as such contrasts appeal to fuzzy notions of ecological awareness. Those earlier movements are a reminder that the transmission model of ecological inheritance, in which one generation passes a legacy of environmental damage or care to the next, has a deeper history.

Transmission is not, of course, some neutral description of how things move between people who are rapidly ageing out of their bodies and people still experiencing growth spurts in which cells with lovely long telomeres at the end of their chromosomes multiply rapidly in the night. Transmission describes a specific, sociohistorically located modality of contemplating and executing transfers, a modality that would not necessarily have made sense to people elsewhere and elsewhen. In twenty-first-century North America, I may ‘leave’ you my collection of books in the hope that you will treasure them as I do and never have to burn them for warmth or safety should the power grid fail or political conditions change. As this way of conceptualising transfers across time extends to abstractions, I may also bequeath habits, assumptions, or ecosystems to you, and even, having failed to transmit my intentions regarding the disposition of the more material possessions, ‘leave’ my presumptive heirs a mess.

Recent versions of the transmission model of inheritance have a whiff of container shipping about them. Elders pack up their worldly effects and send them off, not to themselves in some future incarnation but to those more lately born and even those yet to emerge, who will be better positioned than corpses to do something meaningful with the lot. What a bourgeois scenario, with its emphasis on planning and orderly succession! Its conceit renders a world alienable and amenable to parsing, through a colonising movement that goes where it wishes and distributes things as it wills, so long as it follows time's arrow. Not all people who have drawn breath have apprehended possession, temporality, forests, or even the movements of books this way.

The transmission model of eco-inheritance enlists the rhetoric of descent that Danilyn Rutherford (2015) explores so beautifully in her essay, ‘Kinship and catastrophe,’ but also something more. Taken by itself, a rhetoric of descent can prepare the ground for economists to ‘green’ their models by extending people's ‘interests’ beyond their own lifetimes into the rapidly warming future their descendants will inhabit. Or for Roman Krznarik (2020) to write a book like The Good Ancestor, which urges humans to become ‘time rebels’ who gauge the wisdom of today's actions by considering how people in future millennia will regard what we have done. This linear temporality is only one of many possible ways of staging time (see Weston, 2022). Descent can also encode cyclical temporalities of the sort explored by Meyer Fortes (1970) long ago, as children grow up to become parents in their own right. Or the rather different sort advanced by Indigenous scholars such as Kyle Whyte (2018) and Melanie Yazzie (2018), in which resistance to the violence directed by settler colonialism against ‘collective continuance’ requires bringing along much more than oneself and linearly calculated descendants.

Transmission adds this to descent: something is there, or imagined to be there, to be passed along. Or once was there, and now no more. Enter a slew of presumptions about ownership, possession, and disposition, all awaiting ethnographic inspection. Older forms of the rhetoric of descent tended to elide distinctions between persons in different generations by absorbing their differences into a notionally continuous ‘line’ of succession. Not so for ecological inheritance: as one anonymous reviewer of this article eloquently put it, ‘The “children” here aren't extensions of their “parents”—they're their parents’ victims’. By suturing possession to descent with accusations of failed responsibility, the rhetoric of ecological inheritance underscores distinctions between children and parents instead of diminishing them.

The result—an imaginatively transferable eco-estate, comprised of heritable species and ‘ecological debt’ passed from generation to generation—turns out to be much more sensuously evocative than the kinship terms on the wrapper. What is it again that our parents are leaving us? You can almost smell the polyethylene in the discarded plastic bag, the frisson of endosulfan rising from furrows lately turned over, and the stinking drain. The Red Wolf sets up an ache in its absence.

In a chapter titled ‘The merry bells: Intergenerational transmission and its conflicts,’ Jack Goody (1962) set out to account for generational conflict at a time when the transmission model was still widely accepted as an analytic tool. For Goody, transmission did not describe a chain of amicable handoffs of sociocultural materiel stretching out across the ages. His attention was drawn to the fractious encounters that often ensue when a senior generation delivers what he called ‘social heritage’ and ‘cultural equipment,’ in the form of ‘roles’ and ‘rights,’ into a future and a fresh set of hands. Conflicts attendant on intergenerational transmission in the LoDagaa communities he studied were predictable, he contended, precisely because they were structurally generated. The eligibility of multiple possible heirs, mediated by categories of social persons, ensured that even the most explicit ‘rules’ of inheritance and succession could not guarantee a smooth transition. The more clearly specified the rules and the heirs, in fact, the greater the potential for discord, due to ‘the problem of anticipatory inheritance,’ as members of the younger generation tried to position themselves advantageously before anything irretrievably passed along (Goody 1962: 283). Our apocryphal supermarket cashier might well relate, as she sets about shaming her elderly customers into abandoning plastic bags for the betterment of an ‘environment’ whose care, in her eyes, has not yet fully passed to her own generation.

Underlying the transmission model, for Goody, was a preservationist logic. Be it sociocultural legacies or worldly effects, the older generation had every incentive to conserve what they themselves had inherited, along with an investment in perpetuity itself. Goody distinguished between two kinds of transfer. The first, immaterial transfers such as those involved in language learning, could take place quickly at no expense to the ones doing the bequeathing. They might even benefit, as the community of speakers with whom they could converse expanded. Transfers of the second type, which involved material goods, gave the older generation more incentive to defer transmission by retaining the assets for as long as possible, since the transfer of exclusive rights to goods like property diminished the senior generation's holdings to the degree that they augmented those of the heirs. Death was the spoiler who foreclosed any possibility of a return of the gift and, in so doing, moved intergenerational transmission outside the boundaries of exchange (Goody 1962: 274–275).

My purpose in unearthing this unfashionable bit of Goody's corpus is not to suggest that his description of contested yet ultimately fixed transfers from one generation to another suffices as an analytic account of how things unfold, for people in the LoDagaa communities he studied or elsewhere. It is rather to call attention to the transmission model as a model and to suggest that this model is alive and well, if no longer in most parts of anthropological theory, then in more than one contemporary field site. As such, it deserves attention, no matter what flaws appear in the notion that culture can be neatly reallocated to successor generations in package-like bits or the equally problematic notion that a European-inspired concept of rights can adequately describe transfers of possessions.

Goody's conclusions are premised on what he calls ‘stability in the external situation’, the kind of stability that any grade schooler can see climate change has thrown under the bus (Goody 1962: 273). This matters for those who use a transmission model to rally people to environmental causes or to account for ecological damage and responsibility, since, as we shall see, their sense of grievance is shaped by a conviction that the actions of previous generations have threatened the very conditions that make perpetual transmission possible. Bad enough if a third (or fourth, or fifth) generation nibbles away at its eco-inheritance. But what are heirs apparent to make of the disruption of the entire chain of transmission, and that by the senior generation, the very ones charged with ensuring that things carry on?

Follow the plastic bag as the wind catches it when our haplessly ageing consumer emerges from the supermarket, and it turns out there is more at stake in this story than some overdrawn contrast between generations that cannot hold. (Generations being, in any case, ambiguously bounded.2) The larger ecological implications are these: Climate change poses a limit case for perpetual succession, a concept deeply rooted in Anglophone political and legal history as well as anthropological theory (see Maine 1986). The cyclical temporality of transfers to the next generation now peers into an end time, when ecological riches are no longer there to be transferred to successor generations who, in any case, might not be around to receive them. This scenario, played out in the shadow of extinction, turns Goody's preservationist logic on its head, in the sense that one can say, yes, there is a system in place for passing things along, but rather than being a system that ‘wards off the threat of the following generation’, it is a system that chips away at an ecological legacy by design. (Go ahead, call it lightly regulated capitalism.) The result? Preceding generations, not successor generations, pose the greatest threat to ecological legacies. In this grotesque inversion of the proper play of generations, the parents and grandparents are the ones assigned responsibility for the ravaging, not only of ecosystems but also of the cycle of ecological inheritance itself. Staring down extinction, humans face the prospect of losing the capacity to make and convey claims, with respect to property, possessions, or anything else. A narrative, then, with the power to persuade, especially in places like the United States, already steeped in apocalyptic imagery (see Heise 2016).

So many things could be added to this account of ecological transmission by way of unsettling its premises: environmental justice movements that call attention to the unequal distribution of ecological harms within as well as across generations. Gay Hawkins’ (2010) reappraisal of the plastic bag as technological artefact and aesthetic object. Stacy Alaimo's (2016) characterisation of contemporary bodies as plastic-transfused flesh. Critiques of the living/non-living divide that might yet reserve a place for succession, provided humans relinquish their claim to be the designated heirs. But let's stick with the story for a moment, long enough to examine its other leading character, Planet Earth, in a little more detail.

Bequeathing a Planet: The Power to Imagine, Dispose, Possess

There are certain prerequisites for bequeathing a world, this world, in the way that ecological inheritance conceives it. Cashiers and customers can exchange as many barbed comments as they like, invoking generational differences all the while, but something else is required to picture the transmission of Earth, complete with ‘environment’, as a high-stakes game of pass-the-parcel. That something is a planetary consciousness, through which a singularly constituted world—the world—becomes equated it with a planet, the planet, meaning Earth.

More than some accretion of dust and gases, a planet is a product of sociotechnical relations and cultural imagination. What makes Earth possible to think? A slew of eighteenth-century scientific ‘discoveries’ (Pratt 2007). The installation of globes in classrooms that fostered a colonising stance (Ramaswamy 2017). The impact of space photography on techno-utopias that began to take the ‘big blue marble’ as their object (Turner 2006). The spectre of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War, which Masco (2014) treats as a precursor to climate change discourse. It is also this sort of planetary consciousness that allowed the astronomers Lisa Messeri (2016) studied to engage in place-making on ‘Earth-like’ planets they could never visit.

Visually tethered histories of a planetary imagination implicitly invoke notions of scale, ascending from the ground on which ants crawl to embrace streets, cities, countries, regions, ever upward, until the Earth-orbiting camera pulls back for the big holistic reveal: that rotating ‘rock’ rebranded as ‘home’ for humans. In order to grapple with the climate emergency, William Connolly (2017: 4) has argued for a less ocular approach. By recasting the planetary as ‘a series of temporal force fields’, he emphasises that labile drought zones and glacier flows may overtake Earth's inhabitants suddenly, not gradually, in ways that ‘save the planet’ initiatives seem ill-equipped to address.

Regardless of whether you contemplate Earth magisterially from above or retheorise the planetary as a temporal assemblage that decentres the human, it requires a socioculturally particular stretch of imagination to fancy oneself empowered to leave a planet to a set of heirs. Before Earth can circulate as damaged goods and climate change can threaten to disrupt an intergenerational chain of transmission, what else is necessary? At a minimum, a habit of apprehending Planet Earth through the idiom of possession, accompanied by a conviction that the planet belongs to humans to bequeath. Marilyn Strathern (1998: 228), building on John Robertson's work, calls the latter faculty ‘dispositional authority.’

A well-known example from the history of settler colonialism in North America illustrates the hazards of conflating dispositional authority with ownership. In 1810 Tecumseh, organiser of the Shawnee Confederacy that militantly resisted colonisation, tried to explain to Governor William Henry Harrison why land ‘sales’ by village heads five years earlier were invalid. Tecumseh well knew that the colonisers were manoeuvring in a property-based system but countered that there are some things which simply cannot be commodified, alienated, and sold on: ‘No tribe has the right to sell, even to each other, much less to strangers….Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?… We wish to save that piece of land… it is small enough for our own purpose’ (Tecumseh and Harrison 1810). Even though land could not be purchased, it could be reallocated, but only by those with the proper dispositional authority, which in this case did not include the ones who had signed the treaty papers.3

Ownership and dispositional authority, then, are related yet quite distinct.4 Ownership often carries with it dispositional authority, allowing me to dispose of my tattered copy of Proudhon's What Is Property? as I see fit. But this is not always the case, as will soon become clear in the discussion of entailment. Dispositional authority, for its part, need not rest upon property claims. Those with dispositional authority may legitimately transfer and redirect things which may or may not be alienable, may or may not be saleable, may or may not be owned, from cloth wealth in Oceania that carries something of the mana of its creators, to intangible objects like songs that listeners may not have the right to pass on (see Weiner 1992). Redirection can also be restricted, as when women's cloth wealth travels within a lineage or when an organ donor designates a recipient.

And why would all this matter for anyone who gives two, three, or four figs about climate change? Because it is not enough to point to private property regimes and rampant commodification, as many critiques of ecological damage do, while leaving presumptions about dispositional authority unexamined. This brings us back to possession as a broader category than ownership, and with it, the variegated ways in which possession and disposition are socioculturally construed.

Once possession of a planet becomes imaginable, all living generations would seem to share possession, struggling together for breath as they are in the vast majority of global cities whose air now qualifies as unhealthy. They can assemble to gather groceries into durable bags or trade harsh words in a shop only if they are coevally present on Earth. Yet there is also a sense in which a younger person who subscribes to the transmission model of ecological inheritance and positions herself to inherit the planet someday experiences herself as not yet in possession, or at least not fully vested, even as she undertakes what she understands to be ecologically responsible actions. Dispositional authority appears to lie with older generations, styled as the planet's current owners and/or possessors.

And there is the rub (or one of them, anyway): this long history of framing inheritance in terms of disposal (think disposable assets), resonating as that term now does with the quandary of what to do with all the perpetually discarded products rendered superfluous by capitalist production. In stories of generational conflict over the condition of a planet about to be bequeathed to a successor generation, an older generation disposes of its problems along with the trash, disposes of its problems along with a planet itself refigured as an ecologically diminishing asset, by visiting the worst consequences of the damage onto a future that they will not be around to suffer, much less to ameliorate.

Even a long-discarded tyre in a landfill may become morally implicated in discussions of ecological inheritance, to the extent that it remains my tyre or our tyre, slowly leaching synthetic chemicals, whether valorously recycled or dumped without fanfare in a lake. Can something of one's person travel with the object, not from the side of production (as with Maori hau) but from the side of consumption, so that the afterlife of the object in a moral sense becomes your afterlife as well? Fifteen years gone to ash or gone to glory and still polluting! Cue the cashier's voice: How can you think nothing of it?

All that mediates the relationship between person and consumables disappears: the manufacturer, the advertiser, planned obsolescence and fast fashion, the naive belief that the deepest ecological damage can be addressed at the point of consumption. Appeals to a planetary imagination offer an alternate way to stabilise possession, long after a discarded object passes into the ‘finders keepers’ domain. Whether objects simply change hands or transmogrify in an incinerator or a landfill, in the transmission model the ecological impact of their disposition belongs to a planetary estate that the senior-most generation has yet to relinquish.

Unlike tyres, land parcels, and licences, planets are not particularly well suited to transmission. Although it has become easy to imagine the planet as a kind of parcel delivered forward into a future, hopefully intact, it would seem impossible for an Earth shared by all its inhabitants to become subject to directed reassignment to a specific set of heirs, contingent upon the wishes of an owner, much less subject to the kind of legal entailment that prevents the current possessor from squandering an estate. Wouldn't it?

‘Spending Our Children's Inheritance’: Property Processes Revisited (The Bumper Sticker)

At some point in the 1980s, a bumper sticker appeared on the highways of North America, often affixed to a caravan. Its slogan—‘Spending Our Children's Inheritance’—was meant to be humorous. Vehicles that approached from the rear could pull up alongside for a glimpse of parents behaving badly. The phrase highlighted a cultural transgression: elders grabbing for themselves what they should have carefully shepherded in order to bequeath. Parents had taken to the road like naughty children, mischievously proclaiming themselves usurpers, when if anything it should have been the other way around. An unseemly indulgence, perhaps: my grandmother, who struggled through the Great Depression and saved every penny for her daughter, wouldn't have found the sentiment funny at all.

That bumper sticker, at that time, marked a generational inversion, but it also gestured toward something else: a sense that middle-class fortunes had begun to diminish. Middle-class households still controlled a bit of a surplus, enough to invest in a trailer, perhaps, but no longer enough upon the elders’ death to keep the next generation in the style to which their parents had become accustomed. This was early days for what would eventually be called neoliberal economic reforms—David Harvey's (2005) ‘accumulation by dispossession’—with little sense yet of a near future in which caravans would serve as the only home many heretofore middle-class households could afford. Yet there was something in the air, an unspoken question, perhaps: What is the point of inheritance, when there is so little left to squander?

Take the bumper sticker at its word, and you may gain insight into the tone of grievance, as well as urgency, on the part of young people who have assumed a leadership position in the climate strikes being staged around the world. You also have a basis for the bone of contention in Juliana v. U.S. (the ‘Our Children's Trust’ lawsuit), a key piece of climate litigation that has served as a model for many others: Did senior generations, through their activities and their neglect, in effect spend the ecological inheritance that should have gone to their children?

Juliana v. U.S. charged the US Government on behalf of the nation's youth with violating the youngest generation's right to life, liberty, and property under the First Amendment of the US Constitution by failing to take appropriate actions to address climate change. Originally filed in US District Court in 2015 in Oregon, the lawsuit's named defendants included: Barack Obama, in his then capacity as president of the United States; secretaries of cabinet departments; and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Most of the individual plaintiffs in the suit, not being of legal age at the time it was filed, had to have legal guardians named in their stead. The list culminated with ‘Future Generations’, represented by their own guardian, James Hansen, a former NASA scientist who went on to head the Climate Science, Awareness, and Solutions programme at Columbia University.

By holding senior generations responsible for transmitting rights in life and property to their successors, Juliana's framing and argumentation relied heavily on the rhetoric of descent and idioms of generational conflict. A raft of similar suits have been filed on behalf of ‘youth plaintiffs’ in venues around the world. To the extent that these suits incorporate references to property and ownership, it may be useful to think of them as participating in what Katherine Verdery called property processes. Verdery developed the concept in the context of her studies of post-socialist European economies, in order to better understand the transition from collectively held assets to the exclusive claims embedded in private ownership (Verdery 1998, 2003). The transition was not straightforward. Verdery found ‘individual and collective claims jostling and interfering with one another’ in Transylvania, where ‘striving to clarify one's ownership rights is sometimes a weapon of the relatively weaker trying to protect themselves from abuse by the stronger’ (Verdery 2003: 178–179). Sometimes, but not always. Villagers who lacked resources tended to find ‘a system of overlapping claims and rights’ more satisfying than exclusive property rights, because individual property rights in the absence of access to the means of production (tools, seeds, credit) gave them no way to work the land.

In the era of climate change, collectivisation once again occupies centre stage. This time it is not the individual property right, but the dependence of the individual property right on collectively held goods such as climate, that cases like Juliana seek to adjudicate. These suits are being brought before courts in legal systems where property rights are already well-established. Yet it is important to remember how relatively recent the enclosure and far-reaching privatisation of land has been even there: the eighteenth century for Britain, later still elsewhere (Polanyi 2001). This shallow temporal horizon might make it seem easier to rework property processes to respond to capitalism's legacy of ecological damage. But if, as Brenna Bhandar (2018) has argued, land registration and property law emerged first in European colonies as part of the process of appropriating land by subterfuge and by force, then much remains to be considered about the tenaciously racialised and colonial stance that frames property claims more generally.

Litigators in venues such as the United Kingdom that have historically recognised entailment might have phrased things differently by asking whether senior generations have the ecological equivalent of a fiduciary duty to pass along the Earth as an entailed estate to their successors. ‘To entail land was to grant limited interests to a number of persons in succession—persons who were often not yet born and would not be for several generations—so that no one possessor was absolute owner, nor could anyone alter the future as it was mapped out by the donor's will’ (Macpherson 2003: 6). As a legal device, the entail (‘tailzies’ in Scotland) protected estates from creditors by prohibiting the current owner-possessor from contracting debts against the estate. ‘Irritant clauses’ rendered claims against an entailed estate null, should the owner fail in this duty to heirs by falling into debt anyway (Wightman 2015).

The financialised notion of an ‘ecological debt’ unjustly passed between generations draws on this history of the entail. Likewise for the European Green Party motto, ‘We have only borrowed the world from our children’. In the era of climate change, such statements acquire an added poignancy because the entire system of property transmission appears to be at stake. Reconceiving Earth as an entailed estate inverts the terms of dispositional authority but leaves the idiom of intergenerational indebtedness and transfers intact.

The generational framing of youth climate suits also tends to obscure inequities within generations. Issues of access and disenfranchisement complicate people's relationship to possession and inheritance. This was as true for the Romanian villagers Verdery studied as it was in early modern Britain, where entails secured property rights for a line of succession defined by primogeniture, which excluded daughters and younger sons in landed families as surely as families that had been cleared off land they used to work in order to make way for sheep and agricultural ‘improvements’ (Polanyi 2001; Wightman 2015).

Not surprisingly, then, a transmission model of ecological inheritance often makes better sense to those who can envisage themselves as due to inherit. A transmission model of ecological inheritance makes better sense to those who believe they can separate themselves from planets, beetles, and ecosystems in order to possess them, even if it is only to bequeath them in good order. The final section explores some of the implications of these differences for the property claims embedded in climate litigation and eco-rhetoric.

Although inheritance often appears desirable, this is not always the case, especially when heirs stand to inherit debt. Some legal systems allow successors to refuse an inheritance, while others do not. After Roberta Tonelli's farm stay hotel in Tuscany, Italy, ran into financial difficulties, her relatives pooled their life savings toward paying back an €800,000 loan, to no avail. ‘When I die,’ Tonelli explained, ‘my daughters will go to the judge and renounce my inheritance, otherwise the debt will be passed on to them…. They shouldn't even go to the funeral parlour first. Even my 15-year-old knows this’ (Politi and Ghiglione 2016: 3). But a similar course of action is not available in the case of ecological inheritance. The legacy dubbed ‘climate change’, by virtue of its planetary extent, represents precisely the sort of inheritance that cannot be refused.

For young people already saddled with student loans and uncertain employment prospects, the rhetoric of descent associated with ecological inheritance underscores a sense of ‘generational unfairness’ of the sort that one UK think tank proposed to tackle with a ‘citizen's inheritance’ in the form of a £10,000 gift to all twenty-five-year-olds, funded by wealth and property taxes on their elders (Beioley 2018). But such modest investments can do little to address ecological problems on the order of climate change, which demand a less individuated response. When class-action climate lawsuits depict North American teenagers as forced to shoulder what some call ‘the children's burden’ of making the ecologically impossible right, they position younger generations in a kind of ecological debt bondage to their seniors. In this type of eco-rhetoric, successors will come into possession of ‘the planet’ seriously, if not hopelessly, encumbered: theirs may be the sort of inescapable inheritance that people too often die trying to pay back.

And what of those who detect an eerie resonance between the language of ‘the children's burden’ and ‘the white man's burden’, the apologist phrase Rudyard Kipling used to drape the violence of settler colonialism in the garb of care and responsibility? Are there not good reasons to be wary of the rhetoric of descent, of the claims to property and possession, folded into a transmission model of ecological inheritance, even when directed toward worthy ends in court cases that rhetorically pit generation against generation?

Decolonizing Proprietary Eco-Rhetoric (Lummi Totem Pole Journeys)

In many speculative eco-futures, a younger generation can no longer hold individuated rights and responsibilities in rem (‘against the world’), precisely because climate change has called habitation of the world into question. Once human residence on Planet Earth becomes unviable, there can be no meaningful redistribution of possessions through inheritance, no afterlife for generational conflict. (Short of a colonisation venture in outer space, of the sort that has lately entranced a few wealthy investors.) For some, this representational shift marks a resurgence of the commons, though not in the form of the village greens and wildlife corridors that environmental campaigners had hoped to see. Instead, the transmission model of ecological inheritance positions human beings as joint holders in a Climate Commons called Planet Earth. In the transmission model, successor generations hold in common the ‘ecological debts’ accrued by previous generations, with those debts evenly distributed amongst the young.

Anyone who has followed the rise of environmental justice movements over the past few decades would find this depiction of a Climate Commons suspect. Activists based in communities of colour have demonstrated, time and again, how environmental harms are not equitably distributed. Asthma rates skyrocket around bus stations in low-income neighbourhoods. Water scarcity disproportionately affects the lives of women and children when they are the ones charged with securing this most liquid of assets. Why should an ecological debt that devolves upon a younger generation play out any differently, however much that debt has the potential to affect humans qua humans?

In closing, I want to call attention to two nascent critiques of the notion of ecological inheritance that have emerged from communities of colour in the United States. Both zero in on claims about possession that are embedded in the accounts of generational conflict examined here. Both implicitly engage the notion of a Climate Commons in which all humans hold an equal stake. The first strand of critique focuses on exclusion from ecological inheritance, while the second strand rejects the possessive stance that underwrites eco-rhetorics of inheritance altogether.

In an essay titled, ‘What If I'm Not White?’ Glenn Nelson, who identifies as Japanese and Asian American, describes what it is like to spend an entire day hiking the trails in a US national park without encountering another person of colour. He wonders what it would take to reconfigure what Americans call ‘the outdoors’ into something other than ‘a largely white domain’ (Nelson 2016: 15). He worries that the planetary imagination that fuels environmentalist rhetoric can only distance communities of colour from environmental politics. But then he offers a redemption story, in which successor generations puzzle over the destruction their parents and grandparents allowed:

I also imagine, in two or so decades, belonging to a nonwhite majority whose ancestors were hanged from trees, forced to labor in fields, or if not slaughtered outright, forcibly relocated from the best wild lands to the worst. I imagine that nonwhite majority deciding that it doesn't give a frack about fracking, a crap about climate change, or even rubbing two sticks together to spark an environmental revolution. I imagine ‘the planet’ appearing as an alien construct, the white man's conceit, and not ours to save. Then I imagine my children and my children's children—those multiracial, multicultural generations—not understanding why we allowed it all to just burn, baby, burn….I came to understand that the planet where race is such a persistent touchstone is my planet, too. (Nelson 2016: 13)

In the end, Nelson comes down on the side of a planetary commons, embracing it ambivalently for the sake of his successors, as a case of possessive exceptionalism in the context of a long history of racist dispossession.

Others may come to different conclusions. If the point of eco-rhetoric is to mobilise and persuade, then it becomes important to recognise the potential exclusions embedded in calls to ‘reclaim our shared inheritance’ (e.g. Bollier 2014). To treat a planet as something handed down to the next generation is to reference a communal bequest, when what passes for the communal in the United States has too often in practice amounted to the preserve of a relatively wealthy white elite. People who say they don't have a penny to their name, much less expectations of coming into any kind of family money, are not easily hailed by rhetoric that yokes appeals to descent with claims to property. ‘Do you see people around here getting an inheritance?’ a man from a working-class African American neighbourhood asks the researcher, equally rhetorically (Weston 2008). The problem lies with assumptions about possession and ownership, not transmission as such. He would have been the first to insist on the need to pass on advice to the next generation of Black and Brown youth about how to act when stopped by police to try to improve their chances of not getting arrested or shot.

Another critique of the transmission model of ecological inheritance has emerged from histories of dispossession in North America that takes a different tack. As Lenape scholar Joanne Barker emphasises, the dispossession of Indigenous people from their territories ‘is not done—it is a doing’ (Barker 2018: 31). In the midst of that doing, many from Native and First Nations communities find it strange and unsettling to portray cattails and fireflies, much less Earth, as mute possessions, waiting to be conveyed from one human generation to the next. What dispositional authority have humans over the loons or the riparian flow of a river, even in the name of protection? If anyone has dispositional authority over such things, why should it not be red corn, the bison survivors, or the salmon? At the heart of such questions are the ‘living relationships’ cultivated by Indigenous communities that Kyle Whyte (2017: 207) discusses in ‘Our ancestors’ dystopia now’: longstanding relationships of responsibility to particular beings such as wild rice, not generic categories such as ‘plants’ or ‘planets’.

All of which raises a more fundamental question: Is there any bequeathing to be done? If the transmission model of ecological inheritance cannot hold, then it cannot suffice to decentre the human by hammering out legal arguments for holding property rights in trust for the Earth. Such a political strategy effectively repositions the planet as an heir, and that, too, as an heir of less than full competence. What would it take to apprehend flowering chicory along the verge through modalities other than ecological inheritance, property rights, and capital-intensive forms of possession?

‘We are killing off all those cultures that would protect the Earth, reinforcing the cultures that destroy the Earth’, emphasises Jewell Praying Wolf James of the Lummi Nation, ‘and as a consequence, creating a world our children can't live in. Somebody has to stand up and say no, no more’.5 James, who led salmon restoration efforts and the Lummi Treaty Protection Task Force, is a master carver who has worked with the Lummi House of Tears to create a ‘new tradition’ in which specially crafted totem poles set out on journeys across North America to places ecologically threatened. The inaugural sojourn followed coal train rail lines from the Powder River Basin to British Columbia to call attention to the impact of fossil fuels on Pacific Northwest communities and protest the construction of a coal export facility on ancestral Lummi lands.

James’ comments on the Totem Pole Journeys feature recurring elements of eco-rhetoric that can be found in other North American contexts: the invocation of descent, the trope of planetary protection, the urgency of coming together. Yet there is no trace of ecological inheritance, no alienated stance that would reduce Earth to a mute, economically assessed, ecologically indebted, transmittable human possession. The purpose of a Totem Pole Journey was not to recruit a successor generation of ecologically aware youth ready to school their elders; quite the contrary, culturally speaking. As blessing ceremonies ushered the poles across a continent that is no one's to bequeath, they dispelled lingering visions of the Hegelian sort of human who climbs up into a second world, the better to manage or destroy some first world of nature.

Along the way, the emphasis was on spirit and place rather than planet. ‘Place convenes our being together, bringing human and nonhuman communities into the shared predicaments of life, livelihood, and land,’ write Soren Larsen and Jay Johnson (2017: 1) in their account of Indigenous attempts to decolonise relationships with wetlands, treaty grounds, and other contested locations that passers-by might regard as just another piece of acreage awaiting a developer. If approached properly, they imply, lands and seas might also have something to say to the humans.6

Totem Pole Journeys are just one way in which people are attempting to come to terms with the rapidly shifting materiality of their ecological circumstances, while resisting the privatisation and monetisation of a world that is at once theirs and not-theirs. Refugees who have received seeds from the Crisis Response Garden project sometimes say their gardens give them a reason to get up in the morning, after war has laid waste to whatever protections any property left behind could afford. ‘The garden is like my children: I care for my garden every day’, is how a resident of Domiz Camp in Iraq put it (Adam-Bradford et al. 2017). From one of this century's cruellest stories of dispossession, the war in Syria, emerge fragile ties, not to a planet but to a scrap of land, the kind of earth that can fit into a few pots. In the shadow of very different, unequal, interconnected, and painful histories, humans keep trying. Will ecosystems like friends, guests, and cousins also flourish, secured by tendrils of rhetoric that weave them together with something other than property-based human-to-human transmission? A world is waiting to see.

Notes

1

Gratitude to Barbara Bodenhorn, Sophie Day, Yael Navaro, Julienne Obadia, Geeta Patel, David Sabean, Marilyn Strathern, the Duke–UVA Anthropology study group, and three anonymous reviewers for comments on the article and to the British Academy and Downing College at Cambridge for support.

2

See Mannheim (2007). Lamb (2010, 2015) emphasizes the inadequacy of ‘generation’ as an explanatory idiom in light of what practice attests.

3

In a more contemporary example, Wadewitz (2012) discusses the practice of using nets and weirs on the Salish Sea to signal dispositional authority to mark salmon fishery boundaries.

4

Heise (2008) examines perceptions of ‘nature’ as inherited collective property, but without distinguishing inheritance from dispositional authority or ownership from possession.

6

A premise of many Indigenous-led land-based learning projects.

References

  • Adam-Bradford, A., M. Tomkins, C. Perkins and S. Hunt (2017), Transforming Land, Transforming Lives: Greening Innovation and Urban Agriculture in the Context of Forced Displacement, 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Lemon Tree Trust).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alaimo, S. (2016), Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).

  • Barker, J. (2018), ‘Territory as analytic: The dispossession of Lenapehoking and the subprime crisis’, Social Text 135: 1939. https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-4362337.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beioley, K. (2018), ‘Millennial money’, Financial Times, 12 May.

  • Bhandar, B. (2018), Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

  • Bollier, D. (2014), Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society).

  • Byrne, D. (2013), ‘My older generation didn't have that ‘green thing’’, ChicagoNow, 6 June. http://www.chicagonow.com/dennis-byrnes-barbershop/2013/06/my-older-generation-didnt-have-that-green-thing/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connolly, W. E. (2017), Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

  • Edwards, J. and M. Strathern (2000), ‘Including our own’, in J. Carsten (ed), Cultures of Relatedness: New Approaches to the Study of Kinship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 149166.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fortes, M. (1970), Time and Social Structure (London: Routledge).

  • Gioielli, R. R. (2014), Environmental Activism and the Urban Crisis: Baltimore, St. Louis, Chicago (Philadelphia: Temple University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goody, J. (1962), Death, Property, and the Ancestors: A Study of the Mortuary Customs of the LoDagaa of West Africa (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hann, C. (2008), ‘Reproduction and inheritance: Goody revisited’, Annual Review of Anthropology 37: 145158.

  • Harvey, D. (2005), A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press).

  • Hawkins, G. (2010), ‘Plastic materialities’, in B. Braun and S. J. Whatmore (eds), Political Matter: Technoscience, Democracy, and Public Life (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), 119138.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heise, U. K. (2008), Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (New York: Oxford University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heise, U. K. (2016), Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

  • Krznaric, R. (2020), The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking (New York: The Experiment).

  • Lamb, S. (2010), ‘Rethinking the generation gap: Age and agency in middle-class Kolkata’, Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts 4, no. 2: 8397. https://doi.org/10.1080/19325611003767698.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lamb, S. (2015), ‘Generation in anthropology’, in J. D. Wright (ed), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, vol. 9., 2nd ed. (Oxford: Elsevier), 853856.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Larsen, S. C. and J. T. Johnson (2017), Being Together in Place: Indigenous Coexistence in a More Than Human World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Macpherson, S. (2003), ‘Rent to own; or, what's entailed in Pride and Prejudice’, Representations 82, no. 1: 123.

  • Maine, H. S. (1986), Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society, and Its Relation to Modern Ideas (Tucson: University of Arizona Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mannheim, K. (2007), Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge (New York: Routledge).

  • Masco, J. (2014), The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Messeri, L. (2016), Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

  • Nelson, G. (2016), ‘What if I'm not white? A former sportswriter tries to find a place for himself in the outdoors’, High Country News, 27 June.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Polanyi, K. (2001), The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 2nd ed. (Boston: Beacon).

  • Politi, J. and D. Ghiglione (2016), ‘Italy's banks groan under weight of hardship’, Financial Times, 26 July.

  • Pratt, M. L. (2007), Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routledge).

  • Ramaswamy, S. (2017), Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

  • Rutherford, D. (2015), ‘Kinship and catastrophe: Global warming and the rhetoric of descent’, in S. McKinnon and F. Cannell (eds), Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship (Santa Fe, NM: SAR), 261282.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Strathern, M. (1998), ‘Divisions of interest and languages of ownership’, in C. M. Hann (ed), Property Relations: Renewing the Anthropological Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 214232.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tecumseh and W. H. Harrison (1810), ‘Tecumseh to William Henry Harrison, August 20, 1810,’ James Madison Papers, 1723–1859: Series 1, General Correspondence, U.S. Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mjm.12_0579_0586.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, F. (2006), From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verdery, K. (1998), ‘Property and power in Transylvania's decollectivization’, in C. M. Hann (ed), Property Relations: Renewing the Anthropological Tradition (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press), 160180.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verdery, K. (2003), The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist Transylvania (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press).

  • Wadewitz, L. K. (2012), The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries, and Bandits on the Salish Sea (Seattle: University of Washington Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weiner, A. B. (1992), Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving (Berkeley: University of California Press).

  • Weston, K. (2008), Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor (Boston: Beacon Press).

  • Weston, K. (2022), ‘The habit in cohabitation, or, how to meet a tiger on the path’, Humanimalia 13, no. 1.

  • Whyte, K. P. (2017), ‘Our ancestors’ dystopia now: indigenous conservation and the anthropocene’, in U. K. Heise, J. Christensen, and M. Niemann (eds), Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (New York: Routledge), 206215.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whyte, K. P. (2018), ‘Settler colonialism, ecology, and environmental injustice’, Environment & Society 9, no. 1: 125144.

  • Wightman, A. (2015), The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland (And How They Got It) (Edinburgh: Birlinn).

  • Yazzie, M. K. (2018), ‘Decolonizing Diné Bikeyah: Resource extraction, anti-capitalism, and relational futures’, Environment & Society 9, no. 1: 2539.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Contributor Notes

Kath Weston is professor of anthropology at the University of Virginia. Her recent work focuses on visceral engagement and embodiment, integrating material from kinship studies, political ecology, social studies of finance, and science and technology studies. She has received multiple awards, including a British Academy Global Professorship at the University of Edinburgh, a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Science Foundation grants, and two Ruth Benedict Book Prizes. Her books include Animate Planet: Making Visceral Sense of Living in a High-Tech Ecologically Damaged World; Gender in Real Time; Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor; and Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship. Email: Kath.Weston@ed.ac.uk; ORCID ID 0000-0002-9524-7334

  • Collapse
  • Expand
  • Adam-Bradford, A., M. Tomkins, C. Perkins and S. Hunt (2017), Transforming Land, Transforming Lives: Greening Innovation and Urban Agriculture in the Context of Forced Displacement, 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Lemon Tree Trust).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alaimo, S. (2016), Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).

  • Barker, J. (2018), ‘Territory as analytic: The dispossession of Lenapehoking and the subprime crisis’, Social Text 135: 1939. https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-4362337.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beioley, K. (2018), ‘Millennial money’, Financial Times, 12 May.

  • Bhandar, B. (2018), Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

  • Bollier, D. (2014), Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society).

  • Byrne, D. (2013), ‘My older generation didn't have that ‘green thing’’, ChicagoNow, 6 June. http://www.chicagonow.com/dennis-byrnes-barbershop/2013/06/my-older-generation-didnt-have-that-green-thing/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connolly, W. E. (2017), Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

  • Edwards, J. and M. Strathern (2000), ‘Including our own’, in J. Carsten (ed), Cultures of Relatedness: New Approaches to the Study of Kinship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 149166.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fortes, M. (1970), Time and Social Structure (London: Routledge).

  • Gioielli, R. R. (2014), Environmental Activism and the Urban Crisis: Baltimore, St. Louis, Chicago (Philadelphia: Temple University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goody, J. (1962), Death, Property, and the Ancestors: A Study of the Mortuary Customs of the LoDagaa of West Africa (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hann, C. (2008), ‘Reproduction and inheritance: Goody revisited’, Annual Review of Anthropology 37: 145158.

  • Harvey, D. (2005), A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press).

  • Hawkins, G. (2010), ‘Plastic materialities’, in B. Braun and S. J. Whatmore (eds), Political Matter: Technoscience, Democracy, and Public Life (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), 119138.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heise, U. K. (2008), Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (New York: Oxford University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heise, U. K. (2016), Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

  • Krznaric, R. (2020), The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking (New York: The Experiment).

  • Lamb, S. (2010), ‘Rethinking the generation gap: Age and agency in middle-class Kolkata’, Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts 4, no. 2: 8397. https://doi.org/10.1080/19325611003767698.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lamb, S. (2015), ‘Generation in anthropology’, in J. D. Wright (ed), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, vol. 9., 2nd ed. (Oxford: Elsevier), 853856.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Larsen, S. C. and J. T. Johnson (2017), Being Together in Place: Indigenous Coexistence in a More Than Human World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Macpherson, S. (2003), ‘Rent to own; or, what's entailed in Pride and Prejudice’, Representations 82, no. 1: 123.

  • Maine, H. S. (1986), Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society, and Its Relation to Modern Ideas (Tucson: University of Arizona Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mannheim, K. (2007), Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge (New York: Routledge).

  • Masco, J. (2014), The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Messeri, L. (2016), Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

  • Nelson, G. (2016), ‘What if I'm not white? A former sportswriter tries to find a place for himself in the outdoors’, High Country News, 27 June.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Polanyi, K. (2001), The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 2nd ed. (Boston: Beacon).

  • Politi, J. and D. Ghiglione (2016), ‘Italy's banks groan under weight of hardship’, Financial Times, 26 July.

  • Pratt, M. L. (2007), Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routledge).

  • Ramaswamy, S. (2017), Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

  • Rutherford, D. (2015), ‘Kinship and catastrophe: Global warming and the rhetoric of descent’, in S. McKinnon and F. Cannell (eds), Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship (Santa Fe, NM: SAR), 261282.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Strathern, M. (1998), ‘Divisions of interest and languages of ownership’, in C. M. Hann (ed), Property Relations: Renewing the Anthropological Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 214232.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tecumseh and W. H. Harrison (1810), ‘Tecumseh to William Henry Harrison, August 20, 1810,’ James Madison Papers, 1723–1859: Series 1, General Correspondence, U.S. Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mjm.12_0579_0586.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, F. (2006), From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verdery, K. (1998), ‘Property and power in Transylvania's decollectivization’, in C. M. Hann (ed), Property Relations: Renewing the Anthropological Tradition (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press), 160180.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verdery, K. (2003), The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist Transylvania (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press).

  • Wadewitz, L. K. (2012), The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries, and Bandits on the Salish Sea (Seattle: University of Washington Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weiner, A. B. (1992), Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving (Berkeley: University of California Press).

  • Weston, K. (2008), Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor (Boston: Beacon Press).

  • Weston, K. (2022), ‘The habit in cohabitation, or, how to meet a tiger on the path’, Humanimalia 13, no. 1.

  • Whyte, K. P. (2017), ‘Our ancestors’ dystopia now: indigenous conservation and the anthropocene’, in U. K. Heise, J. Christensen, and M. Niemann (eds), Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (New York: Routledge), 206215.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whyte, K. P. (2018), ‘Settler colonialism, ecology, and environmental injustice’, Environment & Society 9, no. 1: 125144.

  • Wightman, A. (2015), The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland (And How They Got It) (Edinburgh: Birlinn).

  • Yazzie, M. K. (2018), ‘Decolonizing Diné Bikeyah: Resource extraction, anti-capitalism, and relational futures’, Environment & Society 9, no. 1: 2539.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 417 417 41
PDF Downloads 423 423 47