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Call for Papers: Resilience and the Anthropocene

Resilience and the Anthropocene: the political ecologies of complexity 


The Anthropocene signals a new geological epoch in which humans have become a geophysical force. The possibility that human activity now produces the environments on which it depends destabilizes the image of a stable Earth that has grounded Western philosophy and politics for two millennia. Critical scholars assert that Anthropocene thinking can provoke new understandings of spatiality, temporality, ethics, responsibility and politics. As Simon Dalby (2013) suggests, a new kind of politics becomes possible when we begin to consider that the stakes include (de)forming the world we inhabit. However, Brad Evans and Julian Reid (2014) argue that the Anthropocene just as easily presents a dangerous, vengeful Earth teetering on the brink of systemic collapse – a catastrophic discourse that creates fearful subjects who desire resilience in order to survive a calamitous future. The Anthropocene’s world-deforming vision leads into a reactionary bio-politics of resilience that fashions adaptive neoliberal subjects capable of surviving whatever surprises complexity has in store.

Thus two concepts have been central to the shifting dynamics of power and agency under the political ecology of complexity: the Anthropocene and resilience. And yet, resilience techniques do not produce uniform effects. The deployment of resilience always occurs within particular socio-ecological contexts striated by multiple conflicts and tensions. Resilience intervenes in, and is inflected by, these contextually-specific relations. Ben Anderson’s (2015: 62) call to recognize that “‘resilience’ names a fractured, multiple, empirical field rather than a series of generic characteristics” means that not only will resilience be something different in different times and places, it will also produce uneven and potentially unintended effects as well. Thus, there is no guarantee that resilience interventions will necessarily reinforce neoliberal order; they could just as well catalyze new ways of harnessing complex life’s potentiality. The bio-politics of resilience may attempt to constrain and regulate adaptability, but these constraints are plastic, malleable, and can thus be broken, cast aside or even re-molded into weapons.

This special issue of ResiliencePolicies, Practices and Discourses will explore the indeterminate political ecologies opened by the Anthropocene and resilience. It takes seriously the call from Dalby, Evans and Reid, Anderson and others to think through the different ways politics might be thought, practiced, and analyzed through the malleable worlds of the Anthropocene and the complex life of resilience thinking. We invite abstracts from across the disciplines that offer empirically driven, theoretically informed papers that engage with the Anthropocene and resilience to explore the shifting forms of geo-politics and bio-politics that reinforce and challenge neoliberal political ecologies. Abstracts may touch on these themes in any number of fields, including but not limited to climate change adaptation, disaster management and development, international relations, environmental security, or urban development and security.



Anderson B (2015) What kind of thing is resilience? Politics 35(1): 60-66.

Dalby S (2013) Biopolitics and climate security in the Anthropocene. Geoforum 49: 184-192.

Evans B and Reid J (2014) Resilient Life: The Art of Living Dangerously. Cambridge: Polity Press.


Submission Instructions 

Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted to Kevin Grove (Aberystwyth University/Florida International University, and David Chandler (University of Westminster, by 12 October 2015. Deadline for invited full submissions will be 1 March 2016.