Decolonising the Anthropocene

Royal Geographical Society
Friday 27 November 2015
Convenors: Olivia Rutazimbwa (University of Portsmouth)Angela Last (Glasgow University), Kathryn Yusoff (Queen Mary)

Speakers and roundtable discussants: Patricia Noxolo (Birmingham), Robbie Shilliam (Queen Mary), Kathryn Yusoff (Queen Mary), Olivia Rutazibwa (Portsmouth), Angela Last (Glasgow).

Click here to register.

The concept of the Anthropocene involves the rejection of one of modernity’s most important tenets: the nature/culture divide. Yet from a post-western perspective this can hardly be seen as a ground-breaking discovery. The colonial experience has for long evidenced the destructive nature of this divide while indigenous cosmologies, religious worldviews as well as other (non-western) philosophies have provided alternatives to the nature/culture divide and continue to do so. Does the holistic and relational understanding of reality entailed in the idea of the Anthropocene present an opportunity to rethink the sources of our knowledge production and work towards a more inclusive and sustainable use and distribution of the available planetary resources; or is the ‘discovery’ of the Anthropocene yet another stage of Eurocentric knowledge production?

Who sets the agenda, which voices and topics continue to be silenced and do they consolidate or dissipate existing inequalities? How much space is there for the ‘pluriversality’ Walter Mignolo calls for in the potentially totalising proclamation of the Anthropocene? What does the attention to complexity and non-linearity mean for post- and decolonial understandings and attachment to issues of agency, autonomy and self-determination? This workshop will examine these and other questions, both theoretically and empirically, to explore the merits and challenges of the Anthropocene to decoloniality and vice versa. Understood as a triple invitation to de-mythologise, de-silence and de-colonise, decoloniality combines both a deconstructive toolbox for critique at the epistemological level and a constructive imperative to counter the colonial (material) forms of extreme power inequality.

This is a free event. Please register so that we can get an idea of numbers. There are currently 25 spaces available.


  1. Demand for places having outstripped the size of the venue, this event has now moved to: University of Westminster // Westminster Forum // 5th floor // 32-38 Wells Street W1T 3UW

  2. Audio recordings of this session are now available:

    Angela Last (Glasgow) Introduction:

    Patricia Noxolo (Birmingham) ‘Concrete Poetry’: Wilson Harris’s ‘The Eye of the Scarecrow, Materiality, Language and Politics in the Caribbean Anthropocene:

    Kathryn Yusoff (Queen Mary) Towards a Black Anthropocene:

    Mark Jackson (Bristol) Provocations:

    Roundtable discussion:

  3. Good work