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Environmental Values

Democracy and Agonism in the Anthropocene: The Challenges of Knowledge, Time and Boundary

Amanda Machin

Environmental Values 28 (2019): 347-365. doi: 10.3197/096327119X15519764179836

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The diagnosis of a new geological epoch, The 'Anthropocene', has implications far beyond geological science. If human activity has disrupted the planet, then this diagnosis potentially disrupts socio-political conventions. This article assesses the implications the Anthropocene has for democratic politics, by delineating three challenges: challenges of knowledge, time and boundary. In contrast to the claim that democratic institutions are unable to adequately respond to these challenges, I suggest that they might be strengthened through an engagement with them. Following an 'agonistic' understanding of politics, I argue that the contestation instigated by the challenges of the Anthropocene is key to democratic renewal. Just as democracy in the Anthropocene can be enhanced through an agonistic approach, agonistic theory can be enriched through an engagement with the Anthropocene.


Anthropocene, environmental politics, democracy, agonism, science

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Paradigm Dressed as Epoch: The Ideology of the Anthropocene.Jeremy Baskin

Participation and Environmental Governance: Consensus, Ambivalence and Debate. Harriet Bulkeley and Arthur P.J. Mol

Virtues for the Anthropocene. Marcello di Paola

Editorial: The Dying Planet Index: Life, Death and Man’s Domination of Nature. Clive L. Spash

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Social Ecological Transformation, Whether You Like It or Not! Clive L. Spash

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