Peace in the Anthropocene

Anthropocene, Peace, Eurocentrism, Modernity, Coloniality

 

The ensuing, as some scholars argue, increasing (geological) impact of human activity on Earth led to the suggestion of the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch. However, the interdisciplinary debates surrounding the Anthropocene have been and continue to be criticized by People of Color, Indigenous and Black scientists because the term obscures the effects of colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy in the context of the threefold planetary crisis by speaking of anthropos and humans as a homogenous geological force, following a universalizing and essentializing logic. Dealing with Peace in the Anthropocene needs to take this criticism into account and reflect on the moral anthropocentric paradigm underlying understandings of peace since the societal relationships with nature that emerged in Eurocentric knowledge systems and ontologies and were consolidated in colonial modernity, which are characterized by difference and domination, are constitutive for modern understandings of peace, violence and conflict.

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Juliana Krohn is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Innsbruck. Her research focuses on the
interconnections between societal relationships with nature and understandings of peace based on
decolonial and critical perspectives on peace research, education and work.

 

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The interlinked climate, pollution and biodiversity crises are increasingly becoming the subject of peace and conflict studies and are playing an important role in peace work and conflict transformation through approaches such as environmental peacebuilding. In the context of societal relationships with nature in colonial modernity, however, the relationships between humans and the environment are usually only questioned in terms of their benefits, or in terms of their potential for causing or exacerbating conflicts and their consequences for humans. The interconnections between social and ecological challenges thereby are often disregarded. The underlying moral-anthropocentric paradigm can also be observed in peace and conflict research, which for example deals with the climate crisis as a security risk and threat to peace, with land grabbing, or with conflicts and wars over resources, which can at best be understood as symptoms of the causal modern/colonial societal relationships with nature. The ways of doing economics, of living and of being universalized in the wake of European
colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade resulted in a reinterpretation of nature as a resource without agency whose value depended solely on its (economic) usability for (former) colonial centers. The ensuing, as some scholars argue, increasing (geological) impact of human activity on Earth led to the suggestion of the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch. However, the interdisciplinary debates surrounding the Anthropocene have been and continue to be criticized by People of Color, Indigenous and Black scientists because the term obscures the effects of colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy in the context of the threefold planetary crisis by speaking of anthropos and humans as a homogenous geological force, following a universalizing and essentializing logic. Dealing with Peace in the Anthropocene needs to take this criticism into account and reflect on the moral anthropocentric paradigm underlying understandings of peace since the societal relationships with nature that emerged in Eurocentric knowledge systems and ontologies and were consolidated in colonial modernity, which are characterized by difference and domination, are constitutive for modern understandings of peace, violence and conflict.

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