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The confluence of colonisation and ecocide is epitomised in the Anthropocene thesis, which controversially proposes that human planetary impact has assumed geological proportions. The originary impetus for this impact is contested, but its continued manifestation in the violent demarcations, hierarchisations and exclusions of empire is unequivocal. While the Anthropocene concept and its instrumentalisation have been criticised as a perpetuation of this violence, the realisation of human impact and climate crisis might be nonetheless construed as simultaneously subversive. Modernist claims to mastery are generated in response to, but are also challenged by, existential threat, such as a global pandemic. Whereas the language of battle, conquest and defeat dominates political and scientific narrativisation of the pandemic, human and nonhuman entanglement is exemplified in viral zoonosis and microbial agency. Our vulnerability to viral exposure provokes a radical recalibration for our contemporary moment: we are challenged to relinquish conquest narratives, and to reframe encounters between the human and nonhuman.
In this seminar, we invite you to consider the following questions and provocations:
• How is the lived experience of the global pandemic both demonstrative and subversive of the hierarchisation of suffering and care, both human and nonhuman? And what are the implications for law?
• If the nonhuman is prefigured (subdued, idealised, fetishised) by law, how might its manifestation in a global pandemic and the broader implications of the Anthropocene concept facilitate its reconfiguration?
• Given our collective response to the threat of zoonotic and viral exposure, how might a (post-) pandemic perspective challenge us to acknowledge the intrinsic relationality of the human and nonhuman and to develop an ethics of lawful encounter?
Dr Vito De Lucia (UiT The Arctic University of Norway)
Professor Anna Grear (Cardiff University)
Professor Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (University of Westminster)
Dr Kathleen Birrell (University of Melbourne)
Tim Lindgren (University of Melbourne)
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