Geography Compass recently published Janae Davis, Alex A. Moulton, Levi Van Sant, and Brian Williams in the political geography section, on a political-geographical approach to “the Plantationocene,” with a particular emphasis on neglected geographies of race and on practices of undoing social and ecological legacies of the plantation. Their article is “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, … Plantationocene?: A Manifesto for Ecological Justice in an Age of Global Crises.” The abstract is below.
The “Plantationocene” has gained traction in the environmental humanities as a way of conceptualizing the current era otherwise nominated as the Anthropocene, Capitalocene, or the Chthulucene. For Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing, and their interlocutors, the concept suggests that our current ecological crisis is rooted in logics of environmental modernization, homogeneity, and control, which were developed on historical plantations. This paper argues that, while there is indeed a need to analyze the ways in which the plantation past shapes the present, current discussions of the Plantationocene have several crucial limitations. Here, we focus on two: first, the current multispecies framing conceptualizes the plantation largely as a system of human control over nature, obscuring the centrality of racial politics; and second, the emerging Plantationocene discussion has yet to meaningfully engage with the wide variety of existing critiques of the plantation mode of development. Thus, we draw on a deep well of Black geographic and ecological work that provides a powerful challenge to the ongoing colonial–racial legacies of the plantation, prompting consideration of white supremacy, capitalist development, and (mis)characterizations of what it means to be human. These approaches not only reveal a more nuanced and comprehensive analysis of the role of the plantation in current global crises but also highlight ongoing struggles and the possibilities of ecological justice in the future.
We are looking ahead to some exciting articles in the coming months. These include pieces on geoeconomics, memory and the city, settler colonialism, and ethnography.