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Climate Change, History, and Social Theory

Instructor(s): Neil Brenner and Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
Fall 2021

This course considers some of the major approaches to climate change, history, and social theory that have been elaborated in contemporary scholarship. The course is framed with reference to the analysis of major socioenvironmental transformations at planetary, regional, and local scales during the last four centuries of global capitalist development, through historical case studies from major world regions and imperial configurations and their present-day legacies. Key topics include the environmental subtexts/contexts of classical and contemporary social theory and historiography; the histories and geographies of environmental crises under capitalism; the conceptualization of “nature” and the “non-human” in relation to societal (and industrial) dynamics; the role of capitalism and fossil capital in the production of “metabolic rifts”; the impact of earth system science on history and social theory, including in relation to questions of periodization and associated debates on the “Anthropocene,” the “Capitalocene” and the “Plantationocene”; the interplay between urbanization, rural dispossession and climate emergencies; the uneven sociopolitical geographies of risk, vulnerability and disaster; the (geo)politics of decarbonization; insurgent struggles for climate justice; and possible post-carbon futures.

SOCI 40244 | HIST 43204 | CCCT 40244