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Vulnerability and Power in the Age of the Anthropocene

TL;DR: The authors argue that the concept of vulnerability makes an important contribution to the project of situating political and legal theory within the natural world, and that the idea of vulnerability can serve as an important bridge between critical legal theory and the emerging green legal theory.
Abstract: For several decades, critical race feminists have struggled with the limits of equality jurisprudence. Recently, feminist legal theorist Martha Fineman has argued that “vulnerability” should be a starting point for thinking about the state’s obligations to its citizens. In this essay, I argue that Fineman’s concept of vulnerability makes an important contribution to the project of situating political and legal theory within the natural world. We live in what some scientists have dubbed the Anthropocene – an age in which our political choices have implications for the flourishing of all life on earth. The idea of vulnerability can serve as an important bridge between critical legal theory and the emerging “green” legal theory. However, I temper this endorsement of vulnerability theory with the observation that, as the environmental policy literature shows, the term “vulnerability” can also mask social inequality and its political sources. Vulnerability must therefore be supplemented with a robust commitment to power analysis as we begin to craft a political theory appropriate to the age of the Anthropocene. Admit that humans have crawled or secreted themselves into every corner of the environment; admit that the environment is actually inside human bodies and minds, and then proceed politically, technologically, scientifically, in everyday life, with careful forbearance, as you might with unruly relatives to whom you are inextricably bound and with whom you will engage over a lifetime.
Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Despite its noble intentions and some victories, environmental law has been and continues to be complicit in driving the processes and paradigms that give rise to the Anthropocene as discussed by the authors, and environmental law must be held accountable.
Abstract: Despite its noble intentions and some victories, environmental law has been and continues to be complicit in driving the processes and paradigms that give rise to the Anthropocene. Environmental la...

27 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that law has failed to address the ever-deepening socio-ecological crisis of the Anthropocene and propose Earth system law as a legal paradigm for the future.
Abstract: Law has failed to address the ever-deepening socio-ecological crisis of the Anthropocene. In the light of, and as a response to, law’s failures in this respect, this paper argues in support of developing a new legal paradigm for the Anthropocene epoch called Earth system law. It does so first by briefly describing the Anthropocene trope and the extent and dimensions of its socio-ecological crisis. The paper then specifically focuses on international environmental law as an example of how and why law has become incapable of, and inappropriate for, addressing this crisis, and for being unable to respond to the Anthropocene’s regulatory demands. By drawing on three Earth system-related regulatory implications of the Anthropocene trope (i.e., inclusivity, interdependencies and complexity), the final part of the paper makes out a case in support of reforming law and creating a new Earth system oriented legal paradigm that is fit for purpose in the Anthropocene epoch.

25 citations


Cites background from "Vulnerability and Power in the Age ..."

  • ...In other words, addressing the vulnerability of the entire Earth system must become a central concern of and objective for Earth system law [73]....

    [...]

Posted Content
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors apply the emerging paradigm of vulnerability theory to a recent suite of polygamy and same-sex marriage rulings, with particular focus on the figure of the "vulnerable" child.
Abstract: Much of the legal debate surrounding the challenge to “traditional” heterosexual marriage has involved questions of liberty, discrimination, and equal treatment. Similar moves have now been made by advocates for polygamous marriage, indicating that polygamous families may be on track to follow in the rainbow contrails of same-sex marriage. This Article argues that such an evolution is indeed likely, but for different reasons than commonly held. Instead, it applies the emerging paradigm of vulnerability theory to a recent suite of polygamy and same-sex marriage rulings, with particular focus on the figure of the “vulnerable” child. At the same time, this Article will also consider the legal and social consequences of the mechanics of reproduction within both same-sex and polygamous families. It will ask what the lessons of same-sex parents using assisted reproductive technology (ART) might offer in thinking through the future of polygamy. Plural forms of parentage indicate that we are in a period of marriage evolution, wherein multiple adult caregivers may have a potential claim on the right to parent a given child. These contemporary struggles are already transforming the legal landscape in other countries. The vulnerability analysis will shed light on why it is only a matter of time before they also shift the two-parent mode of care taking in the United States, given the overlapping vulnerabilities of dependent children, the state, and the institution of marriage itself.

16 citations

Book Chapter
01 Jan 2019
TL;DR: The Anthropocene has become one of the most influential and controversial terms in environmental policy as discussed by the authors, giving rise to a multitude of unexpected, and often uncomfortable, conversations, including science, philosophy, and literary fiction.
Abstract: Coined barely two decades ago, the Anthropocene has become one of the most influential and controversial terms in environmental policy. Yet it remains an ambivalent and contested formulation, giving rise to a multitude of unexpected, and often uncomfortable, conversations. This book traces in detail a broad variety of such 'Anthropocene encounters': in science, philosophy and literary fiction. It asks what it means to 'think green' in a time when nature no longer offers a stable backdrop to political analysis. Do familiar political categories and concepts, such as democracy, justice, power and time, hold when confronted with a world radically transformed by humans? The book responds by inviting more radical political thought, plural forms of engagement, and extended ethical commitments, making it a fascinating and timely volume for graduate students and researchers working in earth system governance, environmental politics and studies of the Anthropocene. [Book Synopsis]

14 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the exploitations du secteur minier aux injustices environnementales et climatiques, a l'echelle locale et mondiale, allant frequemment de pair avec des violations des droits fondamentau...
Abstract: On associe les exploitations du secteur minier aux injustices environnementales et climatiques, a l’echelle locale et mondiale, allant frequemment de pair avec des violations des droits fondamentau...

14 citations

References
More filters
Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Despite its noble intentions and some victories, environmental law has been and continues to be complicit in driving the processes and paradigms that give rise to the Anthropocene as discussed by the authors, and environmental law must be held accountable.
Abstract: Despite its noble intentions and some victories, environmental law has been and continues to be complicit in driving the processes and paradigms that give rise to the Anthropocene. Environmental la...

27 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that law has failed to address the ever-deepening socio-ecological crisis of the Anthropocene and propose Earth system law as a legal paradigm for the future.
Abstract: Law has failed to address the ever-deepening socio-ecological crisis of the Anthropocene. In the light of, and as a response to, law’s failures in this respect, this paper argues in support of developing a new legal paradigm for the Anthropocene epoch called Earth system law. It does so first by briefly describing the Anthropocene trope and the extent and dimensions of its socio-ecological crisis. The paper then specifically focuses on international environmental law as an example of how and why law has become incapable of, and inappropriate for, addressing this crisis, and for being unable to respond to the Anthropocene’s regulatory demands. By drawing on three Earth system-related regulatory implications of the Anthropocene trope (i.e., inclusivity, interdependencies and complexity), the final part of the paper makes out a case in support of reforming law and creating a new Earth system oriented legal paradigm that is fit for purpose in the Anthropocene epoch.

25 citations

Posted Content
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors apply the emerging paradigm of vulnerability theory to a recent suite of polygamy and same-sex marriage rulings, with particular focus on the figure of the "vulnerable" child.
Abstract: Much of the legal debate surrounding the challenge to “traditional” heterosexual marriage has involved questions of liberty, discrimination, and equal treatment. Similar moves have now been made by advocates for polygamous marriage, indicating that polygamous families may be on track to follow in the rainbow contrails of same-sex marriage. This Article argues that such an evolution is indeed likely, but for different reasons than commonly held. Instead, it applies the emerging paradigm of vulnerability theory to a recent suite of polygamy and same-sex marriage rulings, with particular focus on the figure of the “vulnerable” child. At the same time, this Article will also consider the legal and social consequences of the mechanics of reproduction within both same-sex and polygamous families. It will ask what the lessons of same-sex parents using assisted reproductive technology (ART) might offer in thinking through the future of polygamy. Plural forms of parentage indicate that we are in a period of marriage evolution, wherein multiple adult caregivers may have a potential claim on the right to parent a given child. These contemporary struggles are already transforming the legal landscape in other countries. The vulnerability analysis will shed light on why it is only a matter of time before they also shift the two-parent mode of care taking in the United States, given the overlapping vulnerabilities of dependent children, the state, and the institution of marriage itself.

16 citations

Book Chapter
01 Jan 2019
TL;DR: The Anthropocene has become one of the most influential and controversial terms in environmental policy as discussed by the authors, giving rise to a multitude of unexpected, and often uncomfortable, conversations, including science, philosophy, and literary fiction.
Abstract: Coined barely two decades ago, the Anthropocene has become one of the most influential and controversial terms in environmental policy. Yet it remains an ambivalent and contested formulation, giving rise to a multitude of unexpected, and often uncomfortable, conversations. This book traces in detail a broad variety of such 'Anthropocene encounters': in science, philosophy and literary fiction. It asks what it means to 'think green' in a time when nature no longer offers a stable backdrop to political analysis. Do familiar political categories and concepts, such as democracy, justice, power and time, hold when confronted with a world radically transformed by humans? The book responds by inviting more radical political thought, plural forms of engagement, and extended ethical commitments, making it a fascinating and timely volume for graduate students and researchers working in earth system governance, environmental politics and studies of the Anthropocene. [Book Synopsis]

14 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the exploitations du secteur minier aux injustices environnementales et climatiques, a l'echelle locale et mondiale, allant frequemment de pair avec des violations des droits fondamentau...
Abstract: On associe les exploitations du secteur minier aux injustices environnementales et climatiques, a l’echelle locale et mondiale, allant frequemment de pair avec des violations des droits fondamentau...

14 citations