Planet Work: Rethinking Labor and Leisure in the Anthropocene 9781684484621

Labor and labor norms orient much of contemporary life, organizing our days and years and driving planetary environmenta

256 108 3MB

English Pages 284 [296] Year 2022

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Planet Work: Rethinking Labor and Leisure in the Anthropocene

Table of contents :
INTRODUCTION Denaturalizing the Slow Violence of Work
1 ▶ WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE The Dragon, the Phoenix, and the Golden Spike
3 ▶ UNFREE LABOR Slavery and the Anthropocene in the Americas
5 ▶ RECONSTRUCTION AGRARIANISM IN DOUGLASS AND BURROUGHS Relational Labor against White Supremacist Ownership
6 ▶ THE WORK OF THE GLOBE How the Unisphere, Icon of the 1964–1965 World’s Fair, Illuminates the Nature of Modern Work
7 ▶ LEISURE AND LIGHT WORK Coming of Age in Wendell Berry’s and Thomas Pynchon’s Novels of Extraction
8 ▶ WALKING THE LINE BETWEEN LEISURE AND LABOR Dorothy Wordsworth and Harriet Martineau in the English Lake District
9 ▶ LABOR, LEISURE, AND LOVE OF COUNTRY Rangering in the Age of the Alt-NPS
10 ▶ LEARNING TO PLAY IN THE ANTHROPOCENE Winter Recreation and the Politics of Climate Change
11 ▶ WEAVING “LIFEWORKINGS” Goanna Walking between Humanism and Posthumanism, Dharug Women’s Way
CODA ▶ PEDAGOGICAL ANTHROPO/SCENES Reviving Craft in the Academy

Citation preview


PL ANET WORK Rethinking ­Labor and Leisure in the Anthropocene

Edited by

Rya n Hediger

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

 978-1-68448-459-1 (cloth) 978-1-68448-458-4 (paper) 978-1-68448-460-7 (epub) Cataloging-in-publication data is available from the Library of Congress. LCCN 2022009858 A British Cataloging-­in-­Publication rec­ord for this book is available from the British Library. This collection copyright © 2023 by Bucknell University Press Individual chapters copyright © 2023 in the names of their authors All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Bucknell University Press, Hildreth-­Mirza Hall, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837-2005. The only exception to this prohibition is “fair use” as defined by U.S. copyright law. References to internet websites (URLs) ­were accurate at the time of writing. Neither the author nor Bucknell University Press is responsible for URLs that may have expired or changed since the manuscript was prepared. The paper used in this publication meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—­Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992. www​.­bucknelluniversitypress​.o­ rg Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press Manufactured in the United States of Amer­i­ca

 For workers everywhere


Introduction: Denaturalizing the Slow Vio­lence of Work ryan hediger


Section One: Questioning “Anthropocene” Frames 1

What’s Past Is Prologue: The Dragon, the Phoenix, and the Golden Spike david l. rodland


Anthropocene Per­for­mance: Work without Ends ted geier

35 51

Section Two: Rethinking Work in the Anthropocene 3

Unfree ­Labor: Slavery and the Anthropocene in the Amer­i­cas ryan hediger



The Rise of the Novel and the Narrative L ­ abor of Horses in the En­glish Novel of the Early Anthropocene sinan akilli



Reconstruction Agrarianism in Douglass and Burroughs: Relational L ­ abor against White Supremacist Owner­ship daniel clausen



The Work of the Globe: How the Unisphere, Icon of the 1964–1965 World’s Fair, Illuminates the Nature of Modern Work james armstrong


Leisure and Light Work: Coming of Age in Wendell Berry’s and Thomas Pynchon’s Novels of Extraction matt wanat



Section Three: Learning from Leisure in the Anthropocene 8

Walking the Line between Leisure and ­Labor: Dorothy Words­worth and Harriet Martineau in the En­glish Lake District amanda adams






Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country: Rangering in the Age of the Alt-­NPS jennifer k. ladino


1 0

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene: Winter Recreation and the Politics of Climate Change ­w ill elliott and kevin maier


1 1

Weaving “Lifeworkings”: Goanna Walking between Humanism and Posthumanism, Dharug ­Women’s Way jo anne rey



Pedagogical Anthropo/Scenes: Reviving Craft in the Acad­emy sharon ­o’dair


Acknowl­edgments 253 Bibliography 255 Notes on Contributors 277 Index 281


INTRODUCTION Denaturalizing the Slow Vio­lence of Work RYA N H E D I G E R

When COVID-19 first made its presence known on the global

stage in early 2020, it brought the social contract and its orientation around work starkly into focus. A politicized debate arose around how much damage to the economy should be sustained in order to reduce the spread of the disease. In other words, it became for some a question of economy versus life. Many saw that debate as a shocking affront to the dignity and value of life. It is. Yet, in fact, the two are regularly put in conflict. That, in a nutshell, is the central tension investigated by the chapters in this volume, a tension that we suggest is crucial to the larger investigation of questions of the Anthropocene: work versus life, extraction versus care.1 One might c­ ounter this framing with the common claim that work and life are not opposed but complementary. Well, sometimes, for some forms of life. In fact, as the following chapters demonstrate, too often, work directly conflicts with the needs and values of life—­especially life beyond the “­human.” Binary distinctions such human/nonhuman and human/inhuman have been some of the most power­ful ways of facilitating and excusing harm, including harm to ­humans, particularly groups of ­humans seen as “inhuman” or less-­than-­human, racist designations that sought to justify the massive l­abor movements of chattel slavery as well as huge international migrations, forced and “voluntary,” migrations that powered 1


Rya n Hediger

the rising industrialism that is so often associated with modern environmental trauma evoked with the controversial name “Anthropocene.”2 The Anthropocene, we suggest, names a massive, long-­term global crisis caused in large mea­sure by l­abor norms and l­abor machines.3 Although it may not be obvious at first, this is true of all the myriad approaches to defining and framing the “Anthropocene,” which is a disputed concept in a range of ways. The clearest case connecting the Anthropocene to work is the standard, often-­noted argument by Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer, who first pop­ul­ar­ized the term “Anthropocene.” They date the beginning of the epoch to the advent of James Watt’s steam engine in 1784.4 That device helped facilitate a radical transformation of the nature of work and the nature of life for ­humans and fi­nally for all life. We might say henceforth that h­ uman work—­which can be defined as a set of ideologically framed, deliberate practices intent on transforming the world to fit ­human wants and needs—­began to approximate the work of increasingly refined machines that are paired with nonhuman animals to model regimes of l­ abor across the centuries.5 Another historical moment marked as the opening of the Anthropocene epoch is 1610, marking the onset of the “Columbian Exchange” of plants, animals, and other forms of life wrought by Eu­ro­pean contact with (what are now often called) the Amer­i­cas a­ fter Christopher Columbus’s expeditions.6 While one might not first connect such events to l­abor per se, Columbus’s primary motivation in sailing was to engage in the spice trade, clearly an undertaking of commerce. The imperialist and colonialist history that ensued, and its importance to modern conceptions and practices of work, does not need rehearsal h­ ere. A third prominent date used to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene is 1945, with the G ­ reat Acceleration of h­ uman population growth and fossil fuel use ­after World War II.7 Accentuating the claim by Jan Zalasiewicz and colleagues, Jesse Oak Taylor emphasizes that 1945 represents primarily a change in the scale of already existing trends.8 That is, for example, population growth and fossil fuel use already existed but increased markedly a­ fter 1945. Again, one may not immediately connect such changes to norms of l­abor per se, but, we are arguing h­ ere, one should: all t­ hese shifts w ­ ere facilitated by the steady development of w ­ hole systems of l­abor, mining and extraction, transportation and distribution, material science, and so on. Indeed, in her discussion of ­these dates competing as the ”origin” of the Anthropocene, Kathryn Yusoff emphasizes how the three distinct moments in a larger cultural system all demonstrate a technology of race that turned Black, Brown, and Indigenous p­ eoples into inhuman objects who could be sacrificed in a regime of extraction.9 Such regimes continue to operate in the revised forms of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and financially dependent Third World governments, contributing to a Planet of Slums, as Mike Davis titles his book.10 How might such realities change if cultures prioritized care as a value instead of extraction? Beyond ­those three prominent dates, another moment has often been cited as the opening of the Anthropocene: the dawn of agriculture, some 12,500  years

Introduction 3

ago.11 Perhaps even more so than the dates mentioned above, this boundary is porous and somewhat indistinct.12 As James C. Scott shows, for instance, agriculture ­rose gradually as part of a complex strategy of gaining access to food that also included hunter-­gatherer techniques.13 For our purposes in this essay collection, rather than insist on protocols that aim to affirm a single event and date to found the Anthropocene, we follow the lead of scholars like Steve Mentz, who urges us to “pluralize the Anthropocene,” to recognize its multiple histories and dynamics.14 That approach motivates this collection’s inclusion of a range of theoretical frames and subjects of inquiry, from the roles of h­ orses in eighteenth-­century ­Great Britain (chapter 4) to the importance of walking for Dharug First ­People in Australia across millennia (chapter 11), from the nineteenth-­century Black agrarian tradition in the U.S. (chapter  5) to the globalist fantasies connected to the 1964–1965 World’s Fair in New York (chapter 6). The summary above, tracking the history of the Anthropocene dispute, notably toggles backward and forward in time, from 1784 to 1610, from 1945 to 12,500 years ago, demonstrating how Anthropocene debates radically upset the conventional sense of time marching in an orderly, linear way. Even as Anthropocene framings aim to periodize, then, they also complicate forms of neat periodization, pluralizing time.15 Threading through ­these pluralities is a common theme: the crucial importance of work. The oldest date, reaching back so far as to essentially replace the Holocene epoch with the Anthropocene, is compelling to mention in part ­because it links modernity with hunter-­gatherer practices, a lineation that is impor­tant in order to draw stark contrasts between and among pos­si­ble ways of living as ­human beings on planet Earth. More on that below. Despite the centrality of work to t­ hese concerns, stunningly, far too l­ ittle analy­ sis impugns our fundamental cultural conceptions and practices of work in the context of environmental trauma.16 This is a crucial lacuna. Th ­ ere is a ­great deal of discourse on changing machines and their fuel systems, say replacing fossil fuels with renewables; a g­ reat deal of discourse on pollution and species extinctions; and infinitely much discourse on the politics of all t­hese steps. And, of course, ­there is a robust tradition investigating the power dynamics of l­abor, not just in Marxism but in trade u­ nionism and the like. Th ­ ese are all impor­tant discourses, but this collection, motivated partly by the Anthropocene’s much wider framings, opens broader questions. We need to ask more fundamentally: What is work for? As Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-­Baptiste Fressoz argue in their book The Shock of the Anthropocene, the modern industrial and ­labor system was intended and designed to produce control over the planet. They quote Saint-­Simon in the early nineteenth ­century, who states this princi­ple plainly: “The object of industry is the exploitation of the globe.”17 Yusoff similarly accents the deliberateness and desire driving long-­ term regimes of extraction.18 This logic of transformation clearly underlies the history of agriculture and urbanization,19 and it takes severe and concentrated form in organ­ izations such as the United States Bureau of Reclamation, which has transformed millions of acres of land with the building of dams, a pro­cess then repeated globally.20


Rya n Hediger

Perhaps the most astonishing example of this transformational logic is Operation Plowshare in the 1960s United States, the vision of using nuclear explosions, ostensibly peacefully, to remake planet Earth. It would have involved removing mountains for highways, excavating massive cavities in the earth for vari­ous purposes, exploding new w ­ ater ports into existence, and so on. As Jennifer Fay explains, this program “targets the earth itself as the obstacle to ­human pro­gress.”21 Earth must be destroyed and remade in humanity’s image. Clearly, in huge ways, Earth has indeed been remade in “humanity’s” image. Such efforts are only pos­si­ble ­because many billions l­ abor to make them so. This is doubly destructive. The l­abor practices themselves harm laborers, and the undertakings harm the planet. Yet, ­labor per se remains one of the uncritically embraced ele­ments of con­temporary life. Even critics on the left, who may question owner­ship of the means of production and the justice (and injustice) of the class system, tend to tacitly assume the soundness of the general framework placing ­labor practices at the center of life. Interrogating l­ abor regimes is central to the ecological Marxist tradition, for example, from John Bellamy Foster to Jason  W. Moore. This discourse is vitally impor­tant and informs ele­ments of this volume. But its frames of interpretation—­like all frames of interpretation—­have limitations as well as strengths. For instance, such writing often treats ­labor at aggregate levels via a terminology of energy and metabolism.22 Such framings can disable other fundamental questions about our ­labor imaginary, not only about how justly work norms are exercised and the like but also about what l­abor is for and how and why we do it, and even w ­ hether we should. That last question is placed squarely at the center of Kathi Weeks’s valuable 2011 book, The Prob­lem with Work.23 By contrast, when ecological Marxism sometimes blends distinct and individual experience into a homogeneous category, it makes the kind of move, like commodification’s deindividualization of entities, that participates in precisely the kind of extraction logic that this collection calls into question. Much of the tradition of writing about ­labor, in other words, is still in the thrall of power­ful cultural norms and beliefs built around and for work. Work norms can be interrogated one layer deeper, reaching much further back in time for comparisons to other ways of life, a move that is enabled partly by the power­ful antiracist work happening in many domains. Black, Brown, and Indigenous ­peoples have been forced, ­after all, to perform much of the ­labor of the past half millennium. This collection ventures an effort in that direction of deeper interrogation, relying on a range of theoretical frameworks to claim that attention to our norms of work provides not only a scholarly entrance into this issue but also, more importantly, a practical route into cultural change in the Anthropocene. We inquire into how such changes might look by exploring work and its modern binary opposite, leisure. To facilitate this effort, this introduction claims a more focused and narrow position pointed especially at the norms and expectations around work: they remain one of the most thoroughly naturalized and power­ful sets of expectations driving con­temporary life, including particularly the trends that are gathered

Introduction 5

together ­under the term “Anthropocene.” Even without the Anthropocene, ­these norms would need to be reconsidered, as many scholars discussed below have argued. Work norms are naturalized in the sense of being understood as inevitable and inherent to ­human life. The term “work” risks reproducing this naturalization, since it can be read as the term from physics denoting energy expended over time. That is not our meaning ­here; we intend a meaning synonymous with “­labor.” And work norms are power­ful in the sense that, what­ever the technological, social, demographic, and environmental changes involved with the epoch, ­those changes are often powered by ­human actions. ­These h­ uman actions invariably involve partnerships with the nonhuman, to be sure, as many posthumanist and ecocritical scholars have noted, importantly.24 However, such arguments risk blinding us to the power of specifically ­human expectations around work, which have been among the most power­ful motors driving change ­after change in a history that predates capitalism. Our “partnerships” with nonhuman animals and materials, then, are often better understood as asymmetrical at best, or violent, even necropo­liti­cal enslavements at worst. But—­again, this is crucial—­I do not mean that the norms around work are universally h­ uman, practiced by all p­ eople everywhere in the same ways. Not at all. Th ­ ere are massive and vital differences among cultures and across time as regards work. Recognizing ­those differences ­frees us from the potential trap of imagining that ­humans are simply a doomed species, destined to work endlessly and forever ­because of some fatal flaw. However, across the po­liti­cal spectrum, a sense of inevitability attends to many ele­ments of work, as the l­abor historian Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt explains in concluding his book ­Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream: Overwork “appears to some to be the inexorable outcome of capitalism.”25 Yet, as he details in that text, ­there is a power­ful tradition in the United States of thinking other­wise, of imagining better purposes for life beyond work; that tradition is inside capitalism. More generally, much significant and readily available evidence suggests that the prevailing social contract around work is far from inevitable. Juliet B. Schor, for instance, made a significant cultural splash with her 1992 book The Overworked American, which, among other t­ hings, registers a clear and forceful account of the varied history of work. She reminds us, despite the strong, general cultural bias in ­favor of ostensible development and modernity, that hunter-­gatherers, “so-­called primitive ­peoples . . . ​do ­little work,” very much the opposite of the supposition that early ­human life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” in the immortal words of Thomas Hobbes.26 Scott makes a point similar to Schor’s, noting that “contrary to e­ arlier assumptions, hunters and gatherers—­even t­ oday in the marginal refugia they inhabit—­are nothing like the famished, one-­day-­away-­from-­ starvation desperados of folklore. Hunters and gatherers have, in fact, never looked so good—in terms of their diet, their health, and their leisure.”27 Jo Anne Rey’s chapter in this volume reflects on such traditions from inside them. Such ambiguity about how to understand the premodern past and how to compare it to the pre­sent is a deep prob­lem, explains Gary S. Cross, a “conflict . . . ​


Rya n Hediger

at least, as old as the modern discipline of history.”28 Why? Schor offers a power­ful explanation, worth quoting at length, of how such a prob­lem could endure: One of capitalism’s most durable myths is that it has reduced ­human toil. This myth is typically defended by a comparison of the modern forty-­hour week with its seventy-­or eighty-­hour counterpart in the nineteenth c­ entury. The implicit—­but rarely articulated—­assumption is that the eighty-­hour standard has prevailed for centuries. The comparison conjures up the dreary life of medieval peasants, toiling steadily from dawn to dusk. We are asked to imagine the journeyman artisan in a cold, damp garret, rising even before the sun, laboring by candlelight into the night. ­These images are backward projections of modern work patterns. And they are false. Before capitalism, most ­people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure. When capitalism raised their incomes, it also took away their time. Indeed, ­there is good reason to believe that working hours in the mid-­nineteenth c­ entury constitute the most prodigious work effort in the entire history of humankind. Therefore, we must take a longer view and look back not just one hundred years, but three or four, even six or seven hundred.29

We have already seen how Anthropocene framing of this prob­lem resembles—­ and radically extends—­Schor’s sense that we need a much wider temporal reach to better investigate this issue. She stretches back as far as seven hundred years into the past; this collection stretches more than ten thousand years backward, at least in a nascent way. That gesture follows scholars such as Scott and Morton, discussed above, and James Suzman in his 2021 book Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots, where (like Morton) he derives modern ­labor norms from the growth of agriculture some ten thousand years ago.30 This wider temporal reach is one of the more impor­tant gestures in this volume ­because it has the potential to significantly reframe our understandings of work and h­ uman relationships with the planet. Schor shows, drawing on scholarship in history, sociology, and more, that the very distinction between ­labor and leisure is largely an artifact of the developing regimes of work in capitalism.31 Furthermore, she argues, rather than cap­it­al­ist modernity freeing us for leisure, largely the opposite is true: leisure began to take its modern shape in the nineteenth c­ entury “­because workers strug­gled mightily against the normal pro­cesses that determined the length of working hours. In this sense, leisure exists in spite of rather than as a result of capitalism.”32 Schor’s work resembles much other impor­tant thinking that is inching ­toward recasting norms around work, especially in light of the growing anxiety about the automation of jobs not only in the blue-­collar sector but also, increasingly, in the white-­collar sector.33 Perhaps most prominently, considerations of a Green New Deal in the United States have animated discussions around l­abor norms, even

Introduction 7

though they tend to accept the basic structure of the working day and working life in capitalism. The “­Great Resignation,” the massive wave of ­people dropping out of employment in the midst of experiences in COVID-19, sometimes includes calls for more radical rethinking of l­abor norms.34 Interest in a Universal Basic Income, also sometimes called a Basic Income Guarantee, a Basic Income, and ­others, has grown of late, though it is a centuries-­old idea, reaching back to Thomas More’s Utopia (1551) at least.35 The core idea is that ­every citizen receive a fixed monetary stipend, though ­there are many variations. It is not just theoretical; the idea has been put in practice in vari­ous forms. For example, in 2017, Finland ran a trial that, ­after two years, was not renewed by the government;36 in Canada, a town in the province of Manitoba offered a basic income in the 1970s; pi­lot programs w ­ ere run on three additional continents, in India, ­Kenya, Brazil and elsewhere;37 and in the United States, the Alaska Permanent Fund, established in 1976 with monies supplied largely by oil and gas extraction in the state, issues dividends annually to Alaska residents, with some exceptions and rules.38 ­These ideas, which share logic with other forms of socialized provision such as Social Security, welfare, and the Veterans Administration, all in the United States, signal a separation between obligatory work norms and standard of life. And scholarship such as David Graeber’s sharp rebuke of common ­labor norms, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, shows a minority interest in revisiting questions of l­ abor. Graeber’s book, which began as a controversial essay that went viral, argues that the cultural obsession with work as a moral undertaking has, perversely, produced a world with far too many jobs that fail to provide any social value, jobs that are resented as purposeless even by ­those who work them.39 Such scenarios are worsened by the growing recognition that prevailing regimes of work are inefficient, even on their own terms. ­Human beings, exposed to excessive ­labor daily and annually, tend to resist, to slack off, to grow torpid w ­ hether consciously or inadvertently. Thus, even some committed cap­i­tal­ists see the benefit in rethinking the social contract regarding working hours.40 Yet, in the public squares and the universities, in secondary education systems, and so on, the dominant feelings and concerns tend to flow in the opposite direction, emphasizing the need for and the value of permanent and stable employment according to the norms and procedures familiar throughout the West. As the sociologists Stephen Sweet and Peter Meiksins put it in their book Changing Contours of Work: Jobs and Opportunities in the New Economy, “Western Eu­ro­pean and American culture advanced the value of the work ethic, a belief that work is not something ­people simply do, but is a God-­given purpose in life.” They note that such a view of work can become “pathological,” leading to workaholism and the like; nonetheless, ­those who resist such scripts of work norms are often denied standing as moral and upright citizens, becoming “threat[s] to social order.”41 Amid t­ hese prevailing social norms, college students are increasingly driven into career-­focused majors by parents and administrators concerned to win compensation for their educations, increasingly understood as investments.42


Rya n Hediger

Should We Call It the “Anthropocene”? It is impor­tant to register another key controversy swirling around the term “Anthropocene,” ­here best put in quotation marks: Is the name itself even apt? A number of critics have exposed the fallacy of naming a geological epoch ­after all of humanity—­anthropos—­when in fact much of the responsibility for the changes the term designates lies with a relatively small group of p­ eople. Bonneuil and Fressoz underscore the massive unevenness of responsibility for climate change this way, for instance: “Ninety corporations are responsible for 63 per cent of the cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide and methane between 1850 and ­today.”43 Andreas Malm coined the term “Capitalocene,” emphasizing how the system of cap­i­tal­ist production is most essentially to blame.44 In Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming, Malm thus argues against understanding industrial machinery as the first cause of this change. Instead, he claims that the decision to move away from water-­powered mills, and the like, to fossil power was inspired first and foremost by a desire to control the conditions of ­labor. He underscores capitalism’s class antagonism, harmful to the worker and intensified by growing technical power: “From the very start, at the very smallest scale—in the hot factory, the smoky street, the mine laden with explosives—­there emerged a pattern—­some swept away by the storm we call pro­gress, ­others sailing on to their fortunes—­subsequently magnified and iterated on progressively larger scales, ­until climate scientists discovered it in the biosphere as a ­whole, where the self-­similar storm now spirals on.”45 As implied in that passage, Malm insists that this pattern continues to produce profoundly dif­fer­ent exposures to harm in the ongoing environmental crisis.46 Even as Malm captures well ­here the scaling up in terms of power, Bonneuil and Fressoz give reason to quibble with this notion that climate science discovery is recent, underscoring instead that ­labor and economics discourses have long thought at the planetary scale, aiming to remake the entire world, which renders the importance of purpose and intention clearer yet.47 In other words, such accounts motivate the case of this introduction that (initially much disputed) forms of ­labor are at the heart of producing the condition and the temporal period of the Anthropocene. Jason W. Moore’s work reinforces this case, arguing that we need a more complex view of the Anthropocene than one that simply blames the rise of fossil fuels. As he shows, the tendency to mark the beginning of modernity with the rise of the steam engine obscures the long history of transformations that had an impact on ­labor, land, and much more, dating back to 1450 at least.48 Jan de Vries makes a detailed version of this argument about the run-up to modern capitalism in The Industrious Revolution, showing that many of the transformations w ­ ere cultural and social, not merely technological. In part, communities engaged in new forms of desire for new commodities that w ­ ere increasingly available.49 Thus, we see a kind of dialogue or interbraiding among the means of production, its products, and the cultures surrounding them, complicating ­simple accounts of the causalities of economic change.

Introduction 9

Donna Haraway has also proposed the term “Plantationocene” to underscore the impact, more specifically, of regimes of monocrop planting and slavery, which she notes preceded widespread use of fossil fuels. The economic system of the plantation involves isolating and alienating a range of forms of life, from the primary crops to the (generally enslaved) workers to the microbes necessary to make the assemblage work. As Anna L. Tsing notes, participating in the discussion that generated the term “Plantationocene,” the plantation facilitated “an abstract relation between investment and property” that clearly undergirds capitalism in general, especially the more recent and power­ful global capitalism.50 Timothy Morton pursues this logic much further back in time to the development of agriculture, resisting “Capitalocene” naming to argue that “capital and capitalism are symptoms of the prob­lem, not its direct c­ auses.”51 Noburu Ishikawa, an anthropologist in Kyoto, Japan, discusses the use of the term “Humanosphere,” perhaps a less totalizing alternative to “Anthropocene.”52 In The Shock of the Anthropocene, Bonneuil and Fressoz use the range of pos­si­ble names for the epoch as an ordering princi­ple of their text, marching through possibilities such as Thermocene, Thanatocene, and Phagocene, using t­ hese terms in separate chapters to emphasize the importance of heat, death, and consumption, respectively, to the global changes being named.53 Mentz offers yet a longer list of alternative names.54 Still other names have been proposed, and more are likely to proliferate. The alternative terms derive from impor­tant arguments, and I simply register and report their range ­here, rather than try to choose an alternative to “Anthropocene” among them. The uneasy decision to use the term “Anthropocene” as part of the framing of this collection is intended merely to gesture t­ oward this w ­ hole debate, which, for good or ill, already seems or­ga­nized around the term;55 despite its flaws, the term facilitates a field of inquiry.56 Generally, however, the essays in this collection take a clearer position in Anthropocene debates in insisting on a more meticulous historiography and cultural criticism that indexes the contingent development of climate change and the other features named “Anthropocene.” That contingency ­matters not just, or even especially, for historical accuracy, but for imagining dif­ fer­ent pos­si­ble ­futures. By denaturalizing and historicizing l­abor regimes in a range of scenarios, we make room for alternatives that are presented in a variety of ways h­ ere, including explorations of walking that undermine the labor/leisure distinction (chapters 8 and 11), a study of park rangers’ work oriented by care rather than extraction (chapter 9), and a consideration of how leisured practices like skiing can open new thinking about the nonhuman environment (chapter 10).

Thinking Through Neoliberalism in the Anthropocene ­ ere are a number of obstacles to rethinking ­labor, including the sense already Th mentioned that our l­ abor norms are basically natu­ral or at least inevitable. But the critique of neoliberalism in several quarters can have a denaturalizing effect, even


Rya n Hediger

if that critique sometimes fails to escape familiar anthropocentric frames. Consider Wendy Brown’s compelling book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution as exemplary. Brown shows how challenging it has become to rethink questions of work and ­labor. She rightly criticizes neoliberalism’s tendency to reduce all of life to the economic realm. In fact, that is how Brown defines neoliberalism, “as a normative order of reason developed over three de­cades into a widely and deeply disseminated governing rationality” that turns “­every ­human domain and endeavor, along with ­humans themselves,” into economic entities. Brown emphasizes that “all conduct is economic conduct” for neoliberalism.57 She notes that this reduction of thinking about every­thing to economic terms has multiple interlocking effects. First, in neoliberalism, as individuals we are required to be “responsible for ourselves,” even as our efforts offer “no guarantee of security, protection, or even survival.”58 The traditional securities provided by communities and robust social networks are undermined in this structure, isolating ­people as individuals, like solitary economic units. Second, neoliberalism reverses the expectations of liberal democracy, which no longer serves to ensure equality, as in the U.S. Bill of Rights, but instead works to facilitate in­equality. In the competitive economic marketplace, in­equality is seen as evidence of freedom.59 That is what results when the logic of cap­i­tal­ist economics infiltrates the po­liti­cal, undermining the conventional distinction between t­ hose two domains. “Third, when every­thing is capital, l­abor dis­appears as a category, as does its collective form, class, taking with it the analytic basis for alienation, exploitation, and association among laborers.”60 Fourth, “the foundation vanishes for citizenship concerned with public ­things and the common good.”61 One ele­ment—­the essential ele­ment— of the common good, of course, is environment. ­These are impor­tant, resonant critiques that deserve attention. Indeed, their resonance deepens and extends when we stretch their temporal frame and more self-­consciously include the nonhuman beyond what Brown’s frame permits. Consider another key passage in Brown that underscores how the dominance of economic thinking increasingly damages all classes: As economic par­ameters become the only par­ameters for all conduct and concern, the ­limited form of h­ uman existence that Aristotle and ­later Hannah Arendt designated as “mere life” and that Marx called life “confined by necessity”—­concern with survival and wealth acquisition—­this ­limited form and imaginary becomes ubiquitous and total across classes. Neoliberal rationality eliminates what t­hese thinkers termed “the good life” (Aristotle) or “the true realm of freedom” (Marx), by which they did not mean luxury, leisure, or indulgence, but rather the cultivation and expression of distinctly ­human capacities for ethical and po­liti­cal freedom, creativity, unbounded reflection, or invention.62

Brown accents the importance of values beyond ostensible economic necessity—­ “the good life,” “creativity,” “reflection.” ­These are the kinds of orientations and

Introduction 11

goals emphasized particularly in section  3 of this volume. But the discourses around the Anthropocene also teach us to be wary of some of this language, borrowed from the Enlightenment tradition, “distinctly ­human capacities for ethical and po­liti­cal freedom, creativity, unbounded reflection, or invention.” I endorse Brown’s general point that democracy ­ought to help us secure time and energy for activities outside of ­labor that include “invention,” “freedom,” and so on. But the triumphant humanism of ­these ­grand terms is strained in a posthumanist framework. The need to pile up qualifiers around the terms “true realm of freedom” rather than just “freedom” suggests a mea­sure of mystification and a sense that t­hese accounts of the purpose of life are not good enough.63 Such claims raise crucial questions that are explored in this volume of essays: Reflection about what? Invention of what? For what? It is also crucial to underscore how this Enlightenment framing around freedom hinges on the existence of slavery, excusing a discourse of “freedom” and “­free ­labor” that runs contrary to the importance of community, solidarity, and interdependence,64 a topic that I treat at greater length in chapter 3. In other words, ­there is reason to advance values of care (including self-­care) in addition to, or even rather than, freedom. Similarly, it is worth registering the problematic “workism” in Brown, echoing Aristotle, Arendt, and Marx, that freedom “did not mean luxury, leisure, or indulgence.”65 This familiar wariness about leisure reiterates the core questions of purpose and the set of values connected to it, which might in fact, for example, point t­ oward something like a luxury or indulgence of time or an excess of care as prevailing values.66 Indeed, questions of purpose are at the heart of Brown’s argument and her summary of such luminaries as Aristotle, Arendt, and Marx. What is the purpose of life? The Anthropocene requires us to reopen such questions in a serious way.67 Brown’s somewhat traditional, self-­consciously humanist approach to ­these questions of purpose may betray some of her hopes. For instance, one reason the economy has increasingly dominated the sense of purpose in modern democracy is precisely b­ ecause other familiar (often humanist) forms of finding meaning, such as or­ga­nized religion, have steadily eroded. Federico Campagna, for example, speculates that work fills the cultural void left by religion, becoming a focus for our beliefs and our faith. Even though we have the technological capacity to work far less, he writes, “the discourse over Work is now more obsessive [than] ever.”68 Humanism is similarly, and deservingly, ­under critique in posthumanism, ecocriticism, and related fields, and from a dif­fer­ent ­angle in Black critical theory. Many of us are increasingly skeptical of ­these ­grand ideas of “unbounded reflection” or “true freedom.” Importantly, in a footnote to the passage quoted above, Brown notes that Aristotle’s conception of freedom from want in the good life helped to create “an unfree order, one based on slavery, gender, and class domination, and divided humanity between ­those condemned to mere life and ­those f­ree to pursue the good life.” Thus, this concept has often been used, even ­today, to secure hierarchies that value


Rya n Hediger

only some forms of life. This is a significant prob­lem with her account of purpose. However, Brown contrasts Aristotle with Marx, who borrowed Aristotle’s concept to articulate “a premise for liberation: all ­humans should be emancipated from mere life for the good life.”69 It can feel easy to celebrate this aim, but the framework remains caught up in the dialectic of freedom/slavery. As Graeber argues, many of our current conditions of work are themselves founded on ideas and practices developed in slavery,70 though this history is rarely acknowledged. But even if all ­humans are to be emancipated, who or what slaves ­will guarantee them access to the good life? If past is prologue, we can suppose nonhumans are the answer. They can remain our slaves. CAFOs—­confined animal feeding operations—­ forests as standing reserves, and so on. Importantly, this logic of slavery extends beyond life to include minerals: fossil fuels have often been understood historically as a replacement for ­human slavery, in effect enslaving carbon “reserves” in the same oppressive cultural logic.71 While one may protest that the oil or coal does not mind being harnessed, the planetary consequences of such carbon regimes—­and nuclear power regimes—­are becoming painfully clearer by the day. And extracting carbon takes work. In other words, our carbon imaginary is ontologically flawed, and t­ hose flaws have real-­world effects. Rejecting this scenario, Morton writes Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman ­People, arguing for a significant reconception of traditional forms of l­abor solidarity, which have tended to exclude the nonhuman. Morton exposes the fallacy of that exclusive approach, arguing that, fi­nally, “solidarity implies nonhumans. Solidarity requires nonhumans. Solidarity just is solidarity with nonhumans.”72 That impulse is pursued in vari­ous ways in this essay collection, as in Sinan Akıllı’s chapter on h­ orses, and we also often pursue Morton’s more radical suggestions about frames of value outside ­labor.

Work as Slow Vio­lence Morton’s argument in Humankind, like much of his scholarship, reverses the common idea that concerns about the environment and the nonhuman are merely peripheral to the serious work of ­human life. Instead, Morton underscores that relationships with nonhumans are unavoidably central to life, indeed that such concerns are ontological, about how to understand real­ity itself.73 And recourse to “real­ity” and the inevitability of one t­hing or another are common in debates about work and environment. For instance, they animate the essay “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?’ Work and Nature,” by Richard White, a prominent environmental and U.S. historian. His piece effectively encapsulates the need for the arguments in this essay collection, in part b­ ecause White expresses well many of the prevailing ideas about work and its necessity. As the basic premise of his article, he states, “We need to reexamine the connections between work and nature.”74 We agree. White further claims that “as long as environmentalism refuses to engage questions of modern work and ­labor,” many environmentalists’ goals ­will falter and “our ­children, in the end, ­will suffer.”75 Again, hear, hear. But the thrust

Introduction 13

of White’s argument other­wise runs contrary to the orientation of this introduction and collection of essays. This mixture of shared interest but often-­opposed conclusions makes White’s article worth engaging at some length to exemplify what is at stake in ­these questions. White exposes flaws in common rhe­toric among environmentalists, arguing that demonizing the blue-­collar work carried out by loggers, miners, and the like is an unwise and unrealistic approach. I am sympathetic with that case. But this collection’s proj­ect requires us to turn that point around to ask how norms and scripts of work have damaged not only the environment but also the workers themselves. A central problematic ele­ment of White’s case is that he simply accepts and reiterates the notion that “most h­ umans must work.”76 He thus reiterates the seemingly practical fact and widely naturalized view of real­ity that this collection calls into question. At the very least, we must ask: What sort of work and ­under what terms? But, more essentially, a wide-­frame view of history suggests that work has gone from being a brief, focused activity to a universalized value, a moral system, a trans-­civilizational aspiration. White associates his case with a more rigorous version of history. However, ­there are multiple ways to historicize, and the perspective produced via Anthropocene discourse makes another view pos­si­ble, exposing his history as selective (as all histories must be). In brief, his argument is saturated in a “workist” treatment of ­human life and purpose,77 also the dominant neoliberal view, when it is clear from anthropology and other fields that for the vast majority of h­ uman history, as discussed above, we did not in fact need to work, not in so many words. That is, it is not clear that we should understand h­ uman activities such as hunting and gathering as “work” or ­labor. Or, at the very least, let us designate this question as a hinge in questions of purpose. From one stance, the extraordinarily widespread belief that work is inevitable is both the product and the essential cause of modernity, with work norms enacting slow vio­lence. The term “slow vio­lence” is developed by Rob Nixon in Slow Vio­lence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. He defines it as “a vio­lence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a vio­lence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional vio­lence that is typically not viewed as vio­lence at all.”78 Work norms fit this definition well, as they are customarily not seen as violent (except in cases of ­labor rebellions, for example); instead, l­abor is valorized as the essence of productivity, of purpose. In this collection, when we denaturalize the norms around work, we help reveal the ways in which they are harmful both to workers and to the planet. For example, in chapter 6 on the Unisphere, James Armstrong shows how conceptions of the planet, the “globe,” are carefully bound with a logic of transformation and conquest. Naming this transformation as slow vio­lence undermines the cele­brations of work and commerce in modernity as the alternatives to vio­lence, instead underscoring how they are vio­ lence by other means. Framed in this way, the slow vio­lence of work norms appears as another of modernity’s internal contradictions, aiming to end vio­lence by


Rya n Hediger

inaugurating an alternative form of vio­lence, the kind of modern contradiction emphasized by Armstrong in his chapter. Another historical claim in White’s essay is worth revisiting. He challenges, if not in ­these terms, the Golden Age fallacy, disputing the common argument that “work is a fall from grace. In the beginning no one labored.”79 He further summarizes the specifically racial or ethnic tinge of this argument: “In North Amer­i­ca, whites are the b­ earers of environmental original sin, b­ ecause whites alone are recognized as laboring.”80 He c­ ounters in this way: “Over the last two de­cades academic historians have produced a respectable body of work on ­humans and the environment in North Amer­i­ca that concentrates on how Indian ­peoples ­shaped the natu­ral world they lived in.”81 This is an impor­tant point, but his treatment of it stops too soon. For one ­thing, note the switch in terminology, from “work” to “­shaped.” Yes, Indian ­peoples, like all p­ eoples and like all animals (we are all animals), “shape” the world they live in, but that is not the same ­thing as “work,” “­labor,” which is a systematized organ­ization of time, energy, and activity that has a specific history and ­ideology. Indeed, we know that ­human—­and prehuman—­use of fire significantly reshaped landscapes, as David L. Rodland discusses in chapter 1 in this volume. But the use of fire in many ways runs contrary to landscape transformations wrought by modern work, in which day-­to-­day, hour-­to-­hour activities are informed by a rigorous disciplinary regime. By contrast, although fires need to be carefully planned, they involve sparking largely nonhuman forces to do the transformation themselves, with far less ­human work. Indeed, it is often precisely Euro-­American conceptions of “work” per se, with their very specific racial and ethnic overlays, that Native ­peoples have resisted in the face of imperialism around the world, a point I argue at greater length in chapter 3.82 This contested imperial history, at the very core of modernity, underscores the need for much more calibrated, varied, and denaturalized understandings of work. White recognizes that the status of work is a delicate issue b­ ecause the hierarchical position of dif­fer­ent cultural and civilizational systems is at stake. He exposes the tacit, often unacknowledged racism that frequently underlies the idea that Indians w ­ ere innocent inhabitants of the land. If Whites alone l­abor, then “whites are thus also, by the same token, the only real ­bearers of history. This is why our flattery (for it is usually intended to be such) of ‘simpler’ ­peoples is an act of im­mense condescension.”83 However, White’s argument misses the possibility of recognizing both the changes wrought to the landscape by Indian ­peoples and noting—­though cultural traditions vary considerably, of course—­that “work” plays a very dif­fer­ent role in their lifeways. Indeed, I am suggesting that we may not consider many such undertakings to be “work” at all. While accounts of the “ecological Indian” are often facile and deserve criticism,84 we cannot thereby surrender very real cultural differences between Indian ­peoples and White ­peoples in terms of work and conduct ­toward the environment. White’s move has the effect of arguing that the only way for a culture to escape condescension is to be understood in the same terms as “white” culture, terms or­ga­nized around the White

Introduction 15

obsession with “work.” This move in turn functions to undermine cultural difference radically, instead reiterating what I am calling one of the most power­ful ethics of colonial imperialism: the need to work. Cultural difference is collapsed back into the naturalized script of “work.” In effect, then, despite his valuable inquiry, in one sense White’s argument functions as an armature of continued imperialism, one that harms not only the environment and Indigenous ­peoples but also many of the “whites” who wield and reinforce the system. The continued function of the omnipresent ideology of work is vis­i­ble in another thread of White’s argument. He challenges a theme he identifies in environmental writing, in which “pretend” histories are written about “the first white man [who] always enters an untouched paradise,” a “paradise before ­labor.”85 (Again, to be clear, White uses such terminology mockingly, to expose what he sees as an ultimately condescending thread in environmentalist writing.) ­These “first white men” such as Lewis and Clark are bad examples for White ­because, in fact, they w ­ ere themselves engaging the environment in terms of work. He writes, as an ostensible coup de grâce for his case: “Their l­ abor gives them their most intimate knowledge of the country.”86 Yes, with emphasis on “their” in both cases. But clearly Lewis and Clark, what­ever their personal decencies and weaknesses, w ­ ere engaged in an imperialist enterprise of exploring, mapping, and preparing for settlement an already inhabited territory. They ­were working, ­because in agrilogistics and capitalism, that is what ­people do.87 ­These systems of approaching the world require work much of the time. It is true that Lewis and Clark, and anyone e­ lse, can learn about the world, the environment, from work, but that certainly does not mean it is the only or the best way to learn about the world. In other words, White’s argument is circular. He shows Lewis and Clark to be mostly invested in norms of work, meaning to show that this proves work is necessary. But in fact this point demonstrates that Lewis and Clark functioned as an armature of an extraordinarily violent and effective version of work scripting. Yes, they ­were obsessed with work—­because their culture required it of them. That is what they ­were hired to do. This is how power­ful, naturalized ideologies continue to function, of course. We think we are seeing real­ity directly, but in fact, all the time, we are seeing it through the prism of an ideology, in this case, the necessity of “work.” It is impor­tant to pause ­here and reiterate that I am not arguing that Indigenous ­peoples are somehow s­imple (in fact, quite the reverse), nor am I questioning the body of scholarship White cites to show that Indian p­ eoples have impacted and continue to impact the lands where they live. Instead, I am insisting on significant cultural differences—­which I do not mean to oversimplify or reify88—­that permit us to recognize real distinctions between and among cultures in terms of work norms and larger goals. White goes further, arguing that even play is ­really modeled on work. Every­ thing is work. This leads him, for example, to challenge pity for circus animals as “misplaced,” ­because he claims circus animals actually profit from the work they do.89 H ­ ere the naturalization of work takes a classic form, applied to animals who


Rya n Hediger

are understood as needing to work, as incomplete when they do not do so. But White’s challenge to “play” can also be challenged; if even play gets collapsed back into work, we can reply, then this demonstrates the overwhelming force of work norms, a force clearly vis­i­ble in the circus.90 We can do nothing that is f­ree of work. This view is contested by Whitman, Schor, Hunnicutt, Graeber, Weeks, and so many other minority voices attempting to think outside the slow vio­lence of ­labor. It is related to the growing intellectual movement, largely located in Eu­rope at this point, emphasizing the hopes and possibilities of “degrowth,” of resisting the power­ful logic of endless growth driving so many economic and social policies. Instead, advocates of degrowth argue, h­ uman and nonhuman flourishing should be connected to other values.91

Why Take Leisure Seriously? What other values? White’s point about play chimes with this collection’s engagement with leisure. In some ways, this case is more difficult to make at first. For many, leisure smacks of be­hav­iors and orientations that are opposite to the grave concerns of environmental catastrophe. Leisure can seem elitist and privileged. As Cross notes, leisure has often escaped the notice of scholars for whom it is unserious, and it has often “seemed to be a threat to the work ethic.”92 Thinking with and through leisure might seem even more irresponsible, then. However, leisure is another very power­ful lever in con­temporary times. In leisure, practically every­one can at least glimpse, can at least taste, can at least begin to experience other modes of being that are by design outside of ­labor. ­Labor, despite its outsize power over our lives, does not reach into ­every corner of them. Thus Jennifer Wren Atkinson, summarizing several scholars, notes how leisure and fantasy can reveal “precisely that which is missing or deficient in a­ ctual life.”93 Recognizing the presence of other norms and standards outside of work is a bit like the posthumanist position that the nonhuman is absolutely everywhere already and that our lives have always been intertwined with the nonhuman, ­whether we acknowledge it or not.94 Similarly, leisure practices display widely extant but deemphasized values. What­ever one’s po­liti­cal persuasion, the appeal of leisure is clear and real, and this can be understood as a kind of reservoir of potential that we can begin to f­ ree from its holding pen of work scripts. A crucial point about the framing concepts of this book must thus be reiterated. The distinction between ­labor and leisure is itself widely understood as a product of cap­it­ al­ist modernity, as noted above. The distinction was a result of the steady pro­cess of disciplining the workforce by disciplining our sense of time.95 It is therefore neither natu­ral nor inevitable. Yet this book reiterates it. Why? ­Because in order to be intelligible and to have an impact, we have to work with at least some of the prevailing terms even as we aim to unwork them. Ultimately, we suggest undermining or complicating the labor/leisure distinction, seeing it as one more tool that facilitates the pro­cesses and activities that

Introduction 17

have led to the Anthropocene. This effort to unsettle the labor/leisure difference is vis­i­ble in many of this book’s chapters, especially Adams’s and Rey’s. In this sense, the book sometimes expresses something like a premodern sensibility about time, one that understands time as “the milieu in which [we] live,” to borrow E. P. Thompson’s words,96 rather than as an entity that approximates money, something that must be “saved,” “spent wisely,” and so on. Indeed, this rethinking of time is part of the widespread notion in Anthropocene thought that we need to use dif­fer­ent—­ often much wider—­temporal frames to understand our current situation on Earth. That wide temporal framing applies not only to our understandings of what “nature” is but also to what culture is. And though this proposal is radical and involves a rethinking of time and experience themselves, the proposal is also consonant with many ideas that already have currency in the culture, even if t­ hose ideas tend not to question the categories of analy­sis as I am d­ oing ­here. For instance, holidays and festivals still preserve something of alternative temporalities, undermining the commodified, modern sense of time. And the subculture of gap years for high school gradu­ates, taking retirement time (or sabbatical) while young and in the midst of a ­career, and much more—­they all express a similar cultural desire to rework our con­temporary treatment of time.97 As argued above, the predominant views of work as fundamentally, inherently moral make it difficult to recognize the many alternative conceptions of work across time and space. But t­ here are many. Sweet and Meiksins note that “subsistence economies operate on the basis of cultural assumptions that work is primarily a means to an end, so that once individuals have enough food and shelter, ­labor is expected to cease.”98 Hunnicutt, who has been questioning norms of work in his scholarship for some four de­cades, discusses the widespread feeling in the past among “prominent figures such as John Maynard Keynes, Julian Huxley, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher” that “well before the twentieth ­century ended, a Golden Age of Leisure would arrive, when no one would have to work more than two hours a day.”99 What puzzles Hunnicutt is not merely that such changes did not come to pass, but that even the public desire for them seems to have evaporated. Power­ful ­labor ideologies indeed. While historicizing ­these trends, Hunnicutt advocates a return to what he calls “the other, better half of the American dream,” an emphasis on life beyond l­ abor that resembles some of Brown’s points discussed above (with some of the same prob­ lems). He adopts Walt Whitman’s term “higher pro­gress” (from Demo­cratic Vistas) to name this set of hopes, an alternative to the “workism” that tends to dominate ­today.100 He summarizes his case in his conclusion that “the traditional American dream needs to be re-­presented as a compelling and inspiring alternative to the current dream of eternal consumption, wealth, and work that now threatens ­human communities and the natu­ral world.” ­Going on, in a passage worth quoting at some length, Hunnicutt writes: “What is needed now is a reassessment of what work, wealth, and power are for. We need to ask again if t­ here is something better than living to work. We need to relearn that Amer­ic­ a once stood for better ­things than eternally


Rya n Hediger

increasing wealth, everlasting consumerism, and unending extensions of its might and power. We need an inspiring alternative to the environmentalists’ austerity proposal, that all should live parsimonious lives.”101 For Hunnicutt, that alternative exists in a vision of “Higher Pro­gress as a wealth of time to live,” a pithy and resonant way to put it. Such formulations ­counter the anxiety about excess and plea­sure mentioned by Brown, discussed above. Hunnicutt connects that dream with a deeper recognition of the value of experience itself and with the importance of “deep community” in a shared “ ‘spirit of intimacy,’ ” recruiting this wording from the industrial feminist Fanni Cohn much as he makes use of Walt Whitman’s phrase “higher pro­gress” and of many existing good ideas from U.S. history.102 Crucially, of course, any such embrace of American po­liti­cal history needs to be tempered with awareness of—­and a­ ctual territorial responses to—­Indigenous displacement at the heart of the United States. Still, Hunnicutt’s account resonates with the point underscored by Stevphen Shukaitis that “the opposite of work is neither leisure or idleness but instead ‘autonomous and collective activity.’ ”103 Shukaitis emphasizes that a move beyond work as life’s central purpose is not automatic; it must be learned and developed in a culture that would move beyond the workism that dominates our moment. The essays in this volume engage in such a learning proj­ect in a range of ways. Rather than accepting that our purpose might be “the true realm of freedom,” in the words of Brown, I reiterate that purpose is precisely what is at issue not only in questions of neoliberalism but also in questions of l­ abor. Further, the Anthropocene as a temporal organ­ization of experience puts questions of purpose into stark relief, pointing ­toward a blasphemy: We do not have a purpose, at least not in the teleological sense. We have a more local purpose, though, which is living, taking care of the living and the landscapes associated with life: “caring for Country” is the way Jo Anne Rey terms it in this volume. That is the circle in which we live, a kind of tautology—­the purpose of life is life—­part of why it can be hard to face.104 Another difficulty is that settler cultures cannot simply adopt key Indigenous notions like Rey’s, in light of the terrible history of appropriation. But perhaps something like what we might call a “diplomacy criticism” can permit learning across what Stephanie LeManager terms “incommensurable” cultural differences.105 In other words, we emphasize a difference in accent ­here: care for community and ­others versus Brown’s goal discussed above, a pursuit of “true freedom.” Certainly they need not be mutually exclusive goals—­care for o­ thers partly involves defending their freedom—­but they do lead in dif­fer­ent directions. It is precisely such exercises of “true freedom” that have tended to aggregate into qualities we call the Anthropocene. Thus, I find additional guidance through t­ hese prob­lems of neoliberalism in Morton. Even though he is not directly talking about Brown, ­here is his tart reply to the kind of thinking represented by the Brown quotation: “To be ‘fully h­ uman’—­what a drag. We seem to have been trying that for twelve thousand years.”106 For Morton, the point is to refuse another anxious reiteration of ­human exceptionalism and high purpose, instead coming to terms with what he

Introduction 19

calls “a purpose of no-­purpose.”107 In using this phrase, Morton is discussing beauty and, eventually, evolution and DNA, which are not teleological. They do not have already determined end points. Instead, Morton suggests, evolution is more like play. It is open experimentation with the stuff of life.108 Since play is both utterly crucial—it literally comprises life—­and in some sense without purpose (hence “play”), it is aptly understood as deep play, which is a kind of oxymoron. If life itself is a kind of deep play, we can bear to think of the much less significant real­ity of l­ abor as deep play. This is profound, but also somewhat comic. The sense that h­ uman life m ­ atters a bit less than we commonly believe is, in part, a central ele­ment of posthumanist rhe­toric aiming to decenter the ­human. But it also resonates with arguments in postmodernism and, more recently, in queer theory, which emphasizes feelings of “irony” and “playfulness” as well as “absurdity, camp, frivolity, indecorum, ambivalence, and glee.”109 With this paradigm shift, many other changes for culture, environment, and life become pos­si­ble. In the near term, it could guide the recasting of more ordinary norms like the forty-­hour week, the standard length of vacation time, the purpose of education at all levels, and so on. In the bigger picture, it could be part of a significant recasting of the purposes and goals of ­humans on Earth, as the Anthropocene requires us to do. It is worth pausing ­here to mention a few caveats, though: I am not arguing that we should immediately abandon all work. I also do not believe that we can significantly revise ­labor norms in time to slow climate change. For that very near-­term goal, we need to focus relentlessly on energy sourcing.110 Further, I do not expect that leisure is inherently ecologically benign.111 As signaled above, leisure practices borrow much from the larger cultural logic of work that dominates capitalism, and leisure practices often tend to involve consumption of resources on a large scale.112 The point of engaging leisure in this argument is to facilitate a shift in cultural values away from the prevailing sense that worker and the world must be transformed to fit a certain vision of h­ uman life that involves ever-­growing economies and forms of productivity. Leisure, by contrast, often prizes not so much transformation of the world but enjoyment of time and space, and sometimes a kind of counterforce transformation of the self. Th ­ ose are impor­tant cultural recalibrations ­going forward. It is clear how far afield this account of ­labor takes us. One way to put it is that, to restate, this rethinking of work seems unrealistic. Of course, that is so precisely ­because, as Brown points out in Undoing the Demos, our concepts of what is realistic and even what is real­ity are profoundly informed by the economic logic that drives our society.113 I underscore the circularity of this thinking. That is precisely why we are arguing in this collection that we need to rethink ­labor. As Naomi Klein has done in This Changes Every­thing,114 we are looking at the Anthropocene as not so much as an opportunity to rethink fundamental norms about our lives, but as an utter necessity. The advent of the Anthropocene demonstrates clearly and forcefully that our concepts of “normal,” “realistic,” “moral,” and so on must all be seriously revisited.


Rya n Hediger

But perhaps such notions do reach beyond “deep play” to something ­else. Morton uses the term “subscendence” to name what he advocates for in Dark Ecol­ogy and then again in Humankind, not regarding ­labor, but regarding our attitude ­toward the world more generally. He describes subscendence as “the inverse of ‘transcendence’ ” and the opposite of “immanence.”115 Subscendence involves the deliberate shift of attention back into a newly estranged world, consciously rejoining the rest of its entities. It is a humbling, posthumanist move, a way of recognizing how, in a sense, “the w ­ hole is less than the sum of its parts” insofar as ­those parts are themselves complex and robust entities.116 Subscendence is strange b­ ecause it refuses to familiarize or naturalize the world, recognizing instead the sheer alterity of “real­ity.” We might also call this a reenchantment of the world.117 Such a reenchantment appears in vari­ous ways in the following chapters, treating activities like walking, skiing, and making art. Th ­ ese undertakings often slow time to a pause and involve a strange evacuation of purpose replaced by a fullness of presence, of nowness stretched out.118 How about t­ hese as tentative—­always tentative—­goals for ­labor? Subscendence, reenchantment, and deep play, motivated not by profit but by care. Certainly not every­one w ­ ill adopt them, but if they work, they can gather attention, modeling real-­world actions rather than just theories. Instead of chasing the white rabbit of pro­gress at any cost—­human, environmental, and general—we could do more to find our actions, our tasks, and especially our relationships to be compelling and strange in and of themselves. They are their own rewards.

Summary of the Book This book is or­ga­nized around its three central concepts: the Anthropocene, ­labor, and leisure. While e­ very chapter engages with all three concepts in some sense, each section brings a dif­fer­ent term to the fore. The first two chapters raise power­ful questions about Anthropocene framings. As the essays show, t­ hose questions are not incidentally but essentially connected to questions of ­labor. Section 2 focuses primarily on work and especially the logic of extraction, as discussed in Yusoff’s book A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. The logic of extraction contrasts sharply with the focus in section  3: care, or privileging relationships over production. Extraction versus care echoes a familiar binary, for instance, as in feminist discourses that have long advocated an ethics of care. Indeed, Richard Grusin, introducing Anthropocene Feminism and defending a notion of “Anthropocene” that underscores the serious environmental h­ azards of the pre­sent, claims that “the concept of the Anthropocene has arguably been implicit in feminism and queer theory for de­cades, a genealogy that is largely ignored, or, worse, erased by the masculine authority of an institutional scientific discourse that now seeks to name our current historical moment the Anthropocene.”119 Our collection, by ranging across a number of theoretical framings and areas of inquiry, demonstrates how that binary of extraction versus care can be engaged to rethink cultural values and

Introduction 21

practices in day-­to-­day life. To do so convincingly, we believe, we first need to better understand how this tension has animated a range of practices and realities across time and space, to recognize harmful practices and to identify more hopeful patterns. Our goal is not to add another competing definition of the Anthropocene; rather, we emphasize how work ethics and ­labor norms lie at the heart of the historical events imperfectly named by that term, an emphasis that has appeared too ­little in scholarship. More particularly, we scrutinize norms and be­hav­iors within specific historical and theoretical frameworks, including Indigenous studies, animal studies, critical race studies, agrarian studies, feminism, and leisure studies. While essay collections and monographs exist that emphasize one of t­ hose areas, such as Anthropocene Feminism, or Anthropocene or Capitalocene? or Animals in the Anthropocene, no study exists that investigates the impact of work norms across theoretical framings as we do ­here.120 Moore’s scholarship does reckon with multiple theoretical frameworks, discussing, for example, vital materialism, but he sometimes does so to dismiss ­those perspectives.121 By contrast, our method ­here is via addition, on the premise asserted by Tobias Menley and Jesse Oak Taylor that no single approach can account for the complexity of the prob­lems gathered ­under the Anthropocene banner;122 we aim to show how multiple theoretical perspectives accumulate, each contributing in its own way, to show how “the strug­gle over the grip of commodification is, in the first instance, a contest between contending visions of life and work,” as Moore puts it.123 Moore recognizes in passing in that section of his text that meaningful re­sis­tance must be local as well as systematic or global; many localized forms of re­sis­tance can be power­ful and generative, a point brought out, for instance, in the chapters by Ted Geier, Amanda Adams, ­Will Elliot and Kevin Maier, and Jo Anne Rey. While “work” and “­labor” are keywords in this volume, we resist putting bound­ aries around them too firmly or clearly, in part ­because the question of what constitutes work, and what should constitute it, is revisited in vari­ous ways in practically ­every chapter. Sometimes “work” is closest to slavery, a brutal regime of activity enforced by direct vio­lence; at other times, as in chapter 9 by Jennifer K. Ladino and chapter 11 by Jo Anne Rey, it almost escapes familiar definitions of l­ abor, coming closer to deep play. But in general, we do mean “work” and “­labor” to be roughly synonymous with and to correspond to relatively routine con­temporary understandings of the words. To summarize the collection’s arguments more specifically: the first two chapters raise questions about Anthropocene framings in two distinct ways, via science and then via the environmental humanities. The paleoecologist David L. Rodland (chapter 1) surveys the sweep of the geological past, including ­human prehistory, to underscore the vast number of changes the planet has under­gone, putting more recent concerns into a much wider context. Rodland suggests that naming the pre­sent epoch the Anthropocene may be misguided, and he remarks that perhaps an Anthropocene age within the Holocene would be better, even as he emphasizes


Rya n Hediger

the grave environmental and social ­hazards of our moment, especially underscoring economic in­equality. In chapter 2, Ted Geier uses critical theory and a number of recent, environmentally themed films to insist that much of the response to environmental catastrophe, including seemingly radical films and some of the scholarship gathered u­ nder the title “Anthropocene,” is more performative morality than effective response. Emphasizing the hubris of Anthropocene framings, he shows that such approaches to the planet reinforce the objectification of life and environment, rendering Earth as “a corpse, a ­dying object produced by ­humans,” indeed, an “already dead” entity. Instead of such framings, he calls for much more fundamental change to cap­i­tal­ist systems. Ultimately, despite their dif­fer­ent focuses, both essays insist on the need to choose alternative ­futures with much more equitable access to entities often called “resources.” Sections 2 and 3 proceed chronologically but function more in episodic than linear fashion. Section 2, focused on ­labor and extraction, begins with my treatment of slavery and forced l­ abor since Christopher Columbus’s voyages (chapter 3). Relying on historiography and critical race theory, it reiterates how systematic vio­lence is at the heart of the work norms consolidated during the period since Columbus and increasingly naturalized as unavoidable. Resisting oversimplifying accounts of history as progressive, the chapter also unsettles the distinction between slavery and ostensibly f­ ree l­ abor that structures much progressive historiography, emphasizing how compulsion remains central to the social contract around work. In chapter 4, Sinan Akıllı investigates how nonhuman presences, particularly animal ones, relate to questions of l­abor. First theorizing a general biosemiotics approach to meaning, he then uses an animal studies frame to investigate the relationship between the novel as a form and the move from animal-­powered l­ abor to mechanized replacements. Akıllı demonstrates how, despite ­these changes, the ­horse in par­tic­ul­ ar continued to perform ­actual ­labor in the fields, and ideological and intellectual l­ abor in the archive of the En­glish novel, in texts such as Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. In a sense, he puts the h­ orse before the novel in an animal studies reversal of familiar frames of interpretation. Showing the h­ orse to be at the very center of the tradition of the novel, one of the key genres of modernity, Akıllı thereby helps unravel the human/animal distinction. That distinction has been a key organ­izing feature of the logic of work in capitalism, facilitating not only animal domestication, animal husbandry, and, fi­nally, industrial animal agriculture but also the ­whole rhe­toric of animality as it was (and is) used to facilitate slavery, a massively impor­tant blueprint for con­temporary ideas of work. In chapter  5, Daniel Clausen pursues a related topic in a dif­fer­ent context, studying radical experiments in U.S. agrarianism in the nineteenth ­century, tracing the complex dynamics of race and work, focusing especially on Frederick Douglass and John Burroughs. He shows that many visions of American agrarianism w ­ ere explic­itly connected to racism, an ostensibly naturalized White relationship to farming, yet Clausen contrasts t­ hose visions with the competing accounts

Introduction 23

of Black agrarianism that reached back to Africa for historical models and pre­ce­ dents. In this historical tension, Clausen finds a compelling model for thinking about agrarianism more cautiously, with both greater recognition of its potential—­ and ­actual—­vio­lence ­toward ­humans and nonhumans alike, and with an effort to move beyond an extraction-­based, white supremacist model of production. His chapter thus challenges—or adds nuance to—­more sweeping treatments of agriculture like Morton’s in Dark Ecol­ogy. An increasingly globalized food supply in the twentieth ­century is one key to the technocratic globalism investigated by James Armstrong in chapter  6. His essay reveals the fractures in the notion of a unified globe by studying the figure of the Unisphere, a stainless-­steel globe sculpture used in the 1964–1965 World’s Fair (depicted ­under construction on the cover of this volume). This globe and the fair it represented ­were used to epitomize and speculate on an ideal ­future of leisurely life and easy work on a planet u­ nder complete ­human control. Yet Armstrong shows how this consolidating icon hides a number of contradictions. The Unisphere unifies, deanimates, and objectifies the real­ity of a more complex Earth, obscuring the contemporaneous discoveries of planet Earth’s complex variability in terms of the atmosphere, climate change, continental drift, and so on. Contrary to the reductive Unisphere, the ­actual planet was being understood in ever more fractured and complex terms, even as the consumer economy that helped produce the Unisphere intensified the Anthropocene. A complex and variable planet is akin to—­and contributes to production of—­the more complex realities of ­labor that underlie idealistic visions of work. In chapter 7, Matt Wanat, comparing Wendell Berry’s novel Hannah Coulter (2004) to Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day (2006), exposes how the promise of a better life for the next generation, through work, runs contrary to the realities of life in both texts. Wanat shows how the Unisphere-­esque dream of ease and improvement in the ­future actually serves to separate youthful generations from their parents and their communities of meaning, thereby isolating them from meaningful frames of life. In this way, Wanat argues, the norms of work involve false and damaging promises (the way that the Unisphere does), demonstrating how the universalizing, homogenizing logic of extraction victimizes h­ umans and nonhumans alike. Having gestured at ways of rethinking the logic of ­labor, the book’s third section offers a rereading of ostensible leisure practices as other than peripheral, again reaching back into the past in order to come forward chronologically. In chapter 8, Amanda Adams shows how ­women’s walking in the nineteenth ­century, seemingly a recreational practice, offered a radically dif­fer­ent mode of engaging with the landscape and performing selfhood than the common modes prevailing in regimes of ­labor often dominated by men. As Akıllı does with ­horses, Adams reverses common frames of interpretation to locate walking at the center of analy­ sis and work at the periphery. In discussing Dorothy Words­worth and Harriet Martineau, Adams demonstrates how their practices of walking unsettle the labor/leisure distinction as they produce new human/nonhuman intimacies.


Rya n Hediger

In chapter 9, Jennifer K. Ladino, like Adams, hesitates over the labor/leisure distinction, investigating how the l­abor of love performed by workers in the National Park Ser­vice facilitates an impor­tant set of leisure practices by the U.S. public. Ladino explores Park Ser­v ice work as a distinctly dif­fer­ent model of what ­labor might be in the Anthropocene, as priorities could shift from endless commodification, ­labor, and economic growth to an economy focused on relationships among ­humans, and between ­humans and nonhumans. Central to that model is a rethinking of regimes of time: Ladino emphasizes the “slow” qualities of ranger work. Pushing the focus more resolutely t­ oward leisure, in chapter 10, W ­ ill Elliot and Kevin Maier show how forms of recreation can be engaged to deepen embodied understandings of, and relationships with, nonhuman places, even as recreation can catalyze impor­tant defenses of the nonhuman. Focusing especially on snow sports and skiing and the climate activism or­ga­nized around them by Jeremy Jones and his organ­ization Protect Our Winters, or POW, they make an arresting case for how skiing and other leisure activities can be an embodied practice of precarity, the vulnerability of life that has been scaled up to the planet level in the Anthropocene. In this framework, thoughtful skiing is far from escapist; instead, it is a concrete way to explore and come to terms with what it means to live, rather than die, in an endangered biosphere. Like the essays in section 1 showing how modes of thinking globally tacitly authorize par­tic­ul­ar ideologies and practices of l­abor, modes related to what Morton calls “agrilogistics,” Elliot and Maier’s essay shows how rethinking familiar logics like the labor/leisure distinction has the power to orient the cultural changes necessary in the long-­term crisis of the Anthropocene. In chapter 11, Jo Anne Rey concludes section 3 by demonstrating how the Dharug First ­People in Australia resist the traumas of encroaching colonialism and enact cultural resilience by reiterating the importance of placed cultural stories. This involves “Goanna walking,” walking between binaries on the model of monitor lizards indigenous to Australia. Dramatically widening the temporal frame to think at the scale of tens of thousands of years, she shares ele­ments of a long-­vital cultural tradition that agrees with what Schor notes, discussed above: the labor/ leisure distinction has not always been so rigorously clear, so carefully policed. Instead, foregrounding the importance of fundamental cultural values, Rey shows that maintaining relationships with ­human and nonhuman ­people is essential “work,” in a sense, and is a concrete way to unravel the hierarchies of value in labor-­intensive capitalism more generally, capitalism being a system of organ­izing ­human life that, as Tsing notes in the passage quoted above, isolates and alienates ­humans and nonhumans alike. By contrast, Rey emphasizes togetherness in cultural practices that are alive, active, and engaged, rather than fixed in some nostalgic, unchanging past. How might such thinking change the work of/in universities? In a Coda to the volume, Sharon O’Dair criticizes the logic of neoliberal work as it informs and radically changes institutions of higher learning in the modern United States.

Introduction 25

Vigorously insisting on the need to uproot the entrenched valorization of economic growth more generally, she illustrates her case with a personal narrative that puts her entire ­career in perspective, thinking with a larger temporal unit (a career-­ length one) than is common in quarterly-­report-­oriented cap­it­al­ist economies. O’Dair argues that intellectual activity should resist the neoliberal logics of endless growth and relentless metrics. Instead, she argues, a revival of work as craft is in order, translating the larger questions of this collection into the terms of the work practiced by many of its likely readers. O’Dair’s essay resonates with themes in chapters across the collection, from the challenges of economic in­equality explored by Rodland and Geier, to the remodeling of work explored by Wanat, Clausen, Akıllı, and me, to questions of time and purpose investigated by Adams, Ladino, Elliot and Maier, and Rey, in a planetary imaginary explored by Armstrong. ­These topics and methods range widely. They w ­ ere selected to address many of the most significant ele­ments of inquiries about work—­slavery, animals, futurity, and technology—­and to consider a range of concerns in leisure, including walking, parks, and sports, concluding with a consideration of academic c­ areers. But clearly, it is not pos­si­ble even to approach a comprehensive treatment of ­these questions. Instead, our primary hope is to use a range of inquiries to break the spell of ­labor norms on “planet work” in several domains, opening room for new explorations and new/old possibilities. Employing a range of theoretical frames to study a variety of scenarios, as we do, models the importance of particularity on ­these m ­ atters. Changes happen in specific places in specific ways. In addition to the specificities facilitated by environmental humanities perspectives, this volume demonstrates that considerations of ­labor and economics must be subjected to questions of values that are central to the humanities, not left to technical or empirical forms of knowledge. ­After the broader framing of this introduction and section 1, this collection frequently pursues a micropo­liti­cal approach, often eschewing familiar, global framings such as capitalism versus communism. Though we recognize the contributions of ­those discourses, and occasionally reference them, the chapters largely concentrate on local, par­tic­u­lar scenarios, such as the grammatical subordination of l­ abor in Dorothy Words­worth’s writing (chapter 8) or the dramatically dif­fer­ent valence walking takes in Dharug tradition (chapter 11). The focuses of the chapters are not logically arranged according to some abstract or Euclidian ideal of the ecocritical or Anthropocene “field,” then; instead, they highlight nodes of intensity and models of practice. As Jane Bennett shows in her book Influx and Efflux, curating the value of such local postures and dispositions offers a route into a distinctly dif­fer­ ent form of planetary relationality—­with nonhumans and ­humans alike. As does Bennett, we recognize in this collection that sometimes more direct and confrontational politics are required.124 But also like Bennett, we aim to nourish alternative values and practices to find and prepare routes out of con­temporary crisis, rather than repeatedly inhabiting agonistic frames and positions that seem locked in stalemate.


Rya n Hediger

Similarly, when Leanne Betasamosake Simpson advocates Indigenous freedom through radical re­sis­tance, clearly a po­liti­cal proj­ect, her means crucially revolve around “Nishnaabeg ways,” including “visiting, ceremony, singing, dancing, storytelling, hunting, fishing, gathering, observing, reflecting, experimenting, visioning, dreaming, ricing, and sugaring, for example.”125 This is a long, horizontal, place-­based, culturally specific list that also accords with Walt Whitman’s cata­logs in his own cultural context, one distinct from Simpson’s but parallel in some ways. Whitman is understood by Bennett in Influx and Efflux to model a sophisticated, somewhat sideways answer to destructive cultural norms, an escape from the seemingly endless agonism of extractive capitalism. Whitman and Simpson advocate being something dif­fer­ent right away, rather than staging a revolution first in hopes of eventual change. ­Labor postures, norms, and acts are at the heart of extraction, so changing them changes us and changes what constitutes the environment and our relationships with it. And we can begin—or return to—­such changes now. They are waiting for us.

Notes 1. ​In contrast to cap­it­ al­ist, settler-­colonial norms, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson emphasizes

that the cultural systems of Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg p­ eople, in what is sometimes t­ oday called Ontario, Canada, “­were designed to promote more life . . . ​not just h­ uman life but the life of all living ­things” (3). See Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Re­sis­tance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017). 2. ​See, for example, Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018), 5. 3. ​I use the term “crisis” to describe the Anthropocene with some hesitation b ­ ecause that word connotes brevity in time and ­because that framing may be counterproductive, but other words do not convey the urgency of the situation. For more on “crisis” framing, see Nicole Seymour, Bad Environmentalism: Irony and Irreverence in the Ecological Age (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018), 10. See also Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-­Baptiste Fressoz, The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History, and Us, trans. David Fernbach (London: Verso, 2016), 21. 4. ​Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer, “The Anthropocene,” Global Change Newsletter 41 (2000): 17–18. 5. ​This definition of work is consonant with Marx’s: “­Labour is, first of all, a pro­cess between man and nature, a pro­cess by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature.” Karl Marx, Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Po­liti­cal Ecol­ogy, trans. Ben Fowkes (London: Penguin, 1990), 283. While Marx recognizes historical variation in the practice of work and distinguishes h­ uman work from that of other animals, I suggest we further problematize the function of work as idea and practice, recognizing its variety. ­There is no single form or definition of work. For example, the sociologists Stephen Sweet and Peter Meiksins make the distinction between the “old and new economies.” For them, “the old economy represents the vari­ous ways of assigning and structuring work that developed in the wake of the Industrial Revolution through the mid-20th ­century.” The new economy, by contrast, they understand as more in flux, as uncertain, due to changing social contracts in the con­temporary moment. See Stephen Sweet and Peter Meiksins, Changing Contours of Work: Jobs and Opportunities in the New Economy, 2nd ed. (Los Angeles: Sage, 2013), 2. But in much broader temporal terms, what constitutes work varies much more considerably, as I explore below. I contend that ­human life has not always been or­ga­nized around “­labor” per se.

Introduction 27 6. ​Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, “Defining the ‘Anthropocene,’ ” Nature 519 (March 23, 2015), 174. Jesse Oak Taylor, “Globalize,” in Veer Ecol­ogy: A Companion for Environmental Thinking, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Lowell Duckert (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), offers a clear summary of ­these three opening dates for the Anthropocene: 1610, 1784, and 1945 (35–42). 7. ​Jan Zalasiewicz et  al., “When Did the Anthropocene Begin? A Mid-­Twentieth-­Century Boundary Level Is Stratigraphically Optimal,” Quaternary International 383 (2015): 201. 8. ​Taylor, “Globalize,” 38. 9. ​Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes, 23–64. On race as technology, see 61. 10. ​Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (London: Verso, 2006), 15, 50–69. 11. ​See Timothy Morton, Dark Ecol­ogy: For a Logic of ­Future Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016). 12. ​­Every date in the preceding list is falsely precise, in that, for instance, Watt’s steam engine has precursors and is part of its own span of continuous history; the 1610 date, similarly, might be replaced by 1492, or might be extended further backward to include other changes that helped make pos­si­ble what would happen in the Columbian Exchange. Of course, this is a prob­lem with any form of dating and periodizing in historiography. 13. ​James C. Scott, Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 7. 14. ​Steve Mentz, Break Up the Anthropocene (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019), 1. 15. ​On pluralizing time, see Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Anarky,” in Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times, ed. Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2017), 25–42. 16. ​This uncritical embrace of work is noted by scholars of leisure, such as Gary S. Cross, A Social History of Leisure since 1600 (State College, PA: Venture, 1990), 1; see also Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt, ­Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream (Philadelphia: T ­ emple University Press, 2013). 17. ​Bonneuil and Fressoz, Shock of the Anthropocene, xii. 18. ​Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes, 14, on desire. 19. ​Morton, Dark Ecol­ogy. 20. ​Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing W ­ ater (New York: Penguin, 1986). Also see Rob Nixon, Slow Vio­lence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 150–174. 21. ​Jennifer Fay, Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 91. See 91–96 for more on this U.S. nuclear program. 22. ​Jason W. Moore, Capitalism and the Web of Life: Ecol­ogy and the Accumulation of Capital (London: Verso, 2015), 75–87. Moore critiques approaches to metabolism framings (75–78), only to go on to offer another of his own. A de­cade and a half e­ arlier, in his celebrated article “Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift: Classical Foundations for Environmental Sociology” (American Journal of Sociology 105, no. 2 [1999]: 366–405), John Bellamy Foster shows the seriousness of Marx’s thought on environmental questions. Like Moore’s, it is a valuable case, but again it tends to take for granted a social contract or­ga­nized around work. He quotes Marx interpreting the ­human transformation of nature as a metabolic interaction that constitutes ­labor per se (380). One way to answer this is simply that we need not think of metabolism in terms of work or l­ abor. Is hunting and gathering “­labor?” We can look to such traditions, which a­ fter all constitute the majority of the history of our species, as a way to more fundamentally rethink routines of work. Indeed, the large-­scale temporal framings of the Anthropocene and climate change encourage us—­prob­ably require us—to think about l­ abor in similarly wide frames. 23. ​Kathi Weeks, The Prob­lem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).


Rya n Hediger

24. ​See, for example, Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008). In a discussion with colleagues, Haraway also offers a clear summary of this view as she objects to the term “Anthropocene”: “The con­temporary world is not a ­human species act. Rather, it is a situated highly complex systematicity of situated p­ eoples and their apparatuses, including their agricultural critters and other critters.” See Donna Haraway et al., “Anthropologists Are Talking—­About the Anthropocene,” Ethnos 81, no.  3 (2016): 539. Other relevant texts include Cary Wolfe, What Is Posthumanism? (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009); Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Lowell Duckert, Elemental Ecocrticism: Thinking with Earth, Air, Fire, and ­Water (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015); and Stacy Alaimo, Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010). 25. ​Hunnicutt, ­Free Time, 188. 26. ​Juliet  B. Schor, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (New York: Basic Books, 1992); Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. A.  P. Martinich (1651; Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2002), 96. 27. ​Scott, Against the Grain, 9–10. 28. ​Cross, Social History of Leisure, 7. 29. ​Schor, Overworked American, 43–44. While scholarship subsequent to Schor’s has quibbled with figures like the number of hours worked in hunter-­gatherer cultures, the basic pattern described by Schor has been widely accepted, as Suzman shows. For another summary of t­ hese issues, see Doug Bock Clark, The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanis­hing Way of Life (New York: L ­ ittle, Brown, 2019), 342 (note regarding page 262). Importantly, comparisons made between hunter-­gatherer lifestyles and con­temporary ones elide significant differences between activities and modern “work.” Much of what is understood from a con­temporary perspective as “work,” conducted by hunter-­gatherers, is likely better understood in a dif­fer­ent frame, such as “culture” or “deep play.” See my points ­later in this chapter on deep play. 30. ​James Suzman, Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots (New York: Penguin Press, 2021). 31. ​Schor, Overworked American, 14. However, it is clearly the case that the distinction between practical and ideal undertakings is an old one. Jennifer Wren Atkinson, engaging Herbert Marcuse’s work, traces it back to Classical philosophy and the difference between mundane necessity and high philosophy; see Atkinson, Gardenland: Nature, Fantasy, and Everyday Practice (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018), 21. But this distinction was less operationalized and institutionalized throughout everyday life, such as with the rigid workweek. 32. ​Schor, Overworked American, 7. 33. ​Noami Scheiber, “High-­Skilled White-­Collar Work? Machines Can Do That, Too,” New York Times, July 7, 2018, https://­www​.­nytimes​.­com​/­2018​/­07​/­07​/­business​/­economy​/­algorithm​-f­ ashion​ -­jobs​.­html. But automation may be less to blame for workplace woes than many assume; see Paul Krugman, “­Don’t Blame Robots for Low Wages,” New York Times, March 15, 2019, A31. 34. ​See, for example, Erika Rodriguez, “The G ­ reat Resignation Has Employers Sweating: It’s Time to Escalate the Pressure,” The Guardian, November 1, 2021, https://­www​.t­ heguardian​.­com​ /­commentisfree​/­2021​/­nov​/­01​/­great​-­resignation​-e­ mployers​-­sweating​-­time​-­to​-e­ scalate​-­pressure. 35. ​Bryce Covert, “What Money Can Buy: The Promise of a Universal Basic Income—­and Its Limitations,” The Nation 307, no. 6 (September 2018): 33–35. 36. ​Jon Henley, “Finland to End Basic Income Trial ­after Two Years,” The Guardian, April 23, 2018, https://­www​.t­ heguardian​.­com​/­world​/­2018​/­apr​/­23​/­finland​-­to​-­end​-­basic​-­income​-­trial​-­after​ -­two​-­years. 37. ​On Manitoba, ­Kenya, and India, see Dan Fumano, “Innovation Series: Does the Gig Economy Mean ‘Endless Possibilities’ or the Death of Jobs?” Vancouver Sun, updated October  8, 2016,

Introduction 29 https://­vancouversun​.­com​/­business​/­local​-­business​/­innovation​-­series​-­feature​-­on​-­the​-­gig​ -­economy. On Brazil, see Karl Widerquist, “Brazil: Basic Income in Quatinga Velho Celebrates 3 Years of Operation,” BIEN: Basic Income Earth Network, June 7, 2012, https://­basicincome​.­org​ /­news​/2­ 012​/0­ 6​/­brazil​-­basic​-­income​-­in​-­quatinga​-­velho​-­celebrates​-­3​-­years​-­of​-­operation​/­. 38. ​Dylan Matthews, “The Amazing True Socialist Miracle of the Alaska Permanent Fund,” Vox, February 13, 2018, https://­www​.v­ ox​.­com​/­policy​-­and​-­politics​/­2018​/­2​/­13​/­16997188​/­alaska​ -­basic​-­income​-­permanent​-­fund​-­oil​-­revenue​-­study. 39. ​David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2018). 40. ​Philip Sopher, “Where the Five-­Day Workweek Came From,” The Atlantic, August 21, 2014, https://­www​.­theatlantic​.­com​/­business​/­archive​/­2014​/­08​/­where​-­the​-­five​-­day​-­workweek​-­came​ -­from​/­378870​/­. 41. ​Sweet and Meiksins, Changing Contours of Work, 8–9. 42. ​For a summary of this situation and an argument against it, see Thomas A. Bryer, Higher Education beyond Job Creation: Universities, Citizens, Communities (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014). 43. ​Bonneuil and Fressoz, Shock of the Anthropocene, 68 (quoting Richard Heede). 44. ​On Malm coining the term, see Haraway et al., “Anthropologists Are Talking,” 555. 45. ​Andreas Malm, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming (London: Verso, 2016), 393. 46. ​Malm, 391. 47. ​Bonneuil and Fressoz, Shock of the Anthropocene, 76–77, 170–197. 48. ​Jason W. Moore, “The Rise of Cheap Nature,” in Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism, ed. Jason W. Moore (Oakland: PM Press, 2016), 93–95. See also Moore, Capitalism and the Web of Life. 49. ​Jan de Vries, The Industrious Revolution: Consumer Be­hav­ior and the House­hold Economy, 1650 to the Pre­sent (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008). 50. ​Anna L. Tsing makes this point in Haraway et al., “Anthropologists Are Talking,” 556. The larger discussion of the “plantationocene” is on 555–557. 51. ​Morton, Dark Ecol­ogy, 23. 52. ​Haraway et al., “Anthropologists Are Talking,” 542–543. 53. ​Bonneuil and Fressoz, Shock of the Anthropocene (see the titles of chapters 5–11). 54. ​Mentz, Break Up the Anthropocene, 58–64. 55. ​Haraway and ­others make this point in “Anthropologists Are Talking,” 548, for example. See also Donna J. Haraway, “Staying with the Trou­ble: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene,” in Moore, Anthropocene or Capitalocene? 51. 56. ​Haraway et al., “Anthropologists Are Talking,” 538–539. O ­ thers involved in this discussion generally agree that the term has a kind of use (e.g., Anna L. Tsing, 541). 57. ​Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (New York: Zone Books, 2015), 9–10. 58. ​Brown, 37. 59. ​Brown, 38. 60. ​Brown, 38. 61. ​Brown, 39. 62. ​Brown, 43. 63. ​Con­temporary notions of “freedom” are infected not just by the history of slavery, but by the history of fossil fuel use, facilitating ­whole regimes of life, including the characteristic expression of freedom in petromodernity: driving the automobile. See Donald Pease, “Amer­ i­ca,” in Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment, ed. Imre Szeman, Jennifer Wenzel, and Patricia Yaeger (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017), 31–34, esp. 32. 64. ​See Jennifer Rae Greeson, “The Prehistory of Possessive Individualism,” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of Amer­ic­ a 127, no. 4 (2012): 918–924. See also Toni


Rya n Hediger

Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (New York: Vintage, 1992), 56; and Susan Buck-­Morss, “Hegel and Haiti,” Critical Inquiry 26, no. 4 (2000): 821–865. 65. ​In his history ­Free Time, Hunnicutt charts a shift in thinking about leisure, ­earlier seen as an opportunity to foster personal development and education (e.g., 29–30) and ­later often embracing more open-­ended conceptions of play and plea­sure (e.g., 175–177). On “workism,” see Derek Thompson, “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable,” The Atlantic, February  24, 2019, https://­www​.­theatlantic​.­com​/­ideas​/­archive​/­2019​/­02​/­religion​-­workism​-­making​-­americans​ -­miserable​/­583441​/­. 66. ​For alternative thoughts and practices of luxury, see James Suzman, Affluence without Abundance: What We Can Learn from the World’s Most Successful Civilization (London: Bloomsbury, 2017). 67. ​Hunnicutt discusses Walt Whitman’s dispute with Ralph Waldo Emerson on this very terrain, for example. See ­Free Time, 62. 68. ​Federico Campagna, The Last Night: Anti-­Work, Atheism, Adventure (Winchester, UK: Zero Books, 2013), 12. 69. ​Brown, Undoing the Demos, 232–233n45. 70. ​David Graeber, “Turning Modes of Production Inside Out: Or, Why Capitalism Is a Transformation of Slavery (Short Version),” Critique of Anthropology 26, no. 1 (March 2006): 61–81. 71. ​For a discussion of fossil fuels in relation to slavery, see Jennifer Wenzel, Introduction, in Szeman, Wenzel, and Yaeger, Fueling Culture, 8–10. 72. ​Timothy Morton, Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman ­People (London: Verso, 2017), 189. 73. ​See Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecol­ogy a ­ fter the End of the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), esp. 1–23. 74. ​Richard White, “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?’ Work and Nature,” in Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the H ­ uman Place in Nature, ed. William Cronon (New York: Norton, 1995), 171. 75. ​White, 172. 76. ​White, 185. 77. ​Thompson, “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable.” 78. ​Nixon, Slow Vio­lence, 2. 79. ​White, “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist?’,” 175. 80. ​White, 175. 81. ​White, 175. Clearly this topic—­the range of work practices and work norms across time and space in Indigenous cultures—is massive and complex, and deserves a much fuller treatment than is pos­si­ble ­here. My central point is that we need to recognize that such a range exists and existed and that we should be cautious not to simply reiterate work norms that are in fact historical and cultural, not universal. 82. ​The fact that many First Nations did not exhaustively use their land for farming was a common justification for their displacement by Eu­ro­pe­ans. For examples of how forced l­abor in a Euro-­American sense was used to pacify and often kill Native Americans, see Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in Amer­i­ca (Boston: Mari­ner Books, 2016). His discussion of vagrancy laws, and the requirement that Native Americans have an employer, is a comparatively benign example that accords with widespread con­temporary ­labor norms (e.g., 263–264, 238). For a more geo­graph­i­cally focused account, see Margaret Ellen Newell, Brethren by Nature: New ­England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015). For a ferocious critique of the ideology of work as connected to racism and foisted upon Indigenous ­peoples and Blacks, see Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes. The history of forced, genocidal assimilation played out in terms of expectations around work, especially farming, is well established in other scholarship treating Indigenous ­peoples. See, for instance, David Wallace Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–1928 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas,

Introduction 31 1994). A revised and updated edition of Adams’s book was published in 2020. See also Scott, Against the Grain: “Pastoralists and hunting-­and-­gathering populations have fought against permanent settlement, associating it, often correctly, with disease and state control” (8). 83. ​White, “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist?,’ ” 175. 84. ​For one such critique, see Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism (The New Critical Idiom), 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2012), 129–137; see also Sarah Jaquette Ray, The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2013), 83–138. 85. ​White, “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist?,’ ” 175. 86. ​White, 177. 87. ​Timothy Morton’s term “agrilogistics” names an entire approach to real­ity, life, and work. He defines it as a “twelve-­thousand-­year machination,” “a specific logistics of agriculture that arose in the Fertile Crescent and that is still plowing ahead. Logistics, b­ ecause it is a technical, planned, and perfectly logical approach to built space. Logistics, ­because it proceeds without stepping back and rethinking that logic. A viral logistics, eventually requiring steam engines and industry to feed its proliferation” (Dark Ecol­ogy, 42). 88. ​Stephanie Posthumus underscores the risks involved in essentializing cultural difference in French Ecocritique: Reading Con­temporary French Theory and Fiction Ecologically (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017), 17–19. And see Simpson, who insists that Indigenous resurgence must grow out of Indigenous cultural frames, not settler-­colonial ones (As We Have Always Done, 158–159). 89. ​White, “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist?,’ ” 178. 90. ​White, 177. 91. ​For a compelling treatment of this movement, see Giorgos Kallis and Hug March, “Imaginaries of Hope: The Utopianism of Degrowth,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105, no. 2 (2015): 360–368. See also Serge Latouche, Farewell to Growth (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2010); and Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-­Century Economist (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2017). ­These scholars are part of a, well, growing movement to rethink cultural logics. 92. ​Gary S. Cross, Preface, Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in Amer­ic­ a, vol. 1 (Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2004), xi. 93. ​Atkinson, Gardenland, 6. 94. ​For instance, see Haraway, When Species Meet; Wolfe, What Is Posthumanism?; and Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). 95. ​Schor, Overworked American, 49–50; Graeber, Bullshit Jobs, 84–99; and E.  P. Thompson, “Time, Work-­Discipline and Industrial Capitalism,” Past & Pre­sent 38 (1967): 56–97. 96. ​Thompson, quoted in Schor, Overworked American, 50. 97. ​See Adrienne Green, “How Common Is a Gap Year?,” The Atlantic, May 2, 2016, https://­ www​.­theatlantic​.­com​/­education​/­archive​/­2016​/­05​/­how​-­common​-­is​-­a​-­gap​-­year​/­480921​/­. On midcareer sabbaticals, see Helen Coster, “How to Take a Sabbatical from Work,” Forbes, August 24, 2010, https://­www​.­forbes​.­com​/­2010​/­08​/­24​/­sabbatical​-­leave​-­work​-­leadership​-­careers​-­advice​ .­html#374a581cb005. 98. ​Sweet and Meiksins, Changing Contours of Work, 8. 99. ​Hunnicutt, ­Free Time, vii. 100. ​Hunnicutt, x. 101. ​Hunnicutt, 87. 102. ​Hunnicutt, 189. 103. ​Stevphen Shukaitis, “Work 2,” in Szeman, Wenzel, and Yaeger, Fueling Culture, 385. 104. ​Morton explic­itly embraces the tautological character of life in Dark Ecol­ogy, with his insistent rhe­toric of loops and ouroboras. 105. ​Stephanie LeManager, “Love and Theft; or, Provincializing the Anthropocene,” PMLA 136, no. 1 (2021): 103.


Rya n Hediger

106. ​Morton, Dark Ecol­ogy, 116. 107. ​Morton, 102. 108. ​Morton, 115. For more on the importance of play, see also Haraway et al., “Anthropologists

Are Talking,” 555; Atkinson, Gardenland, 19–56; and Ryan Hediger, Homesickness: Of Trauma and the Longing for Place in a Changing Environment (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019), 290–291. 109. ​Seymour, Bad Environmentalism, 23. 110. ​This point about energy is also made by the economist Robert Pollin, discussed in Shayla Love, “The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less,” Vice, May 29, 2019, https://­www​ .­vice​.­com​/­en​_­us​/­article​/­bj9yjq​/­the​-­radical​-­plan​-­to​-s­ ave​-­the​-­planet​-b­ y​-­working​-­less. 111. ​See Scott  G. Miller, “Environmental Impacts: The Dark Side of Outdoor Recreation?” Outdoor Recreation: Promise and Peril in the New West (Summer Conference, June 8–10, 1998), https://­scholar​.­law​.c­ olorado​.­edu​/­outdoor​-r­ ecreation​-­promise​-­and​-­peril​-­in​-­new​-­west​/­4. See also Ralf Buckley, Perspectives in Environmental Management (Berlin: Springer, 1991), esp. 243–258. 112. ​Manfred Lenzen et al., “The Carbon Footprint of Global Tourism,” Nature Climate Change 8 (2018): 522–528. 113. ​Brown, Undoing the Demos, 67. 114. ​Naomi Klein, This Changes Every­thing: Capitalism vs. the Climate (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014). 115. ​Morton, Dark Ecol­ogy, 116. 116. ​Morton, Humankind, 103. 117. ​See Jane Bennett, The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics (Prince­ton, NJ: Prince­ton University Press, 2001). 118. ​For a related example, see Jane Bennett’s curation of Henry David Thoreau’s experience of a “ ‘fulness of life’ that seems to have no purpose” in Influx and Efflux (105). Bennett’s book emphasizes the value of the “ ‘interval’ between influx and efflux,” between entities coming in and ­going out of our selves and subjectivities: “To linger in that ‘and’ is to postpone judgment, that is to say, to hold off the sorting discrimination often assumed to be the very essence of ethical action” (xvi). She shows in vari­ous places how such lingering offers an opening to experience that becomes one of life’s most essential purposes, though “purpose” does not quite capture the character of such experiences, just as my word “nowness” is only part of the story. Jane Bennett, Influx and Efflux: Writing Up with Walt Whitman (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020). 119. ​Richard Grusin, Introduction: “Anthropocene Feminism: An Experiment in Collaborative Theorizing,” in Anthropocene Feminism, ed. Richard Grusin, vii–­xix (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), viii. 120. ​Grusin, Anthropocene Feminism; Moore, Anthropocene or Capitalocene?; and ­Human Animal Research Network Editorial Collective, eds., Animals in the Anthropocene: Critical Perspectives on Non-­Human ­Futures (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2015). 121. ​Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life, 39. 122. ​Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor, Introduction, in Menely and Taylor, Anthropocene Reading, 13–14 123. ​Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life, 205. 124. ​Bennett, Influx and Efflux. See xix and 117 for discussions of more direct and confrontational forms of politics. Bennett’s accenting of non-­agonistic modes of being is akin to Timothy Morton’s argument in Being Ecological that we should not try so hard to “be ecological” b­ ecause we already “are ecological” (157), that presuming we can first know how to be ecological and then go ahead and do it participates in the ecology-­distancing, planet-­objectifying ontology that is precisely the prob­lem (e.g., xxv). Morton, Being Ecological (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018). 125. ​Simpson, As We Have Always Done, 29.

Section One


1 ▶ WHAT ’S PAST IS PROLOGUE The Dragon, the Phoenix, and the Golden Spike D AV I D L . RO D L A N D

A Tale of Two Houses I work in the past. I am a paleoecologist, and my work encompasses hundreds of millions of years of geologic history. That leads to a lack of temporal focus, a flexible approach to verb tenses, professional writing standards that frequently conflict with the Chicago style preferred in the humanities, and a completely dif­fer­ent perspective on what constitutes recent events. My field is gripped in a debate about how to define the ‘Anthropocene’: the time period in which ­human activity has fundamentally transformed global systems, from biodiversity and ecosystem function to ocean stratification and climate change. Over three hundred million years ago, my home in the foothills of Appalachia sat in a coastal floodplain, at a tropical latitude in the vicinity of 20 degrees south—­ comparable to Rio de Janeiro in the modern day. The planet Earth was gripped in the depths of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age, but you w ­ ouldn’t know it from hip deep in the bayous of a coal swamp. The southern supercontinent Gondwana lay u­ nder kilo­meters of glacial ice, a climate state that geoscientists refer to as an “Ice­house,” 35


Dav id L . Rodl a nd

in contrast to the ice-­free “Green­house” conditions of the early Paleozoic or subsequent Mesozoic eras.1 Revolution was in the air: ancient trees locked up carbon that would lie buried for over three hundred million years, sequestered in sediments that would form the Allegheny plateau. It was a quiet revolution, born of photosynthesis, flooding the air with oxygen while stripping the atmosphere of green­house gases and driving the glaciation. ­There was no sign that one lineage of early tetrapod would give rise to mammals, or another to birds, no indicator that mountain-­stripping coal mines would someday peel off the overburden to fuel Amer­i­ca’s industrialization. From the vantage of the coal swamp, ­there was no way to tell that in roughly fifty million years, magma rising ­under the distant Siberian landmass would punch through similar coal beds, polluting the atmosphere with a toxic haze of carbon, sulfur, mercury, and ozone-­destroying halogens.2 Over a period of no more than sixty thousand years, global warming from carbon dioxide and methane gas emissions would drive Earth’s climate into a hyperthermal episode, what some workers call a “Hot­house” state.3 Temperatures in tropical sea surface w ­ aters ­rose as hot as a Jacuzzi,4 driving the deep ocean into hypoxia and the production of hydrogen sulfide. The result was the greatest proportional loss of biodiversity in Earth’s history,5 a crisis far beyond current h­ uman capabilities to match.6 That biotic crisis, known now as the end-­Permian mass extinction, marked the literal end of an era: the transition from the Paleozoic to the Mesozoic. It is marked by a “golden spike”—­ actually bronze—­driven into the base of bed 27c at Meishan section D in China.7 The International Commission on Stratigraphy, better known by the acronym ICS, correlates that marker worldwide using the earliest appearance of the conodont Hindeodus parvus, toothlike ele­ments of primitive jawless vertebrates used widely for biostratigraphy. ­These have been used to trace the beginning of the Triassic period from strata in the Italian Dolomites to the Gros Ventre range of Wyoming.8 The ICS is the formal scientific body that delineates and defines geologic time, and it is currently embroiled in a ­running discussion on ­whether or not to embrace a proposal to erect a new unit termed the ‘Anthropocene’ to recognize the global impact of ­human industrial activities, and if they do so, to determine an appropriate starting point, a “golden spike.” Formally called a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point, or GSSP, the “golden spike” marks a point in the stratigraphic rec­ord that has clear identifying characteristics demarcating a boundary that can be traced and correlated worldwide. This debate is contentious, with strong arguments pro and con.9 ­Until the status of the proposal is resolved, stratigraphers use the term in single quotes (‘Anthropocene’) to distinguish it from formally recognized and ratified units of the geologic time scale, and t­ here is a distinct possibility that it w ­ ill not receive recognition despite its widespread use.10 As a geoscientist who teaches stratigraphy, whose first figure in a first peer-­reviewed publication incorporated stratigraphic columns from ­those Triassic rocks of Wyoming and Montana,11 I find

What’s Past Is Prologue 37

myself deeply sympathetic to skeptical perspectives, including at least one ICS president. But while the proposal’s stratigraphic utility is debatable, anthropogenic impacts on the earth system are well-­established, pervasive, severe, and likely to grow. The original proposal by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer delineated an ‘Anthropocene’ epoch beginning with the invention of the steam engine in 1784, resulting in the widespread burning of fossil fuels in the Industrial Revolution,12 and marked by changes in the global balance of stable carbon isotopes. This proposal linked ­human technological development and the transformation of l­ abor to global environmental changes that transcended the norms of the entire Quaternary period, the 2.6-­million-­year interval of “Ice­house” glacial and interglacial cycles in which our genus, Homo, ­rose to dominance. A similar shift in the global carbon isotope rec­ord is seen at the end of the Permian. Siberian magma burned through coal beds and injected billions of tons of light carbon into the atmosphere on a scale equivalent to the volume h­ umans may introduce by 2100 ­under the International Commission on Climate Change’s RCP 8.5 (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5) “business-­as-­usual” model for fossil fuel consumption.13 Similar shifts are associated with other mass extinctions in the fossil rec­ord, and are used to correlate stratigraphic sections from one continent to another. They mark global crises, planetary scale disruptions to the global carbon cycle. Igneous activity in Siberia triggered the end-­Permian mass extinction, but its ultimate cause may have been the formation of the coal beds long before the crisis began.14 That, in turn, was a consequence of biological evolution: the rise of lycopsid club mosses and other arboreal plants during the initial afforestation of land. ­Those forests changed global carbon and nutrient cycles and are implicated in extinctions in the late Devonian, among the top five biotic crises in evolutionary history.15 ­Today, the world’s land area holds ten times the biodiversity of its oceans, and 99 ­percent of its biomass.16 Half of the sunlight that falls on land is captured by plants through photosynthesis, driving up to 90 ­percent of transpiration of soil moisture back to the atmosphere.17 The world is a better, greener, more diverse place ­today ­because of afforestation, but many species died as a result of that transformation.18 ­There are parallels in the scope of ­human activity t­oday. We utilize nearly a quarter of all primary production by plants, directly and indirectly as food and as biomass fuel, a value that has doubled over the past ­century.19 We are second only to ­cattle in terms of total mammalian biomass, but ­cattle are extinct in the wild, surviving ­today only in domestication. The rate of species extinction t­ oday exceeds the rate of the biggest mass extinctions of Earth’s past,20 although it would take centuries to approach their intensity, short of global thermonuclear war. One biological revolution holds the seeds of another. Life inevitably brings death, and death begets new life.


Dav id L . Rodl a nd

Hatching the Phoenix In physics, work is the transfer of energy, calculated as a force applied over a unit of distance. For ­every other animal species on Earth, the ability to use energy and do work, ­whether to move or to grow, to capture food or build shelter, comes exclusively through cellular respiration. Respiration is the opposite of photosynthesis: oxidizing organic molecules like glucose results in an exothermic chemical reaction producing carbon dioxide and ­water. Respiration expends energy gained from food, ­either directly through organic material ingested by the organism, or indirectly through interaction with another. It ­doesn’t hold a candle, if you ­will, to fire. Fire is a primal ele­ment in many traditions. In ancient Greece, Prometheus stole it from the gods on behalf of humanity. In Zoroastrianism, it is an aspect of divinity itself. In the Abrahamic traditions, God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. Fire is dynamic: consuming oxygen and biomass to sustain itself, it grows and spreads u­ ntil it is extinguished. Even then, its embers can start a blaze anew, rising like a phoenix from its egg. Combustion resembles cellular respiration at a chemical level: an exothermic reaction between an oxidizing agent and organic ­matter that produces carbon dioxide, ­water, and heat. It differs in that it is not confined to the context of a living cell. Its growth does not follow the tyranny of ge­ne­tics, of folding proteins assembled according to a sequence of four-­letter code handed down over billions of years, altered and honed by natu­ral se­lection. Fire obeys a smaller, simpler set of laws. It ­isn’t life, but it does many of the same ­things. We still do not know when early h­ uman ancestors gained mastery over fire. Burnt flint from a cave in Israel suggests that it’s been used in flint-­knapping for at least 350,000 years, predating the oldest known occurrence of anatomically modern ­humans by tens of thousands of years.21 ­There is evidence of charcoal hearths dating back over a million years in Africa, suggesting that Homo erectus was using fire in some capacity.22 The controlled use of fire was transformative for h­ uman culture and evolution. As warm-­blooded, endothermic organisms, burning fires to stay warm reduced our dependence upon cellular metabolism to maintain a constant body temperature. It provided light in the darkness and deterred nighttime predators. Fire was used to work tools, changing their physical properties in useful ways. But most importantly, perhaps: we learned to cook. Cooking softens food and denatures proteins, reducing the amount of time and energy required to chew and digest food and liberating a greater proportion of its nutritional value than eating it raw. By freeing up more energy for our early ­human ancestors, fire allowed us to evolve shorter digestive tracts, smaller teeth, and weaker jaws, diverting increased energy during development to our disproportionately large brains. Cooking our food broke down chemical defenses plants had evolved to deter predation, allowing ­human consumption of other­wise inedible foods like acorns and cassava. Fire allowed us to convert the

What’s Past Is Prologue 39

indigestible cellulose in wood and other biomass into a usable form, both directly and through substitution for ingested food calories, in a way that no other species ever has, and with the behavioral flexibility that characterizes our species.23 By the last glacial maximum of the Pleistocene epoch, the unglaciated parts of Eu­rope should have been heavi­ly forested, as in previous Ice Ages. The fossil pollen rec­ord, however, tells a dif­fer­ent story: a mix of wood and grasslands, heavi­ly modified by ­human activity.24 Fire played a critical part of this transformation, used intentionally to clear brush and flush game. This was a radical transformation of the landscape wrought not by the axe, but by flame, an entirely new application of ­human ingenuity to achieve a desired goal, working smarter instead of harder. Before the end of the last Ice Age, as anatomically modern h­ umans swept into Australia and the Amer­ic­ as, they brought fire with them. Fire and death. During the last interglacial period of the Pleistocene, around 130,000 years ago, average global temperatures ­rose two degrees Celsius above pre­industrial levels, and glacial meltwater raised the oceans approximately five meters (over sixteen feet) above modern sea level.25 ­Those two degrees above the pre­industrial average temperature of the Holocene mark what many climate scientists regard as the safe threshold for global climate change. This is the level of warming that we know from the geologic rec­ord that the planet Earth can accommodate, and limiting warming to that level is the goal of the Paris Agreement of 2016.26 The ancestors of the indigenous Australian ­peoples crossed over the sea from the Sunda shelf to Sahul perhaps 80,000 years ago.27 Changes in wildfire frequency and floral abundance occurred as early as 70,000 years ago, contributing to the collapse of the marsupial megafauna by 43,000 years ago.28 In the Amer­ic­ as, h­ umans crossed Beringia into North Amer­i­ca and down the coast all the way to Chile before 18,000 years ago.29 The combination of climate change and ­human impacts contributed to major changes in ecosystems over the millennia that followed,30 and relict holdover populations of mammoths and ground sloths hung on in far-­flung refugia like Wrangel Island and the West Indies,31 ­until just over 4,000 years ago. The GSSP demarcating the end of the Pleistocene epoch is marked by rapid warming at the end of the Younger Dryas interstadial and dated to 11,700 years before the year 2000.32 Within a thousand years of the boundary, over 50 species of large mammal dis­appear from the fossil rec­ord of the Amer­ic­ as.33 Single-­cause hypotheses for extinction are a dime a dozen. But extinction is not a single ­thing that happens to a single organism—it describes the final death of the final individual within a species. It is the culmination of every­thing that has happened to e­ very organism in a species lineage: e­ very death, e­ very birth, e­ very failure to reproduce contributes to the collective history encompassed by its stratigraphic range, from first to last appearance. Quaternary paleoecologists increasingly embrace multicausal and synergistic models of ­these extinctions that combine low-­level ­human hunting, climate change, and complex changes to the landscape resulting from the use of fire, changes in vegetation, and the disruption of nutrient


Dav id L . Rodl a nd

cycles, including positive feedback mechanisms driven by the disappearance of large mammals.34

The Work of the Dead Much of American industry has been fueled through the combustion of coal mined from Carboniferous age seams that crop out across Appalachia, or natu­ral gas trapped in its Devonian and Ordovician shale deposits, or from oil pumped out of the Permian reef complexes of West Texas. Buried under­ground, compacted and distilled through diage­ne­tic pro­cesses, bituminous coal can hold nearly twice the specific energy—­rated in megajoules per kilogram of fuel—as wood or sugar, while unrefined petroleum holds two and a half times as much energy, and natu­ral gas holds nearly t­ riple. An economic coal deposit, like the Pittsburgh seam that was once mined in my county, might encompass an area the size of the Everglades and mea­sure well over two meters (six and a half feet) in vertical thickness, but the burial pro­cess compacted it by as much as a f­ actor of ten. I’ve cored a postglacial peat swamp in upstate New York that mea­sured five meters (sixteen feet) before striking clay; compaction would reduce that to brown coal half a meter (less than twenty inches) thick, representing ten thousand years of dead carbon, sequestered through photosynthesis. Appalachia has over fifty ­giant coal seams, stacked one ­after another, each representing a succession of Ice Age cycles in sea level over millions of years. The Industrial Revolution unlocked ­those energy resources, burning through epochs of photosynthesis in centuries to drive steam engines and electrical generators. Electricity separated the pro­cess of unlocking that energy from the work we do with it, so that coal burned in Utah can power lightbulbs in California. We ­don’t even think about it, we just turn a switch. And we are profligate in our use, losing two-­thirds of all power generated in the United States in 2017 to heat, noise, and other inefficiencies.35 Our civilization depends on necromancy, and we are sustained by the invisible work of the dead. By 2007, the consumption of fossil fuels, production of cement, and other ­human activities released over 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere ­every year,36 which builds up faster than it can be absorbed by living plants or dissolved in the world ocean. Twenty thousand years ago, at the last glacial maximum, the atmosphere held a mere 180 parts per million of carbon dioxide, reducing the green­house effect enough to allow glaciation over 30  ­percent of the world’s landmass.37 When the glaciers thawed and climate stabilized at the early Holocene optimum 10,000  years ago, that level topped out at 280 parts per million, roughly the highest levels seen during the past 2.5 million years of the Pleistocene Ice Ages.38 That level persisted u­ ntil the 1800s and the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. T ­ oday, just 200 years ­later, the atmosphere holds over 408 ppm, the greatest concentration since the Pliocene epoch when our own ancestors first began to walk on two legs.39 The difference in carbon dioxide between t­oday and 1800 is greater than the difference between that of the warmest and coldest intervals of the Pleistocene,

What’s Past Is Prologue 41

but we have not seen the same extraordinary swing in climate. Yet. The mechanisms of Earth’s climate system are slow and ponderous, and it takes centuries to reach equilibrium. The steady state of climate of the past ten thousand years has been attributed to the rise of agriculture, the change in land use between deforestation and the creation of rice paddies helping to prevent the inevitable return of another cooling trend.40 This is one of the reasons that the Anthropocene Working Group looked elsewhere to drive their spike: the lack of a distinct horizon in the stratigraphic rec­ord to terminate the Holocene epoch marked by carbon emissions and climate change. Not all of us have reaped the rewards of the Industrial Revolution equally. Want to talk ­labor in the ‘Anthropocene’? A ­century ago, the United States employed over 880,000 coal miners to extract something on the order of 600 million metric tons of coal per year, but when production peaked in 2008, less than 10 ­percent of that workforce41 produced over a billion metric tons,42 with the remaining l­abor performed by heavy equipment and high explosives. The vast majority of the work done to produce coal is done t­oday by capital instead of ­labor, industrial equipment powered by fossil fuels: front end loaders, dump trucks, con­vey­or ­belts, ­water pumps, draglines, and longwall shearers produce more coal at a higher profit margin than a h­ uman ­labor force can. It’s a capital-­intensive industry, one that concentrates wealth. Over half of ­human carbon emissions can be attributed to the activities of the wealthiest 10 ­percent, just 750 million ­people of the developed industrial economies.43 The poorest half of the global population—­over 3.5 billion p­ eople—­produces less than 10  ­percent of carbon emissions,44 and 40  ­percent depend exclusively upon renewable biofuels like wood, grass, and dung for their primary energy source,45 contributing to over 2.8 million premature deaths ­every year from particulate air pollution.46 ­These are the same fuels that sustained ­humans for hundreds of thousands of years, from hunter-gatherers to the Iron Age. To talk about the role of fossil fuels in ­labor and leisure, much less the global consequences of carbon emissions, is to talk about in­equality in the economies of the Industrial Age.

The Dragon’s Hoard Fire transformed h­ uman evolution, liberating enough surplus energy to allow average brain volume to increase from approximately 600 cubic centimeters in Homo habilis to 1,300 cubic centimeters in modern h­ umans.47 By the end of the Pleistocene epoch, 11,700 years before the year 2000, the global ­human population was less than ten million.48 Their ability to influence their world was l­imited, though still profound. What fire began, alcohol accelerated. Evidence from Raqefet Cave in Israel suggests that the preagricultural Natufian culture ­were brewing beer from wheat and barley as early as thirteen thousand years ago, before the end of the Ice Age,49 predating the domestication of major grains by thousands of years. Stoneworks at Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey


Dav id L . Rodl a nd

date back to the end of the Pleistocene, the oldest sign of large-­scale stone construction currently known to archaeology.50 Th ­ ere is no sign of permanent habitation: it was isolated from the areas where ­people made their living at the time, and visited only periodically.51 It is interpreted as a ritual site, with relief carvings of animals on the stone pillars and the occasional ­human skull dangling from the ceiling.52 Evidence of feasts suggests that it was a religious center of some renown. Traces of oxalic acid in large stone troughs are interpreted as evidence for large-­ scale fermentation of alcoholic beverages, some primitive variety of beer based on einkorn or similar grains that w ­ ere early targets for h­ uman cultivation, the first round in millennia of drinking.53 Fire may have lit our path, but alcohol sent us down the path t­ oward civilization. Some degree of horticulture was practiced in tropical Melanesia and Borneo 45,000  years ago, in Southeast Asia by 36,000  years ago, and South Amer­ic­a 13,000 years ago—­long before the end of the Pleistocene.54 Small, stable settlements based on a few domesticated crops and animal species date to the Greenlandian age of the early Holocene in places like Tell es-­Sultan near Jericho and Çatalhöyük in southern Turkey.55 Çatalhöyük was abandoned around the beginning of the m ­ iddle Holocene (the Northgrippian age) due to the impact of a severe cooling episode.56 It is well into the ­middle Holocene before we see the development of large-­scale agriculture, the rise of the first city states along the Tigris and Euphrates in Sumer around 6,500 years ago.57 Inscribed clay tablets dated to over 5,000  years old rec­ord the earliest signs of writing, showing the or­ga­nized division of ­labor, trade receipts and rec­ords, letters and complaints, myths and ­recipes, and songs, not to mention the allocation of beer. Civilizations ­rose like weeds following the Neolithic Revolution, along the Nile, on the Yellow River, and the Indus River for starters. Agriculture seems to have arisen in­de­pen­dently over as many as eleven separate occasions since the end of the last Ice Age.58 In many of ­these early sites t­ here is evidence for production of fermented beverages, often playing a central role in the stories and culture of ­these socie­ties. Beer and wine may have helped motivate the development of domesticated crops and large-­scale ­human settlements, given how closely intertwined the two developments appear to be.59 Farming fundamentally changed the way that ­humans worked: instead of foraging across the landscape for food, we transformed the land through cultivation, to enhance its yield. We traded a nomadic lifestyle for one devoted to specific plots of land, establishing bound­aries and delineating territories. Living hunter-­gatherers appear to spend more time working and less time at leisure when they transition to farming,60 but despite the decline in leisure and individual health, the cereal-­based diet enabled by farming appears to increase overall fertility and thus adaptive fitness.61 If alcohol gave us agriculture, and agriculture gave us civilization, then our symbiotic relationship with yeast may have done more to increase anthropogenic impact than our mastery of fire. Farm cultivation drove the expansion of h­ uman population by o­ rders of magnitude, to over a billion by the dawn of the Industrial

What’s Past Is Prologue 43

Revolution.62 Life two hundred years ago was not so dif­fer­ent, in many ways, from life a thousand years before; for hunter-­gatherers and subsistence farmers of the modern world, it has barely changed at all. If you wanted work done, it still required physical ­labor, teams of ­human builders and domesticated animals using clever but ­simple machines like the ramp, the wheel, the pulley, and the lever to move stone blocks and assem­ble walls and ­temples, dolmens and moai.63 ­People gathered to drink alcohol, or in ­temples to worship, or in arenas to watch competitive sports in cultures from the Amer­ic­ as to eastern Asia. While trade and immigration linked cultures across both the Old World and the New, they often reinvented similar solutions to similar prob­lems. Thomas Robert Malthus raised the specter of sustainability at the dawn of Crutzen’s ‘Anthropocene,’ noting the inevitable conflict between geometric population growth and physical limits on arable land.64 Agriculture had driven the rise of ­human population to a billion p­ eople over the course of roughly ten millennia, but we would surge past Malthus’s limits over the next two centuries through the rise of modern medicine, the artificial fertilization of soil, and an Industrial Revolution that would transform the relationship between ­humans and machines, capital and ­labor, energy and environment. Estimates of global population reach 2 billion by the 1930s, and 3 billion by the 1960s, and from that point on, we would net another billion ­people ­every generation. ­Today, we share our world with over 7.6 billion other h­ umans, but we do not share its resources equally. Industrialization has fueled the decline of rural communities across the globe, strip mining the most valuable resource—­labor—­from the countryside to feed the demands of urban industry.65 Significant inroads have been made in reducing global poverty and hunger, while improving access to education, clean ­water, and health care, but hundreds of millions remain undernourished and lack clean ­water or basic sanitation ser­vices.66 An estimated half the ­human population possesses less wealth in all forms than the 62 richest billionaires.67 The 32 million wealthiest individuals—­less than 0.7 ­percent of the world population—­hold a cumulative net worth of nearly $100 trillion, representing control over 41 ­percent of the resources of the planet, while the poorest two-­thirds of the adult population, over three billion souls, possess less than 3  ­percent of global wealth, less than $10,000 per capita.68 This surely is not an accurate valuation of individual work, but rather reflects their mastery of the po­liti­cal, social, ­legal, technological, and economic framework in which we live. Hundreds of millions are jeopardized by the effects of global climate change, through direct effects on weather,69 as well as secondary ­causes including rising sea levels,70 increasing flooding along rivers,71 and the coastal floodplains that support most modern megacities,72 overdrafted groundwater aquifers,73 and changes in growing seasons and food production.74 Nearly ­every h­ uman on Earth breathes air contaminated by pollution, resulting in health prob­lems that cause the premature death of at least 6.5 million ­people e­ very year.75 We stand on the verge of the largest migration crisis in ­human history: by 2008, an estimated 20 million climate


Dav id L . Rodl a nd

change refugees already outnumbered the 4.6 million displaced by conflict, and by 2100 that number is likely to hit 200 million.76

Golden Spikes On May 10, 1869, the president of the Central Pacific Railroad com­pany lifted a silver hammer to drive a ceremonial golden spike to unite two lines of the First Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit in the territory of Utah. This ceremony celebrated the connection of two railways constructed si­mul­ta­neously from the east (the Union Pacific line) and west (the Central Pacific line), symbolically linking the coasts of the United States of Amer­ic­ a. It was pure spectacle, of course, as neither end of the lines had been completed at the time, and the original wooden tie and the ceremonial spikes ­were promptly removed and replaced. While it would take a few more years before true coast-­to-­coast rail travel was pos­ si­ble, what had once taken settlers months of travel by ox-­drawn cart along routes like the Oregon Trail could soon be traveled in days on trains pulled by steam locomotives fueled with coal. A traveler crossing Promontory Summit by rail would not know precisely where the spike had been driven, or notice that it was now gone. They had more practical concerns, destinations laid out on rails of steel, with only a handful of junctions and switches along the way to change their path. The Industrial Revolution was already underway, but the “Golden Spike” remains a useful meta­phor for the beginning of a new age: a transformative event, a physical manifestation of the linkage between two separate systems in a single moment of time. From a stratigraphic perspective, the lowest “golden spike” in the sedimentary rec­ord marks the first GSSP at the end of a Precambrian Ice Age approximately 635 million years ago. It marks the base of the Ediacaran period, defined at the transition from Cryogenian glacial sediments to carbonates formed during a catastrophic episode of global warming.77 Animal life diversified in the aftermath of this warming, from sponges to soft-­bodied, frond-­like animals, to the first multicellular creatures with true skele­tons, in one of the most impor­tant periods of evolutionary change in Earth’s history.78 The next GSSP marks the end of the Ediacaran period (and thus, the Neoproterozoic eon) at the base of the Cambrian, the period that marks the beginning of the Paleozoic era and Phanerozoic eon. Denoted by the first appearance of a priapulid worm burrow at Mistaken Point in Newfoundland,79 the Ediacaran—­Cambrian transition is now recognized as an agronomic transformation in its own right: the Cambrian Substrate Revolution. In this revolution, the microbial matgrounds that had been foundational for the ecol­ogy of the Ediacaran fauna ­were literally turned over by burrowing organisms plowing the sediment for food, or digging in to avoid predators.80 The carbon cycle and global climate w ­ ere transformed by the work of ­these animals, with warming and ocean anoxia prevailing through much of the Cambrian.81

What’s Past Is Prologue 45

Not all units are represented by GSSPs, and not e­ very episode of environmental change or major extinction event is recognized with its own place in the geologic time scale. Dinosaurs came to prominence during an episode of climate change and radical ecological reor­ga­ni­za­tion in the late Triassic known as the Carnian Pluvial Event (CPE). The Carnian age lasted ten million years, nearly four times longer than the entire Quaternary period, but the CPE gets no formal recognition in the time scale. The ICS has charged a working group with identifying a GSSP for the ‘Anthropocene,’82 evaluating proposals to establish a new epoch for the pre­sent day. ­These proposals would define the end of the Holocene epoch, which began 11,700 years before 2000 and formally continues to the pre­sent. Unlike the International Astronomical Union, which formally names astronomical bodies and controversially moved to define planets83 in 2006 without deference to history, popu­lar use, or the geophysical community,84 the ICS recognizes that the terminology does not belong to stratigraphers alone. (If you ­don’t like the way astronomers define planets, ask one why oxygen is a metal. Humpty Dumpty had a point about words.85) When it comes to the placement of the golden spike, we are spoiled for choices. Some have suggested the dispersal of maize pollen and other domesticated and invasive species worldwide starting in 1610,86 while o­ thers prefer the transformation of landscapes and change in climate starting in the ­middle Holocene.87 At the time I write this, the Anthropocene Working Group has recommended 1950,88 correlated worldwide by radioactive fallout from the onset of above­ground nuclear weapons testing, the spread of plastic pollution, and the accelerated industrial use of fossil fuels from the Cold War on. As with defining planets, where the planetary scientists clash with t­ hose who work on orbital mechanics, we all look for definitions that are meaningful to our own work. Perhaps a postindustrial ‘Anthropocene’ would be better recognized as an age within the Holocene rather than an epoch on its own, despite antiquated naming conventions that limit the “-­cene” suffix to epochs dating back to the work of Charles Lyell and William Whewell. Of all the epochs recognized by stratigraphers, only the Holocene rec­ords deposition over a time interval of less than half a million years. But why should it be an epoch? What does that word mean outside of stratigraphy? An ‘Anthropocene’ age would lose nothing in common parlance or meaning. From the standpoint of ­human impact, the Holocene is the Deep ‘Anthropocene,’ the interval where changes in h­ uman activity and work fundamentally changed global ecosystems and climate. As such, the Deep ‘Anthropocene’ is already stratigraphically recognized. An ‘Anthropocene’ defined for stratigraphic purposes may not be ideal for ­those in the environmental humanities. Stratigraphers grapple with the geologic past, but we all live in the pre­sent, and we plan for the f­ uture. For the rest of us, the starting point does not ­matter. William Ruddiman, a longtime proponent of an early GSSP, now argues for an informal ‘Anthropocene’ outside the remit of stratigraphy, a concept that may prove more useful.89 If we manage to adhere to the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global climate change to less than two degrees Celsius above pre­industrial levels, if we


Dav id L . Rodl a nd

­ anage to rein in our pollution and halt the waves of extinction, perhaps f­uture m workers ­will think of the ‘Anthropocene’ as an alternative f­ uture, a bullet dodged, a fate avoided. Perhaps we have not yet hit the tipping point. We live in a world that has been radically transformed by h­ uman action: by the hunter-­gatherers who first set foot out of Africa, the farmers who worked the first fields, the sailors who established intercontinental trade, the coal miners and oil field workers who fueled the rise of mechanized industry—by all of ­these and more. ­W hether or not the ICS determines a GSSP for an ‘Anthropocene’ is irrelevant to that. We hold the golden spike in our hands. The past is the past, and lies beyond the scope of ­human influence. The Anthropocene is not about the past. It is about our f­uture. It is our ­f uture. The ­future begins now. This is a new age, an Age of Reckoning. The choices we make ­today, as individuals and communities, as corporations and nation-­states, w ­ ill transform our world in ways that we can predict and in ways that ­will only become clear in hindsight. We live in a dynamic world where energy and information are still fundamentally changing both ­labor and leisure. We can work ­toward a world of universal comfort and leisure, where h­ umans live healthy, creative, and productive lives with the assistance of technology, and work to preserve the diversity of species we share our planet with. We could stand by and watch as billions suffer crushing poverty and oppression enforced by ­those same tools for the benefit of a privileged elite, while yet another mass extinction unfolds. Do we choose the dragon’s hoard, or the phoenix’s egg?

Notes 1. ​David  L. Kidder and Thomas  R. Worsley, “A Human-­Induced Hot­house Climate?” GSA

­Today 22, no. 2 (February 2012): 4–11, https://­doi​.­org​/­10​.­1130​/­G131A​.­1. 2. ​Michael W. Broadley et al., “End-­Permian Extinction Amplified by Plume-­induced Release of Recycled Lithospheric Volatiles,” Nature Geoscience 11 (August 2018): 682–687, https://­doi​ .­org/ 10.1038/s41561-018-0215-4. 3. ​Kidder and Worsley, “Human-­Induced Hot­house Climate?” 4–11. 4. ​Michael M. Joachimski et al., “Climate Warming in the Latest Permian and the Permian–­ Triassic Mass Extinction,” Geology 40, no. 3 (March 2012): 195–198, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1130​ /G32707.1. 5. ​Michael  J. Benton, “Hyperthermal-­Driven Mass Extinctions: Killing Models during the Permian–­Triassic Mass Extinction,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 376, no. 2130 (October 2018): https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1098/rsta.2017.0076. 6. ​Peter Brannen, “The Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction,” The Atlantic, June 2017, https://­www​.­theatlantic​.­com​/­science​/­archive​/­2017​/­06​/­the​-­ends​-­of​-­the​-­world​/­5 29545​/­. 7. ​Yin Hongfu et al., “The Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Permian–­Triassic Boundary,” Episodes 24, no. 2 ( June 2001): 102–114, www​.s­ tratigraphy​.o­ rg​/­bak​/­Induan​.­pdf. 8. ​Rachel K. Paull and Richard A. Paull, “Shallow Marine Sedimentary Facies in the Earliest Triassic (Griesbachian) Cordilleran Miogeocline, U.S.A.,” Sedimentary Geology 93, no.  3–4 (November 1994): 181–191, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1016/0037-0738(94)90004-3.

What’s Past Is Prologue 47

9. ​Stanley C. Finney and Lucy E. Edwards, “The ‘Anthropocene’ Epoch: Scientific Decision or

Po­liti­cal Statement?” GSA T ­ oday 26, no. 3 (March/April 2016): 4–10, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1130​ /GSATG270A.1. 10. ​Valenti Rull, “What If the ‘Anthropocene’ Is Not Formalized as a New Geological Series/ Epoch?” Quaternary 1, no. 24 (October 2018): 1–7, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.3390/quat1030024. 11. ​David  L. Rodland and David  J. Bottjer, “Biotic Recovery from the End-­Permian Mass Extinction: Be­hav­ior of the Inarticulate Brachiopod Lingula as a Disaster Taxon,” PALAIOS 16, no. 1 (February 2001): 95–101, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.2307/3515554. 12. ​Paul Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer, “The ‘Anthropocene,’ ” Global Change Newsletter 41 (May 2000):17–18, http://­www​.­igbp​.­net​/­download​/­18​.­316f18321323470177580001401​/­137638​3088​452​ /­NL41​.­pdf. 13. ​Daniel H. Rothman, “Thresholds of Catastrophe in the Earth System,” Science Advances 3, no. 9 (September 2017), https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/sciadv.1700906. 14. ​Seth D. Burgess, James D. Muirhead, and Sam A. Bowring, “Initial Pulse of Siberian Traps Sills as the Trigger of the End-­Permian Mass Extinction,” Nature Communications 8, no.  164 ( July 2017), https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/s41467-017-00083-9. 15. ​Thomas  J. Algeo and Stephen  E. Scheckler, “Terrestrial-­Marine Teleconnections in the Devonian: Links between the Evolution of Land Plants, Weathering Pro­cesses, and Marine Anoxic Events,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 353, no. 1365 ( January 1998): 113–130, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1098/rstb.1998.0195. 16. ​Yinon  M. Bar-­On, Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo, “The Biomass Distribution on Earth,” PNAS 115, no. 25 ( June 19, 2018): 6506–6511, https://­doi​.­org​/1­ 0.1073/pnas.1711842115. 17. ​Scott Jasechko et al., “Terrestrial W ­ ater Fluxes Dominated by Transpiration,” Nature 496 (April 2013): 347–351, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature11983. 18. ​Anthony Drew Muscente et al., “Quantifying Ecological Impacts of Mass Extinctions with Network Analy­sis of Fossil Communities,” PNAS (April 2018), https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas​.1719976115. 19. ​Fridolin Krausmann et  al., “Global ­Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production Doubled in the 20th  ­Century,” PNAS 110, no.  25 ( June  2013): 10324–10329, https://­doi​.­org​ /­10.1073/pnas.1211349110. 20. ​Rodolfo Dirzo et al., “Defaunation in the ‘Anthropocene,’ ” Science 345, no. 6195 ( July 2014): 401–406, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/science.1251817. 21. ​Ron Shimelmitz et al., “ ‘Fire at ­Will’: The Emergence of Habitual Fire Use 350,000 Years Ago,” Journal of ­Human Evolution 77 (December  2014): 196–203, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1016/j.jhevol​ .2014.07.005. 22. ​John A. J. Gowlett, “The Discovery of Fire by H ­ umans: A Long and Convoluted Pro­cess,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences 371, no.  1696 ( June  2016), http://­doi​.­org​/­10​.­1098​/­rstb​.­2015​.­0164. 23. ​Richard Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us ­Human (New York: Basic Books 2009), 320. 24. ​Jed O. Kaplan et al., “Large Scale Anthropogenic Reduction of Forest Cover in Last Glacial Maximum Eu­rope,” PLoS One 11, no. 11 (November 2016), https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1371/journal.pone​.0166726. 25. ​Robert E. Kopp et al., “Probabilistic Assessment of Sea Level during the Last Interglacial Stage,” Nature 462 (December 2009): 863–867, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature08686. 26. ​United Nations Treaty Collection, Paris Agreement, July 2016, https://­treaties​.­un​.­org​/­doc​ /­Treaties​/­2016​/­02​/­20160215%2006​-­03%20PM​/­Ch​_­XXVII​-­7​-­d​.­pdf. 27. ​Chris Clarkson et  al., “­Human Occupation of Northern Australia by 65,000  Years Ago,” Nature 547 ( July 2017): 306–310, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature22968. 28. ​Sander van der Kaars et al., “­Humans Rather Than Climate the Primary Cause of Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinction in Australia,” Nature Communications 8, article no. 14142 ( January 2017), https://­doi: 10.1038/ncomms14142.


Dav id L . Rodl a nd

29. ​Tom  D. Dillehay et  al., “New Archaeological Evidence for an Early ­Human Presence at

Monte Verde, Chile,” PLoS One (November 2015), https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1371/journal.pone.0141923. 30. ​Jessica L. Metcalf et al., “Synergistic Roles of Climate Warming and ­Human Occupation in Patagonian Megafaunal Extinctions during the Last Deglaciation,” Science Advances 2, no.  6 ( June 2016), https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/sciadv.1501682. 31. ​David W. Steadman et al., “Asynchronous Extinction of Late Quaternary Sloths on Continents and Islands,” PNAS 102, no. 33 (2005): 11763–11768, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.0502777102. 32. ​Mike Walker et al., “Formal Definition and Dating of the GSSP (Global Stratotype Section and Point) for the Base of the Holocene Using the Greenland NGRIP Ice Core, and Selected Auxiliary Rec­ords,” Journal of Quaternary Science 24, no. 1 (October 2008): 3–17, https://­doi​.­org​ /­10.1002/jqs.1227. 33. ​Lisa Nagaoka, Torben Rick, and Steve Wolverton, “The Overkill Model and Its Impact on Environmental Research,” Ecol­ogy and Evolution (September 2018), https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1002​ /ece3.4393. 34. ​Christopher E. Doughty, Adam Wolf, and Yadvinder Malhi, “The Legacy of the Pleistocene Megafauna Extinctions on Nutrient Availability in Amazonia,” Nature Geoscience 6 (August 2013): 761–764, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/ngeo1895. 35. ​Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Dept. of Energy, “Estimated U.S. Energy Consumption in 2017: 97.7 Quads,” accessed September 2018, https://­flowcharts​.­llnl​.­gov​/­content​/­assets​ /­images​/­energy​/­us​/­Energy​_­US​_­2017​.­png. 36. ​Gregg Marland, T. A. Boden, and R. J. Andres, “Global, Regional, and National CO2 Emissions,” Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change (Carbon Dioxide Information Analy­sis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, United States Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, TN, 2007). 37. ​IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), http://­www​.­ipcc​.c­ h​/­report​/­ar5​/­wg1​/­. 38. ​IPCC. 39. ​IPCC. 40. ​Stephen J. Vavrus et al., “Glacial Inception in Marine Isotope Stage 19: An Orbital Analog for a Natu­ral Holocene Climate,” Scientific Reports 8, no. 10213 ( July 2018), https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038​ /s41598-018-28419-5. 41. ​Federal Reserve Board of St. Louis, “Total Employment: Coal Mining,” accessed September 23, 2018, https://­fred​.­stlouisfed​.­org​/­series​/­CEU1021210001#0. 42. ​Energy Information Administration, “Annual Coal Production,” accessed September  23, 2018, http://­www​.­eia​.­gov​/­totalenergy​/­data​/­annual​/­pdf​/­sec7​_­7​.­pdf. 43. ​Oxfam, “Extreme Carbon In­equality,” December 2, 2015, https://­d1tn3vj7xz9fdh​.­cloudfront​ .­net​/­s3fs​-­public​/­file​_­attachments​/­mb​-­extreme​-­carbon​-­inequality​-­021215​-­en​.­pdf. 44. ​Oxfam, “Extreme Carbon In­equality.” 45. ​Sophie Bonjour et al., “Solid Fuel Use for House­hold Cooking: Country and Regional Estimates for 1980–2010,” Environmental Health Perspectives 121, no. 7 (May 2013): 784–790, https://­ doi​.­org​/­10.1289/ehp.1205987. 46. ​John K. Kodros et al., “Quantifying the Contribution to Uncertainty in Mortality Attributed to House­hold, Ambient, and Joint Exposure to PM2.5 from Residential Solid Fuel Use,” GeoHealth 2, no. 1 (December 2017): 25–39, https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1002/2017GH000115. 47. ​P. Thomas Schoenemann, “Evolution of the Size and Functional Areas of the ­Human Brain,” Annual Review of Anthropology 35 (September 2006): 379–406, https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1146/annurev​ .anthro.35.081705.123210. 48. ​Ralph Thomlinson, Demographic Prob­lems: Controversy over Population Control, 2nd ed. (Encino, CA: Dickenson, 1975). 49. ​Li Liu et al., “Fermented Beverage and Food Storage in 13,000 y-­old Stone Mortars at Raqefet Cave, Israel: Investigating Natufian Ritual Feasting,” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 21 (September 2018): 783–793, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.08.008.

What’s Past Is Prologue 49

50. ​Klaus Schmidt, “Göbekli Tepe—­The Stone Age Sanctuaries: New Results of Ongoing

Excavations with a Special Focus on Sculptures and High Reliefs,” Documenta Praehistorica 37 (2010): 239–256, https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.4312/dp.37.21. 51. ​Schmidt, “Göbekli Tepe.” 52. ​Julia Gresky, Juliane Haelm, and Lee Clare, “Modified ­Human Crania from Göbekli Tepe Provide Evidence for a New Form of Neolithic Skull Cult,” Science Advances 3, no. 6 ( June 2017), https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/sciadv.1700564i. 53. ​Robin McKie, “10,000  Years of Cheers: Why Social Drinking Is an Ancient Ritual,” The Guardian, September 1, 2018, https://­www​.t­ heguardian​.­com​/­society​/­2018​/­sep​/­01​/­social​-­drinking​ -­moderation​-­health​-r­ isks. 54. ​Patrick Roberts et al., “The Deep H ­ uman Prehistory of Global Tropical Forests and Its Relevance for Modern Conservation,” Nature Plants 3, no. 17093 (August 2017): 1–9, https://­doi​ .­org​/­10.1038/nplants.2017.93. 55. ​UNESCO, “Ancient Jericho: Tell es-­Sultan,” accessed September  26, 2018, https://­whc​ .­unesco​.­org​/­en​/­tentativelists​/­6545​/­. 56. ​Mélanie Roffet-­Salque et al., “Evidence for the Impact of the 8.2-­kyBP Climate Event on Near Eastern Early Farmers,” PNAS 115, no.  35 (August  2018): 8705–8709, https://­doi​.­org​ /­10.1073/pnas.1803607115. 57. ​Leonid W. King, A History of Sumer and Akkad (CreateSpace In­de­pen­dent Publishing Platform, 2015), 186. 58. ​Greger Larson et  al., “Current Perspectives and the ­Future of Domestication Studies,” PNAS 111, no. 17 (April 2014): 6139–6146, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.1323964111. 59. ​Rob Dunn, “A Science Miniseries: The Big Story of Alcohol, Civilization and a ­Little Fungus,” Scientific American Guest Blog, February 2012, https://­blogs​.s­ cientificamerican​.­com​/­guest​ -­blog​/­a-​ s­ cience​-­miniseries​-­the​-­big​-­story​-o­ f​-­alcohol​-­civilization​-­and​-­a​-­little​-­fungus​/­. 60. ​Mark Dyble et al., “Engagement in Agricultural Work Is Associated with Reduced Leisure Time among Agta Hunter-­Gatherers,” Nature ­Human Be­hav­ior 3, no. 8. (May 2019): 792–796, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/s41562-019-0614-6. 61. ​Abigail E. Page et al., “Reproductive Trade-­offs in Extant Hunter-­Gatherers Suggest Adaptive Mechanism for the Neolithic Expansion,” PNAS 113, no.  17 (April  2016): 4694–4699, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.1524031113. 62. ​Vaclav Smil, “Global Population: Milestones, Hopes, and Concerns,” Medicine & Global Survival 5, no. 2 (October 1998): 105–108. 63. ​Sean W. Hixon et al., “The Colossal Hats (Pukao) of Monumental Statues on Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile): Analyses of Pukao Variability, Transport, and Emplacement,” Journal of Archaeological Science (May 2018), https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1016/j.jas.2018.04.011. 64. ​Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Princi­ple of Population As It Affects the F ­ uture Improvement of Society, with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Goodwin, M. Condorcet and Other Writers (London: J. Johnson in St Paul’s Church-­yard, 1798). 65. ​Yansui Liu and Yuheng Li, “Revitalize the World’s Countryside,” Nature 548, no.  7667 (August 2017): 275–277, https://­doi:10.1038/548275a. 66. ​United Nations, “The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015,” http://­www​.­un​.­org​ /­millenniumgoals​/­2015​_­MDG​_­Report​/­pdf​/­MDG%202015%20rev%20( July%201)​.­pdf. 67. ​Deborah Hardoon, Ricardo Fuentes-­Nieva, and Sophia Ayele, An Economy For the 1%: How Privilege and Power in the Economy Drive Extreme In­equality and How This Can Be S­ topped, Oxfam, January 2016, https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.21201/2016.592643. 68. ​Credit Suisse Research Institute, “Global Wealth Report 2013,” accessed September 27, 2018, https://­www​.c­ redit​-­suisse​.c­ om​/­about​-­us​/­en​/­reports​-­research​/­global​-­wealth​-r­ eport​.­html. 69. ​Jianfeng Li et  al., “Elevated Increases in Human-­Perceived Temperature ­under Climate Warming,” Nature Climate Change 8 (January  2018): 43–47, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/s41558-017​ -0036-2.


Dav id L . Rodl a nd

70. ​Andrea Dutton et al., “Sea-­Level Rise Due to Polar Ice-­Sheet Mass Loss during Past Warm

Periods,” Science 49, no. 6244 ( July 2015): aaa4019, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/science.aaa4019. 71. ​Sven N. Willner et al., “Adaptation Required to Preserve ­Future High-­End River Flood Risk at Pre­sent Levels,” Science Advances 4, no. 1 ( January 2018): eaao1914, https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1126/ sciadv.aao1914. 72. ​Climate Central, “Coastal Nations, Megacities Face 20 Feet of Sea Rise,” July 9, 2015, http://­ www​.­climatecentral​.­org​/­news​/­nations​-­megacities​-f­ ace​-­20​-­feet​-­of​-­sea​-­level​-­rise​-­19217. 73. ​Tom Gleeson et al., “­Water Balance of Global Aquifers Revealed by Groundwater Footprint,” Nature 488 (August 2012): 197–200, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature11295. 74. ​Food and Agriculture Organ­ization of the United Nations, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2018,” accessed September 27, 2018, http://­www​.­fao​.­org​/­state​-­of​-­food​ -­security​-­nutrition​/­en​/­. 75. ​World Health Organ­ization, “Health and Environment Ministers Pledge Climate Actions to Reduce 12.6 Million Environment-­related Deaths,” November  2016, http://­www​.w ­ ho​.i­nt​ /­globalchange​/­mediacentre​/­news​/­ministers​-­pledge​-c­ limate​-­actions​/­en​/­. 76. ​International Organ­ization for Migration, “Migration, Climate Change and the Environment: A Complex Nexus,” accessed September 27, 2018, https://­www​.­iom​.­int​/­complex​-­nexus#estimates. 77. ​Andrew  H. Knoll et  al., “The Ediacaran Period: A New Addition to the Geologic Time Scale,” Lethaia 39 (March 2006): 13–30, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1080/00241160500409223. 78. ​Bing Shen et al., “The Avalon Explosion: Evolution of Ediacara Morphospace.” Science 319, no. 5859 ( January 2008): 81–84, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/science.1150279. 79. ​Martin Brasier, John Cowie, and Michael Taylor, “Decision on the Precambrian–­Cambrian Boundary Stratotype,” Episodes 17, no. 1 and 2 (March and June 1994): 95–100. 80. ​Adolf Seilacher and Friedrich Pflüger, “From Biomats to Benthic Agriculture: A Biohistoric Revolution,” in Biostabilization of Sediments, ed. W. E. Krumbein, D. M. Peterson, and L. J. Stal, 97–105 (Odenburg: Bibliotheks-­und Informationssystem der Carl von Ossietzky Universität, 1994). 81. ​Sebastiaan van de Velde et al., “Early Palaeozoic Ocean Anoxia and Global Warming Driven by the Evolution of Shallow Burrowing,” Nature Communications 9, no. 2554 ( July 2018), https://­ doi​.­org​/­10.1038/s41467-018-04973-4. 82. ​Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, “Working Group on the ‘Anthropocene,’ ” accessed September 27, 2018, http://­quaternary​.­stratigraphy​.­org​/­working​-­groups​/­’Anthropocene’​/­. 83. ​Robert Roy Britt, “Pluto Demoted: No Longer a Planet in Highly Controversial Definition,” Space​.­com, August 24, 2006, https://­www​.­space​.­com​/­2791​-­pluto​-­demoted​-­longer​-­planet​ -­highly​-c­ ontroversial​-­definition​.­html. 84. ​Kirby D. Runyon et al., “A Geophysical Planet Definition,” Lunar and Planetary Science 48 (February 2017): 1448, https://­www​.­hou​.­usra​.­edu​/­meetings​/­lpsc2017​/­pdf​/­1448​.­pdf. 85. ​Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-­Glass (London: Macmillan, 1872), 224. 86. ​Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, “Defining the ‘Anthropocene,’ ” Nature 519 (March 23, 2015): 171–180, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature14258. 87. ​William F. Ruddiman, “The Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis: Challenges and Responses,” Reviews of Geophysics 45, no. RG4001 (October 2007): 1–37, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1029/2006RG000207. 88. ​Colin N. ­Waters et al., “The ‘Anthropocene’ Is Functionally and Stratigraphically Distinct from the Holocene,” Science 351, no. 6259 ( January 2016), https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1126/science.aad2622. 89. ​William F. Ruddiman, “Three Flaws in Defining a Formal ‘Anthropocene,’ ” Pro­gress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment 42, no.  4 ( July  13, 2018): 451–461, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1177​ /0309133318783142.



he year 2018 saw the announcement that, without a fundamental change to the systems by which h­ umans or­ga­nize and administer life, environmental disaster cannot be avoided and w ­ ill be total—­the same point made in critiques of the cap­it­ al­ist crisis. Life w ­ ill not go on without structural change. The only real question is when, exactly, life ­will end. Film and lit­er­a­ture have mediated the end of the world via forms of per­sis­tence that remain, and a central concern is with the conflicting logics of domination and action in domesticated responses to the crisis: the liberal-­industrial framework expects to employ the same tools of oppression and domination underpinning capitalism in the rescue effort called for by the global crisis of ecological disaster. The expressive works examined herein suggest forms of action immanent to the oppressed laboring bodies dominated in that structure. One employs the formation—­a football play—­against or­ga­nized riot police. The difference is in the application of expertise and the means of production in the de­mo­li­tion of the intended productivity. This is the divergence of active re­sis­tance to the oppressive structure from per­for­mances of re­sis­tance that remain within that structure and demand protection by the same oppressive forces they purport to resist. 51


Ted Geier

The figure I ­will arrive at to articulate the trou­ble with the Anthropocene and the vacuity of Anthropocene per­for­mance is this: l­abor presumes someone is doing/has done something. But the Anthropocene, in forming time as a ­human composition of geologic scale—­even as a supposed “mere” measurement—­turns humanity’s work into the world itself by assigning all t­ hings to calculable economics, statistics, dimensions, and scales. This is the “Anthropocene per­for­mance”: an endless diagnostic work already assured of its immediate obsolescence. That is, rendering the now of the planet as “Anthropocene” means the planet has already been rendered a corpse, a d­ ying object produced by h­ umans. Worse than that: it’s already dead, apparently. Consider the protestor hugging the police officer, for example—­the protest is not of power and domination, and certainly not of the forms of disaster most pressing upon the world in the environmental crisis. Th ­ ese are symbolic actions like the leisurely privilege of traveling cross-­country wearing special handicraft hats indicative of leisure time activities that commemorate prior forms of feminized ­labor: the idea of an action, the careful stylization of re­sis­tance and refusal, yet without actually undoing the central structures of oppression and suffering while still feeling very impor­tant and good. We shine a fierce light on the difficulty of mobilizing the tools and markers of oppression as a protest of a distasteful power scenario without actually breaking any of the ­actual classes of privilege in the pro­cess. This kind of conceptual per­for­mance, like the term “Anthropocene,” takes up the assumption of an already-­destroyed world that it must further analyze in order to actually, technically, “save” it. The type of immanent critique I have in mind is common to apocalyptic works on the insufficiency yet total efficacy of expressive works proposing that the tools of capitalism and the forms of oppression they enforce can be part of a solution, but not in the forms thus far assumed and accepted. In fact, to the contrary, some of t­hose statically optimistic intentions reiterate the corpsed “life” of the world anew. What is sal­vaged and protected in t­hese per­for­mances is not the suffering mass but the already privileged few. The popu­lar culture habituation of cathartic resolutions—­happy endings that essentially turn films, books, and more into Happy Meals with reliable parts and outcomes—­ends up contaminating just about ­every attempt to confront the end of the world with an equally stunted generic expectation: hope, re­sis­tance, perseverance, and resilience. ­These conventions simply do not mediate the material realities and objectifications of this world and its impeded futurities. It certainly still makes sense that some world ­will go on, and some clear understanding of the f­uture a­ fter ­humans, ­because of h­ umans, and so on. But the sorts of works focused on in this chapter are especially representative of the stunted analy­sis that speculates on some imaginary, hopeful futurity premised on an already-­privileged subject position that enjoys the grossly uneven distribution of wealth and infrastructure our world promises to never give up, even when proposing the most radical end of the world, the most openly acknowledged ­human responsibility for that “end.” The liberal myth of meaningful individual life within

Anthropocene Performance 53

figure 2.1. AUTO rejects returning to Earth in the film WALL-­E (Pixar 2008).

capitalism may be at the heart of this hubris, and yet its ­counter is the prima facie meaningful lives undone by capitalism; ­there is no relief from capitalism before the world has ended. And we witness again and again how brutally and competently the privileged few defend their turf when the crisis comes. In fact, that is often the ideal moment to strike and consolidate wealth, lock in authority over real­ity and its permissible, pos­si­ble solutions. Even Disney has weighed in on apocalypse and survival in WALL-­E with a hazy sense of the bodies and lives that m ­ atter: “I d­ on’t want to survive. I want to live!” is the captain’s rejoinder to the computer AUTO in WALL-­E, who has told him that “on the Axiom, you ­will survive.”1 (See Figure 2.1.) The Axiom is one of the latter-­ day arks sent off of a barren earth corpsed by h­ uman systems already. Pixar poses an evangelical techno-­solution trope in response to techno-­industrial devastation. The contingent resolution of automated, homogeneous “life” is a missed step (WALL-­E slips on a hovercraft, turning off a telescreen) by a sentient lonely robot lusting ­after the pure white EVE robot with real life locked in her programmed womb—­the plant that Earth can apparently bear once again a­ fter centuries of barrenness thanks to the Anthropocene (which thus may mean it is not actually the Anthropocene). Disney’s calculation of life is fairly conventional in its nuclear vitality: the c­ ouple, their produce, meaning or quality beyond function, be­hav­ior, automatic action. Absent in WALL-­E’s calculus are billions of other h­ umans and countless nonhumans lost and gone while the ship that escaped and survived churns on up in space, returning in what is surely no Arcadian myth but is, all the same, the dream of erased apocalyptic landscapes that can host a bootstrapping New Survivalism (what­ever the ad wizards would coin it), or something like the weird brand of tech + primitive civilization in the film’s close. If WALL-­E privileges a ­limited h­ uman population that can return and “reboot” Earth from seed atop the compost of extinction, other critiques consider the population refused by capitalism before that disaster. Mike Davis’s Planet of Slums shows the gathering intensity of populations—­more than half of the world’s p­ eople live in


Ted Geier

cities now—­undoing fundamental conceptions of or­ga­nized civic space and l­ abor sources.2 ­There is more l­abor (more laborers/bodies available for l­abor) than work. The surplus population improvises and “merely” survives as an “informal urban proletariat” that does not rebuild, recover, or undo the terrors of the corporate Anthropocene.3 They make do, barely, and perhaps not for long. The resilience myth, on the other hand, is one of the favorite stories to tell about the interminable ending of slow climate vio­lence. Consider, for example, the wily band of abject, natu­ral survivors in Beasts of the Southern Wild.4 A massive storm and its floodwaters threaten a small community in the Louisiana bayou. They refuse social ser­vices help and escape the institutional hospitals and shelters to return home and face the storm on their own terms. As w ­ aters further separate a bayou population from the circuitry of civilization, folks apparently band together and confront the forces of nature and get to work in defiant toughness at the end. They must overcome a mythical, primordial beast brought back by the ecological disaster when the melted polar ice unleashes prehistoric creatures called aurochs. Salvation comes in the form of a magical young Black girl, another favorite trope of the White author attempting to negotiate the deep systems of their own privilege.5 This is an empowering, defiant hopefulness. Even before the millennium, studies concluded that “the relationship of powerlessness to environmental be­hav­ior was stronger for African Americans than Euro-­Americans.”6 The film, on its surface, refuses the idea that rescuers w ­ ill be White or thoroughly integrated with networks of functional cap­it­ al­ist systems and their institutions of properly managed, expert medical and social ser­vices. Similarly, ethical eating decisions and narratives of personal responsibility tethered to collective action such as recycling are considered affluent White practices that African Americans in such studies did not identify with. While the real efforts of local communities to act on behalf of themselves and to determine forms of re­sis­tance must not be overlooked in articulating this structural injustice, the fact of unequal racial injustice cannot be braided neatly with the fantasy of individual, organic, immanent re­sis­tance by an afflicted community. Environmental justice has made it quite clear that communities of color and impoverished areas disproportionately suffer the effects of global climate change and corporate pollution.7 Hushpuppy, in the film, is practically an orphan. The film employs that standard fairy-­tale trope through a distant, troubled f­ ather figure and an absent, earthy ­mother figure (a cook—­a professionalized domestic art form). The critique of nuclear ­family expectations is less ste­reo­typical and problematized in other parts of the film, such as in the unified suffering and revelry of the local community as the storm comes. And yet, that presumption of the resilient melting pot in the face of disaster indicates the fantasy of the film’s White affluent authors. Perhaps they cannot be faulted for writing in the brief “era” of hope in the long liberal wake of Obama, who still attends the rumored disaster of what has come ­after him as his ­family’s personal portfolio expands while the getting is good. How can we hold

Anthropocene Performance 55

someone accountable for desiring and achieving t­hese dreams of affluence and stability, though, and who would dare to condescend? One conjecture ­here is that this financial escapism is in fact equally symptomatic of the disaster. Far from letting any of us off the hook, it points back to the structural affectation u­ nder capitalism that promotes technology and, indeed, capitalism itself as the saving power that can regulate itself in some New Deal 2.0 fantasy while the “flexible” global “disaster capitalism” of Milton Friedman runs amok and turns each new environmental crisis into a fabulous business opportunity. Alongside that effect of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism,” the suffering community and the profiting liberal alike also are simply coping, merely surviving, bracing and accumulating against what may come next.8 The decision to simply let the disaster come in Beasts of the Southern Wild is of a piece with a fatalism, a basic submission to that structure even though the film also suggests that the survivors rejected the managerial society that tried to rescue and heal them. Submission to the forces of crisis becomes a form of empowerment in the film. The gritty, in­de­pen­dent, “off the grid” rural White “opting out” of social ser­vices, taxation, laws is strikingly proximate to the multicultural survivalist dreamers in this film. The difference may be one of scale or simply of region, all of them responding to their specific abjection from the society that brought about ­these conditions in the first place. At other times, the film plays upon an old ste­ reo­type of the naturalized wisdom of Black knowledge and spiritual Black ­mothers in local contexts, such as the “earthy” teacher in the community’s small school­ house, Miss Bathsheba, talking about all creatures being the same in the class on life and science. This is where Hushpuppy learns about the science of climate and the existence of the aurochs, and thus when the film’s indulgent suggestion to write one’s own story of the world begins. If we recall the privileged Disney individualist hope—­life, not mere survival— we also now recall that the world lives in precarity as the rule, not the special exception. Protecting the salvation myths of liberal meritocrats means intentionally deflecting the true status of millions and billions as mere numbers, all of whom have already been existing as “underemployed,” a frame that also does nothing to undo the structural de­mo­li­tion of life u­ nder capitalism and con­ve­nient narratives of apocalypse → heroic survival and overcoming. It prob­ably does not help that among the oldest and most widely circulated, hegemonic examples of ­human narrative are hyper-­individuated, moralizing survival myths like the flood. To return to the question of life and the ethics of inclusion that this film’s wild-­ eyed equation of institutional liberal to native survivalist wages: very well-­tuned ecological thinkers can go deep indeed—­the h­ uman can end and life goes on, physical forces on the global and cosmological scale ­will continue regardless of ­human life, life on Earth, an earth at all. This galaxy brain can contain multitudes. It also contains the rational power to switch off structural critique where it most threatens to succeed—­the total end of the world that capitalism brings in this proven environmental crisis. If the system protects itself, it does so by activating a


Ted Geier

form of survivalism it calls innovation or competition, and that matches perfectly with the fantasy of re­sis­tance, per­sis­tence, resilience—­toughness and exceptionalism, essentially. The “shock and awe” of total system domination is a t­hing of beauty many already enjoy im­mensely in the safe havens of competitive sports, for example. The huge hit, the blowout win, the championship dynasty, the perfectly efficient team that tops e­ very statistical chart and sweeps e­ very series, the individual titan blasting impossible home runs—­each affirms the thoroughgoing profitability and collective desire for an aesthetics of dominance. The stock market also works as a game, and the analytics trend in professional sports economizes ­things as pro­cess and data while also propping up, so to speak, a massive global gambling economy.9 It becomes difficult to distinguish between the game spectators—­speculators now—­who are playing adjacent the game on the field or court (or wherever) from “the game itself,” difficult to say which is more supervenient on the other, which comes first and which the other cannot do without. Against the desire for dominance and the incessant drive t­ oward profit, countless individuals are calculated as the losers and the material sufferers of that domination: the props for the system, the fulcrum of competition’s beautiful destructions. This movement is totalizing and moves only in one direction. As Moishe Postone reiterates this fundamental aspect of ­human production and profit, “Capital tends to generate a constant acceleration in the growth of productivity.”10 Postone then continues, analyzing Marx’s specific comments on the domination and destruction of nature in agrarian society: “One consequence implied by this par­tic­ul­ ar dynamic—­ which yields increases in material wealth greater than t­ hose in surplus value—is the accelerating destruction of the natu­ral environment.”11 This corresponds to the prob­lem of surplus population—­surplus ­labor—­which Davis tracks in accord with boundless, “runaway” “self-­expansion” without end.12 This is one register of my title: endless work, forever work, pointless work, production that is only ever on the way to more production (even when masquerading as merely better production or “work smarter not harder,” the cap­it­al­ist’s credo). The other, then, is this prob­lem of ­people who have nothing to do as a part of a system that has objectified nature as a single-­track ­thing for consumption. Production does not need all the l­abor available in order to subsist—it lives well beyond mere survival, if the smarter-­not-­harder calculus is properly understood. But it also squeezes ever more ­labor out of the day and the individual as part of its logic. So ­there are countless nonworkers and also a few billion who work in some function of the system yet merely surviving, constantly ­under exploitative duress, by design. The answer to the environmental disaster is ­simple: Stop it. ­Don’t. A word like “Anthropocene” identifies the dominant reason. But it also undoes—­works through— a world articulated as a technical t­ hing or even a t­ hing called nature. Properly naming the worst ­thing does not better express the crisis or more convincingly persuade its brokers. One does not change the world merely via descriptive powers. More difficult to engage is the lack of all responsibility for the crisis actually held by the individual “laborer” using a plastic straw or taking a long shower one day. If

Anthropocene Performance 57

the alienation from the means of production is already assured, cleaning up a­ fter production is easy to reject outright or take on, as so many do, as the green guilt of the world not solving, only diagnosing and suffering, laboring ­under that identity. Critique has this bad habit—­call it a compulsion or an affliction—­and thus becomes the easiest ­thing to quickly reject for the rational, practical, solutions-­oriented escape artist. The objectification of the nonhuman and the h­ uman alike posed by “the Anthropocene” reiterates the prospect view, an elevated vantage point (an advantage) from which a privileged ­human subject surveys the landscape, evaluates, assesses in the rational and economic sense of taking account and assignation. In short, the “over ­there” or “this is it” naturalization permits additional concepts such as technology, ­human, artificial, industrial. At times, this occasions the expressive work of poetry, painting, cinema. That re-­presentation permits reflection, consideration, even concern. And although repre­sen­ta­tions (models and ideas-of) can become protective instruments, one can also simply find a method of caring for and about the t­ hing one si­mul­ta­neously destroys in objectification. Clearly, the prob­lem is structural, general objectification in capitalism. This points in fact to the very heart of critique in the Anthropocene. This is particularly so if it is to be pinned to industrial emergency itself, in the form of emergent structuring technologies of mastery, organ­ization, and domination via civic spaces dependent upon the reliable production of energy (like food).13 The profit motivation is, as Andreas Malm has recently articulated, the emergent rationality of this epoch.14 Malm shows that the scale and type of industrial production and structural organ­ization responsible for the Anthropocene definitely starts in the nineteenth ­century. That is the elongated moment that assures that the end of the world has already happened, or at least has happened enough, to assure our mutual destruction. Malm retains hope for a livable ­future, but only given a total reversal of course that begins, essentially, now. His opening to the final chapter in Fossil Capital, “Time to Pull the Plugs: On CO2 as an Effluent of Power,” responds specifically to the notion that “if humanity as a w ­ hole drives the locomotive, t­ here is no one to depose. A revolt against business-­ as-­ usual becomes inconceivable.”15 Malm rejects the notion of “humanity’s” culpability, in the end, b­ ecause it is only some consumers—­ rampantly wasteful and privileged ones—­who truly drive the level of damage coined “the Anthropocene.” Malm also rejects the hubris of “the Anthropocene” and its fanciful lifeboat escape plans, opting for the “Capitalocene” as the proper name.16 Malm must close on a hopeful pessimism, “fighting from defeat,” quoting Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno and writing further that “a global climate movement is gathering momentum.”17 Adorno’s critique of concepts such as humanity, pro­gress, and nature is an especially instructive refusal of neat categorization of world object, calculable production. In his essay “On Pro­gress,” Adorno writes of ­humans being petrified, or more precisely, incapable of articulating an objective in response to the call to ­today’s “both utopian and absolutely destructive possibilities.”18 Adorno analyzed


Ted Geier

the Holocaust, the gathering atrocity of the unwinnable war in Vietnam, and the mass disintegration wielded—­guaranteed—by the apparatus that ended World War II, the atomic bomb. The nuclear peril then is much as the Anthropocene is now: assured termination of species, of existence, of life itself. The earth is risked by the innovations of the h­ uman, totally and in parts. While a “geological” scale decenters the ­human and assures that something might persist on even an evacuated rock with a drastically revised atmosphere and set of life supports, the crisis is defined by the inhospitable, even alien state of the world imposed by industrial production. Numbers on how many millions of years it w ­ ill take species to recover from h­ uman industry are already easily available, and the percentage of species exterminated altogether over such-­and-­such years, likewise.19 ­These quantities and rates do not inveigh against ­things—­life goes on, and that is the prob­lem. This confidence of progression is a sustaining experience of the pre­sent (1962 or 2020). Adorno is not opposed to the “technological solution,” in theory. As he continues in the essay, “With the pre­sent state of technical forces of production, no one on earth needs to suffer poverty.”20 ­Here is where Adorno’s sense of the “technological” perhaps best reveals itself as social self-­consciousness capable of organ­ization and provision: “As to ­whether t­here continues to be want and suppression—­both are one—­this ­will be de­cided solely by warding off catastrophe through a rational establishment of overall society as humankind.”21 And further: “­Today such reflections come to a head in contemplation of w ­ hether humankind is able to prevent catastrophe. The forms of humankind’s own overall social constitution endanger its life insofar as no self-­conscious overall subject develops and intervenes. The possibility of pro­gress—of averting utmost, total disaster—­has devolved to this overall subject alone.”22 The material recognition expressed by “The Anthropocene” accords with the basic sense of ­humans and nature in Marx and Postone and the structural prob­lem of the “work without ends” pairing introduced e­ arlier: t­ here is not enough work to be done to save the world defined as, precisely, that which is to be worked on, identified, lost, or mourned. Work has already undone so much by d­ oing more than can be experienced, calculated, or empathized. This is to take the conditions of “The Anthropocene” quite seriously: ­labor already proj­ects itself—­its life and impossible death—­into the ­future as an unsettling scalar rhe­toric of half-­lives. Put simply, the “atomic” longevity of h­ uman industry unleashed a sublime, overwhelming totality of destruction with the bomb and an irremediable contamination well beyond any sense of ­human generations, lifespans, or even geologic scale. Improvement and recovery must be mea­sured and conceived of in impossible tens of thousands of years. And now, when the nuclear is displaced by “The Anthropocene,” one rationality is disposed of before its time. The world presented as this decaying life cannot possibly be worked on or for by the laborers who already work on it for capital’s logic. Life is in essence decay already, if a total calculation of contaminations and risks is known and then worked against—­this endless work is done before its time. Such a sense of the world takes up all of the calculable work product,

Anthropocene Performance 59

which is the effort of the exploited and alienated populations risked in the disaster of the Anthropocene. It converts them now into the collective cause of the disaster. Claiming individuated responsibility in the neoliberal aspirational society cannot possibly fit the disaster of capitalism’s structural turning away from responsibility in its most accelerated period. The billions in the slums, the folks in Beasts of the Southern Wild, any other characters in ­these narratives and fantasies of civilization are doubly excluded, exploited, alienated, and made to suffer to the bitterest end. One ­either accepts the agency of capitalism at this point, or one cares not at all for the persons and bodies documented as living, surviving, subsisting, persisting, resisting—­however the my­thol­ogy of the day coins ­people and every­one ­people ­won’t call p­ eople. This atrophic modernity is a wasteland without content, a vacant mass corpse without the subject of a life to be risked yet wholly conceived, articulated and formed, unapproachable, and incommensurable with the ­human. “Atrophic” ­here means something akin to the walking dead, ­those so starved and exhausted that they ­were resigned to the fate of the camps of the Holocaust u­ nder the Nazis, for example. What should be the alarming horror and mobilization of the nonhuman in the inhumane life that is no life is that we may add this “for example” at all. That ­there is a word employed by the walking dead themselves—­Muselmänner—­that has since been theorized and analyzed as a condition of total objectification and extermination is once again to abbreviate the life of no-­life and petrify it as a historical fact, an epochal or contextual precision.23 The Anthropocene was one word (or two, but one definite-­article concept frozen in time) to sum up the conditions of the world already made and afflicted, now, this time, actually at the last doomsday clock tick that can still be halted somehow. One laborer cannot solve this prob­ lem, if the very system that articulates the laboring subject is itself to blame. Returning to Adorno’s difficult point about humanity and “its” pro­gress: the work can be collectivized in its production, and hence all of that work that has already been produced the bomb, produced the nitrogen-­fix, produced the refinery, produced the decaying residue and circulatory microplastics. Th ­ ese disasters are their assumed cost, as none has ever been an active impediment to profit and its maintenance. Supposedly we are at the last “end of the world,” and it turns out to be more simply put only the latest “last normal” a g­ rand “we” could pro­gress through, overcome, mitigate. But capital’s winning adherents have built their shelters and are preparing their escapes, even against a purported ocean rise, temperature spike, relative scarcity, what­ever it ­will be. Just as the Axiom of WALL-­E engineered food production and waste disposal solutions, capital assures itself of survival ­under any circumstances, any conditions. Life’s particularity defines precarity against an industrial globality. Antecedents to this claim include Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, in which “all is corpsed” out the win­dow of the bomb shelter.24 Anthropocene technicity works, from the bomb shelter of analy­sis, on a lifeless body and an “all” evacuated of value in its formal existence, not in any singular death, and given over to economized forms of nonlife.


Ted Geier

­ abor presumes someone is doing/has done something. And so h­ ere I return to L the opening figure: The Anthropocene, in forming time as a h­ uman composition of geologic scale—­even as a supposed “mere” measurement—­turns humanity’s work into the world itself by assigning all ­things to such calculable economics, statistics, dimensions, and scales. This is the “Anthropocene per­for­mance”: an endless diagnostic work already assured of its immediate obsolescence. That is, rendering the now of the planet as “Anthropocene” means the planet has already been rendered a corpse, a ­dying object produced by ­humans. Worse than that: it’s already dead, apparently. Sounding the alarm at the crisis has been the primary gesture in this per­for­mance to date. The ideal audience for ­these gestures is not receptive at all. Compartmentalizing the environmental risk to life on Earth is a programmed practice of capital. As Postone notes, domination of nature is the fundamental ­human technique at the heart of capitalism, and thus the articulation of h­ uman ­labor forms. This is technology itself, in the flesh. Disney’s postapocalyptic reflection on ­these conditions, WALL-­E, this is not post-­anything at all—­there was a vast disaster, billions must have died, and only one of however many techno-­arks remains to salvage a life of some sort. But that life looks eerily reminiscent of con­temporary consumer culture. Didactic expression requires this familiarity. Some could survive the end of the world, it says, but then might only be left with a déclassé “survival” alone. They live, in the film, a life that is not life. This might only help to bolster the technocrat’s “strength in numbers” religious fervor and come up with the ideal survivor’s game and scheme, but for the film’s post-­disaster Arcadian return. Unlike the disaster cap­i­tal­ist’s desire to wipe the slate clean in a creative destruction that permits more efficient profit-­gaming, Pixar’s version is melancholic and attempts to commemorate the horror and loneliness of the disaster at least. The film’s prescription is not explic­itly against more stratification, as the story before the film’s events is that a select set of ­humans literally escaped Earth and must do so. This is the same logic that governs capital: it presumes a rigged game and actively plans for injustice as its central rule. The theorists, to date, have described injustice. The point is to design and wield it. In some moments, ­doing so invisibly seems ideal. In ­others, perhaps alarming and shocking its victims is the right way to go. Consider again, for example, the basic point of Klein’s massive study of disaster capitalism in The Shock Doctrine. Time and again, the disaster is a profit opportunity. Stunning and subduing ­people is not experienced as a natu­ral event to respond to and resist, it is the intentional h­ uman event at the heart of cap­it­ al­ist accumulation and profit infrastructures. In short, the Anthropocenic environmental event is the grandest business opportunity in h­ uman history. It pushes the logic of endless ­labor to the absolute extreme. One must always be working on it somehow, at all hours, if we are to survive. Th ­ ere is no escape from the crisis, and the naturalization of work at the heart of this mood and condition thus doubles down on the very cause of the malaise, the cap­it­ al­ist capture and exploitation of resources and of ­labor. Corporate versions of action and response ­will not function for the environmental disaster in any way, even as the aspirations for benevolent business ventures—­wind,

Anthropocene Performance 61

solar, geoengineering, composting—­strike a hopeful tune for many. This suggests, broadly, the prob­lem of power and the trou­ble with trying to wield it benevolently as part of a system that rejects structural benevolence as its central tenet. Environmental reparation and greenwashing can continue to make enough money for at least some power­ful interests, and consumer demand virally aligns against plastic straws on cue, like a bandwagon eco-­fan. What is upon us is an era in which t­ here is no safely enjoyable prospect view, si­mul­ta­neously an era of anti-­expertise. But where then do we start, and who would be worthy, if dominance without ethics is not permissible in ecological life and the systemic, destructive logic and its effects are to be escaped somehow? Who knows? More radically, perhaps they cannot persist in games and sport even, if the logic of domination is the prob­lem to be solved. ­There are a number of literary works that articulate characters and communities who work from their self-­defined identities and modes of life against seemingly insurmountable, even inevitable globalizing forces. Their critiques of industry and their protective addresses of the laboring bodies subjected to industrial forces often focus on local, daily modes of subsistence that become the tools of re­sis­tance. Such daily forms of re­sis­tance are addressed in this volume, for example, by ­Will Elliot and Kevin Maier in chapter 10 and by Jo Anne Rey in chapter 11. They are generally in concert with theorists working on cultural analy­sis across the channels of daily life and its economies, in that they each respond to industry, they each resist and submit to domination. In par­tic­ul­ ar, I am interested in reflexive literary forms, such as irony from the Romantics through Calvino, the multivocative indigenous critical lit­er­a­tures of Patricia Grace, the modernist restrictiveness of Kafka. All of ­these doubt the efficacy of expression—of the conceptual itself—­against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune while staking total claim to nothing e­ lse being remotely equipped for such tasks at the same time. The predicament of ­human life in WALL-­E, for example, is that t­here is nothing to it beyond automation serving the select remainder of a demolished Earth and humanity. A sentient robot that wishes for more life (see Figure 2.2) is the savior, which Grace’s novel Potiki would not allow—­ the ­humans who employ machinery therein are as the plug pullers in nineteenth-­ century ­labor riots Malm discusses as an inspiration for con­temporary refusal of industrial cap­i­tal­ist modes. In the end, asks Grace, what can stop the spreading accumulation? How is one body enough? How many bodies are enough, even as one? For both versions of recognition and uprising, the individual act is shown to be ­either fanciful sentiment (WALL-­E) or structurally inconsequential (Grace). The pivotal “­labor” of Grace’s work comes u­ nder cover of night, when unknown hands undo construction proj­ects like dams upon local waterways in their Maori community location using the very machinery and diggers they w ­ ere experts on as laborers on the new development proj­ects in the area. More recently, Boots Riley’s film Sorry to Bother You takes up this notion of weaponized, ironic expertise as part of a social justice effort.25 He poses the Black athlete—­football players, specifically—in formation against the police force that


Ted Geier

figure 2.2. WALL-­E enjoys a break from his l­ abor in the film WALL-­E (Pixar 2008).

guarantees private property in the Bay Area tech-­mindfulness zone of domination. They are joined by an even more literal meta­phor of the exploited black body, the “equisapiens” (horse-­human hybrids, literally, in the film’s sci-fi imaginary) that are starting the revolution against capital in the film’s closing. The final ­horse man roar ­after breaking into the bad cap­it­ al­ist’s swanky digs evokes Sergei Eisenstein’s lion montage in The Battleship Potemkin, a famous sequence in which three dif­fer­ ent lion statue shots are linked in immediate succession—­sleeping, waking, and then rising—to suggest the rising of the ­people against the czar. Perhaps it may as well be called the Pay Area, in Sorry to Bother You, and Riley’s villain “Steve Lift” stands in for Apple’s Steve Jobs and the Über/Lyft nexus now responsible for a massive increase in traffic in a San Francisco area that has already initiated one of the most disparate splits between rich and poor in the entire nation, evicting masses and essentially disposing of thousands of homeless via aggressive cleanup evictions. Connecting threads of l­abor, expertise, and power in Grace’s novel or Riley’s film demand nothing short of control of the means of production—­the equipment and technology of moving soil, literally, in the novel’s climax, of gaining yardage in the film’s. The novel’s protagonist community works in ways that do not produce profit for the business interests in the book, and eventually they all turn against, and work over, the employers who may have burned down the sacred gathering ­house and killed a special young character in their pursuit of land for development. This climax came about b­ ecause the community would not sell out, even when capital accumulation murders freely as a weapon of dominance. Several issues in anthropocenic critique parallel forms of industry, suffering, and re­sis­tance. I also want to briefly focus on aspects of biopo­liti­cal critique that articulate the lives risked by the Anthropocene. Once again, the Anthropocene undoes—­works through—­a world articulated as a technical t­ hing. This is a contradictory claim b­ ecause it supposes that the term “Anthropocene” properly mea­ sures, evaluates, and mobilizes a world picture, a fact of life (and death). Then, it could work through in terms of functioning—it “works”—or the “work through” that is more like a working over. This is the undoing I have in mind, and I attempt

Anthropocene Performance 63

­here to suggest that it is impor­tant that the term both work and not work to conceptualize this shared global condition as a vast geological age. To this we might add that “The Anthropocene” (a looming concept we put in scare quotes for the purpose at hand) works as a stable analy­sis of an unstable, deteriorating condition ­unless we refuse the categorization of world object, calculable production. That is to say, if we refuse the calculable object, the ossified concept that can be mobilized and thereby equated, quite literally, to a cheeseburger commercial in terms of its social impact, then we in fact approach something far more accurate and alarming about such a condition: its unspeakability. This is the predicament of critique in the Anthropocene, where mobilizing action requires efficient logics and, indeed, slogans in the pragmatic compromise of what we currently count as actionable. So “The Anthropocene” works very well, the way an Al Gore Power­Point travels well in broad circles, yet carries with it the same ongoing trou­ble of conceptual precision and purity: it is easily missed, ignored, rejected. It is agreed-­upon, and it is an articulation suggesting that environmentalism of the “direct action” local variety has already been undone. Recycling your ­bottles and cans ­will not reduce the already epic waste in the oceans and certainly has no bearing on the nuclear half-­ lives endlessly proliferating around the world. Shortening your shower does not curb the ­water wasted on meat animal production. I am reminded of cheeseburger flavor science: the McDonald’s Big Mac is a taste experience—­though not a mouth-­feel match—­that can be put on a piece of white bread, basically. Food science has this funny way of efficiently condensing the idea of a natu­ral, ­whole experience to a signature, immanently replicable “flavor.” This is a bit like the Anthropocene. If it is properly understood and affirmed, the flavor of ecological existence is impossible, undead, condemned, and yet also sustained in some strange way. It is the end of the world and yet we are still ­here. Ecological degradation both defines every­thing and exceeds every­thing, refiguring an individual ­human as the same epic remainder of Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”26 In the poem, a “shattered visage” of a once ­great monument to a once ­great man, millennia ago, is now broken and fallen upon a vast desert as the level sands stretch far away. Identifying the perfect concept and trademarking the perfect term—­intense ­labor in itself, and the stuff of the paramount h­ uman industry, combining all disciplines and e­ very historical insight—­this identification then has its “shelf life” and is equally contested in the marketplace of “working” models. Like a proper sonnet, which “Ozymandias” technically is and technically is not given its revised fourteen-­ line iambic-­sometimes, patterned-­rhyme-­sometimes mechanics, the Anthropocene attests to the potency of h­ uman techniques and tools without actually escaping the simultaneous self-­destruction of the h­ uman. On the bright side, the poem’s final gesture is to the endless sands washing over broken h­ uman enterprise. Then again, the poem still stands the test of time. As the worst t­ hing ever, the Anthropocene is simply the latest worst t­hing. But uniquely, and ironically in the same disastrous way that most good irony makes its point that no point is safe, for ecocritique and certainly in Romantic poetry, this one is named a­ fter the villain of the story.27


Ted Geier

­There is not enough work to be done to save the world that has achieved total anthropogenesis, fi­nally, in the very image of man, right at the threshold of its ruin. Marking the undone world as such means that ­there is not enough work to be done to save the world that is to be worked on, identified, lost, or mourned. Th ­ ere is, officially, but one pos­si­ble “new” or “radical” change that would start the a­ ctual resolution (you read that right) and fit the ceaseless demands of “we need a radically other/new way” witnessed in so much ecocriticism and social critique in recent de­cades: the end of capitalism. Unfortunately, it is such an old and clunky demand for the a­ ctual revolution (you read it right again) that it has been all but eliminated as an a­ ctual possibility u­ nder global market logics. If this w ­ ere a m ­ atter of practical survival, it would be natu­ral to mobilize basic scientific understandings of environmental damage to intentionally stop work patterns, food production, and other modes that rely upon extraction and emission. But such naturalized good work (anti-­work, perhaps) has been no match at all for the greater naturalization of capital. Even in times of darkest crisis, the world is governed by the efficient, “practical,” thought-­leadery world of “It is what it is” and “It’s a business” neoliberal “business ontologies,” according to Mark Fisher, and the governing rationality of economized ways of life.28 Think of the “return on investment” t­oday’s student wants instead of good training in being a good demo­cratic citizen, which education used to provide according to Wendy Brown’s analy­sis of neoliberal ideologies, for example.29 Life’s particularity defines precarity against industrial globality and technical universality. But this articulation is simply a diagnosis. It is like an inoperable condition, in many regards. It is simply to be lived with and endured, ­until it achieves its end. The privation, in this case, is the ossification of animal, vegetable, microbial, any life at all, as a fungible object of productive-­consumer economies in which corn can stand in as the agricultural extension of carbon and the basis of all life forms. Foundational biopo­liti­cal theory, such as Giorgio Agamben’s discussion of the zoe/bios difference and the bare life that has become the basis of con­temporary society, also suggests that, as in the case of meat animals, life forms have been manufactured and disciplined to produce controlled commodities.30 ­There is a curious sense in which this ethical apparatus requires the very sorts of objectification it is meant to combat—­the controlled commodity r­ eally exists and now we must save it. Adorno’s difficult point about concepts like humanity and pro­gress critiques that objective logic in order to employ it in the most liberating end to suffering pos­si­ble, for the most lives. As Adorno notes in vari­ous ways across his critical works, to suggest that an expressive mode could distill and portably reproduce the “theme” or “content” of an arrested life form is to wholly abject the very lives in question from the po­liti­cal community that such concepts of valuable, individuated life supposedly produce.31 The biopo­liti­cal turn argues that this is exactly the exception and abjection modern society and po­liti­cal structures count on to produce the ­human lives governed u­ nder the sign of po­liti­cal community. Commitment in expressive works risks reiterating the damaged, bare life as an object, in

Anthropocene Performance 65

itself, to be marked, mourned, and saved. What is left, other than an “abolition” or extermination of that form of life in order to correct the administrative vio­lence of the forms of abjection/exception meat production holds in full force as its rule? The intersections of bodies and pro­cesses can hardly be summarized ­under the anthropocentrist structures of capital, and in fact a ­great deal of cultural expression has sought to uncover something quite other than just the economic form of life. Kafka’s The Trial is obsessed with an abjective reduction of life to an alienated ­legal “subject” perfectly unfettered by any coherent economic machinery. Any other, with or without authority or expertise, can undo the authoritative, autonomous subject. The bureaucratic form controls socie­ties and ensures t­here is no “one” to address with one’s complaints. Fisher gives the call center as a particularly alarming example of this quotidian de­mo­li­tion of self-­certainty. “Not getting anywhere” with the unfortunate other on the other end of the call reiterates the bare fact of administrative life. Other expressive works confront the persisting potential of nonhumans, perhaps as challenging nonhuman objects such as deities and forces. Such works thus trou­ble a ­simple commitment or ethical response to a confirmed condition of life u­ nder capital, biopower, objectification, or any other relational framework. This negotiation of anthropocentrism at the borderland of expressive potential extends also to organ­izing logics. The Anthropocene is such an organ­izing logic, in that it holds up yet another mirror to the improvable h­ uman subject by confirming that all the h­ uman has done—­worked on—­has turned out very badly indeed, in general. Bad ­human! And so: good nonhuman! But it does not let go of a central, inviolable trust in ­human calculation and managerial expertise. Similarly, the diminution of fact in the con­temporary anthrocity is less an epistemological crisis, more a rhetorical fad. It coasts upon the constantly functioning and improving culture industry that approves the practically pos­si­ble while sensationalizing threats to order such as protest, action, or other forms of critique. This static cultural ecol­ogy is, clearly, one of constant motion and branding. L ­ abor presumes someone is doing/has done something. But the Anthropocene forms time as a ­human composition of geologic scale, a supposedly “mere” mea­sure­ ment and a mechanism of data control, sedimenting the work of humanity as the world itself. Yet ­there is no work to be done, certainly not as individual consumers and workers. The Anthropocene per­for­mance, like generalized neoliberal business ontologies, amounts to an endless diagnostic, testimonial, and “now we must” work assured of immediate obsolescence. In a frustrating state of affairs, it holds no answer to the question of what is to be done, and perhaps ­ought not, ­because it is already done. In short, the busy body’s prepackaged freak-­out reaction to crisis, which becomes the productive obsessive’s compulsive proj­ect management and solutioneering (to borrow the Disney Imagineering mantel), produces only more coercion, self-­monitoring, and guilt about needing to do yet more work. We are right back where we started, looking busy and performing concern and action to protect the world we have been so enjoying to date. Whoever this governing “we” is, clearly is the prob­lem. Whoever the neurotic “we” workers are cannot be


Ted Geier

the prob­lem or the solution, as it turns out—we are just a well-­programmed, docile ­labor force. And always already, the one new and dif­fer­ent t­ hing we might try on as a structural, true “we” work has been ruled out and is ably deflected by all the brilliantly calculated defenses of the “we” that actually count in the world that inflicted, named, and forever enforces this endless catastrophe.

Notes 1. ​ WALL-­E, directed by Andrew Stanton (Disney/Pixar, 2008), DVD. 2. ​Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (London: Verso, 2007). 3. ​Davis, 178–195. 4. ​ Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2012), DVD. 5. ​The “magical negro” trope has been commented on extensively, perhaps most famously by

Spike Lee with regard to films such as The Legend of Bagger Vance. See also Robin R. Means Coleman, Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Pre­sent (New York: Routledge, 2011), esp. chapter 6, “We Always Die First.” 6. ​Julia Dawn Parker and Maureen H. McDonough, “Environmentalism of African Americans: An Analy­sis of the Subculture and Barriers Theories,” Environment and Be­hav­ior 31, no. 2 (1999): 155–157. 7. ​See, for example, Julie Sze, Noxious New York (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006) and Rob Nixon, Slow Vio­lence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013). 8. ​Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (New York: Picador Press, 2007). 9. ​On “economization,” see Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (New York: Zone Books, 2015). 10. ​Moishe Postone, Time, ­Labor, and Social Domination (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 311. 11. ​Postone, 311. 12. ​Postone, 312. 13. ​See Timothy Morton, Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman ­People (London: Verso, 2017). 14. ​Andreas Malm, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming (London: Verso, 2016), 283; see esp. chapter 13. 15. ​Malm, 389–390. 16. ​Malm, 392. 17. ​Malm, 394–395. 18. ​Theodor Adorno, “Pro­gress,” trans. Eric Krakauer, in Benjamin: Philosophy, History, Aesthetics, ed. Gary Smith (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 84. 19. ​See also Ursula Heise, Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). 20. ​Adorno, “Pro­gress,” 85. 21. ​Adorno, 85. 22. ​Adorno, 85. 23. ​See Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz, trans. Daniel Heller-­Roazen (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Zone Books, 2000). 24. ​Samuel Beckett, Endgame and Act without Words I (New York: Grove Press, 2009). See also Theodor Adorno, “Trying to Understand Endgame,” in Notes to Lit­er­a­ture, Vol. 2, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992). 25. ​ Sorry to Bother You, directed by Boots Riley (Significant Productions; MNM Creative; MACRO; Cinereach; The Space Program, 2018), DVD.

Anthropocene Performance 67

26. ​Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecol­ogy ­after the End of the World (Minne-

apolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).

27. ​See especially Timothy Morton, Ecol­ogy without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthet-

ics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

28. ​Mark Fisher, Cap­it­al­ist Realism: Is ­There No Alternative? (Winchester, UK: John Hunt,

2009). See also Brown, Undoing the Demos. 29. ​Brown, Undoing the Demos, 175–200. 30. ​See Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-­ Roazen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998) and Agamben, The Open: Between Man and Animal, trans. Kevin Attell (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003). 31. ​See especially Theodor Adorno, “Commitment,” in Notes to Lit­er­a­ture, Vol. 2 and “The Essay as Form,” Notes to Lit­er­a­ture, Vol. 1, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991). See also Adorno, Minima Moralia, trans. Edmund Jephcott (New York: Verso, 2006).

Section Two


3 ▶ UNFREE ­L ABOR Slavery and the Anthropocene in the Amer­i­cas RYA N H E D I G E R


n the epilogue to The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in Amer­i­ca, Andrés Reséndez discusses the fact that slavery and forced ­labor have not ended in con­temporary times, and they persist in a range of activities involving Asian sweatshops, American farming, Eastern Eu­ro­pean sex work, and much more.1 Our histories tend to emphasize pro­gress in the movement of time, and the pre­sent is typically contrasted with a less enlightened past. But such logics of pro­gress have come ­under fulsome critique in a range of ways in postcolonialism, feminism, the environmental movement, and most notably recently in the resurgent and expansive Black Lives M ­ atter movement, which has reached even into small-­town Amer­i­ca and has also become global.2 This movement underscores that the racism and racist structures often constructed as past are in fact pre­sent, much too pre­sent. Likewise, analysts of the Anthropocene often construct a progressive logic in which past actors had ­little idea how their actions influenced the environment. Only t­ oday, ­these accounts suggest, do we know what the consequences are. While I find a grain of truth in such analy­sis, since our knowledge of the environmental consequences is more robust than ever, in The Shock of the Anthropocene, Chrisotophe Bonneuil and Jean-­Baptiste Fressoz offer a striking critique of the core premise 71


Rya n Hediger

that p­ eople in the past did not recognize the harms done to the environment.3 With recourse to a careful reading of history, ­these authors show that awareness of harms to the environment and thereby to p­ eople and other inhabitants of the land have long been part of the strug­gles that constitute history. Such realities, exemplified by his own case in Against the Grain that reaches much further back, to the dawn of agriculture in the M ­ iddle East, lead James C. Scott to attest to the radical potentials in history. Scott notes that “deep history” exposes “the many contingencies that came together to shape, say, the Industrial Revolution, the Last Glacial Maximum, or the Qin Dynasty,” opening a view of radically alternative potentials.4 Rethinking the past means rethinking the ­future. Reséndez’s account of Indian slavery performs a similar revisionist task, detailing the extent and per­sis­tence of a real­ity that is often ignored in the historical rec­ ord, even by allies. He overturns the widespread belief that the only real victims of slavery ­were African.5 He of course mourns the horrors of the African slave trade, which involved some twelve million Africans: “This ­human loss was tremendous.”6 But he notes that recent studies suggest, “If we ­were to add up all the Indian slaves taken in the New World from the time of Columbus to the end of the nineteenth ­century, the figure would run somewhere between 2.5 and 5 million slaves.”7 This huge number approaches the scale of African slavery. Worse, the impact of Eu­ro­ pean incursion into the Amer­ic­ as, including losses by disease, war, slavery, and more, was “an even more catastrophic decline in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries” of Indian populations than that experienced in West Africa.8 The point is that the impact of slavery and colonial imperialism is wider and deeper still than is customarily recognized, as much of the scholarship cited in this chapter shows. The prob­lem is not merely historical. Th ­ ese impacts continue to echo through our lives in the pre­sent moment in a range of ways, in large part ­because our histories can be too quick to distinguish the evil past from the virtuous pre­sent. Simplifying the real­ity of slavery into a neatly contained and distantly past episode affecting only a single group—­however tragically—is an example, and it is a disser­vice to African descendants as well as to the many other victims of slavery and its likenesses. In effect, the importance of slavery to larger histories is contained inside the softening device of progressivist improvement narratives that often forestall real interrogation of prob­lems in con­temporary life. Reséndez offers another example in analyses of “the new slavery” that date its beginning to the end of World War II or to the rise of neoliberalism. Calling such a view “myopic,” he writes, “I have tried to show that the mechanisms of coercion that underpin such practices are much older than many analysts realize.”9 Resendez’s history reaches back to Christopher Columbus’s first arrival in the Amer­i­cas and comes all the way forward to the pre­sent, demonstrating, among many other t­ hings, “the staying power and extraordinary adaptability of slavery itself.”10 Each attempt to end slavery, by the Spanish Crown in the sixteenth ­century, by the new Mexican government in the early nineteenth c­ entury, by the U.S. government ­later in the nineteenth c­ entury, was met by subterfuge and sophisticated

Unfree Labor 73

workarounds that permitted slavery to continue in varied forms all the way to the pre­sent. We see one such workaround in the system of mass incarceration condemned by Michelle Alexander, which she positions as a perpetuation of the larger history of race-­based social control reaching back through slavery and beyond.11 Like Reséndez’s history and like that of Bonneuil and Fressoz, this chapter exposes the extent to which slavery and forced l­abor have been fundamental to the time period often called the Anthropocene, however controversially (as discussed in the introduction to this volume). Indeed, I reinforce the notion that slavery is an effective shorthand for naming the ontological and practical changes wrought to ­human and nonhuman life and to environments during the Anthropocene. In other words, this chapter demonstrates the ways that the period often called the Anthropocene is also, in many ways, a slaveryocene.12 I show the striking continuities between the development of modernity and the importance of slavery and its near kin, forced l­abor, indentured servitude, and so on. While at first this claim may seem radical, it might also seem obvious. That is a strange paradox, one that courses along so many analyses of the horrors of modernity, as when Douglas A. Blackmon discusses the response he received on National Public Radio to his shocking book Slavery by Another Name. ­After hearing about the book’s account of a ­labor system that essential re-­created slavery in the American South up to World War II, the National Public Radio host Bob Edwards said, “I guess it’s r­eally no surprise.”13 We think we know the horrors of racism. Or consider Ira Berlin’s opening to his book Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North Amer­i­ca, where he points out that “slavery was both a model and a meta­phor for the most extreme forms of exploitation, otherness, and even social death.”14 Slavery, as a template and a shorthand, remains a power­ful idea. But it is also treated—­rightly, of course—as a historical horror, a kind of anomaly that we have moved beyond in the progressive actions of social justice and historical improvement. Slavery is over; slavery is not over. Slavery is too horrible for comparison; we use slavery for comparison constantly. Something is amiss ­here in ­these disjunctions. What? In part, I suggest, it is a failure of historical perspective that tends not to recognize how impor­tant slavery was to most realities we accept as normal ­today. That is one way to summarize much of the more recent work on slavery from figures like Edward E. Baptist, Sven Beckert, Michelle Alexander, and Douglas A. Blackmon considered throughout this chapter. Their work sets a path for one of the central claims here: that the logic of slavery and an endless dialogue between freedom and shackles set far more of the terms of the Enlightenment and capitalism than is widely recognized. In short, we continue to work on a model of ­labor that borrows much from the tradition of slavery, and we live in a world deeply reliant on the logic and outcomes of extraction that animate(d) slavery. To propose alternatives to the Anthropocene, then, requires developing alternatives to this logic of objectification, ­labor, and slavery. While this chapter is historical, its history is mostly thematic and episodic, aiming to underscore major strains in this huge and crucial nexus of issues. The


Rya n Hediger

argument works in two layers, focused largely on the Amer­ic­ as and moving across large expanses of time: first, I bring some of the vari­ous strands of the history of ­labor, forced ­labor, and especially slavery together and put them into dialogue with discussions of the Anthropocene, an effort that of course deserves a longer and more elaborate treatment than I can offer h­ ere. Second, I show how the distinction between slavery and ­free l­ abor that structures much of this history is itself insufficient ­because it takes for granted regimes and norms of ­labor—it naturalizes forms of work that are themselves also historical, not universal, and therefore, we assert in this volume, subject to debate and revision.

“­Free” ­L abor This second point is the more controversial one, so it is impor­tant to establish its outline at the beginning. One way to do so is to consider an impor­tant, ripe moment in U.S. history, the Civil War and the Reconstruction period that followed it. Reséndez notes in his history that much of the intellectual and po­liti­cal impetus ­behind the Thirteenth Amendment that officially ended U.S. slavery derived from “the ­free ­labor ideology that developed in the 1850s and emerged triumphant at the end of the Civil War.”15 Ele­ments of this princi­ple, though Reséndez does not say so, reach back at least to Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of the yeoman farmer, a small farmer whose economic in­de­pen­dence would facilitate his (“his” in this history) po­liti­cal in­de­pen­dence.16 It is a fundamental part of the United States’ notion of democracy, but in fact it was never more than ideal or fantasy. Indeed, a founding contradiction of the American system is too often glossed over by the term, whereby the growth of so-­called f­ ree l­abor replaces slavery as the primary tool of cap­i­tal­ist growth. Such historiography contradicts the more complex realities on the ground across time, as noted by Berlin.17 Furthermore, “­free l­abor” is something of an oxymoron when viewed on its own terms; it borrows most of its coherence from its contrast with slavery, which is meaningful but also misleading. The contrast with the ugly history of slavery makes it seem as though the current social contract is acceptable, when in fact, as noted by analysts like Wendy Brown and Achille Mbembe and ­others, ­labor involves the surrender of freedoms, at least temporarily.18 ­Labor is not especially f­ ree, and it tends to contradict the values enumerated in prized documents like the Declaration of the Rights of Man developed during the French Revolution, the U.S. Declaration of In­de­pen­dence, and the U.S. Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights. Freedoms expressly granted by the Bill of Rights are specifically denied in the workplace, underscoring the neat contradiction that animates so much American history. This contradiction appears perhaps most clearly and egregiously in the revolutionary period, as this colony of ­Great Britain in North Amer­i­ca sought to take its own place in the world of nations, relying on high-­minded arguments about liberty even as white supremacy would be enshrined in the Constitution in vari­ous ways and w ­ omen would be systematically denied the rights of citizenship. Th ­ ese specific arguments are familiar and need not be

Unfree Labor 75

rehearsed ­here except to underscore the way the social contract remains, to this very day, built on ­these contradictions. Never has that been clearer in recent history than in the agitation to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting the economy over ­human health and even ­human life. The sacrificial logic of growth, in which ­people, ecosystems, animals, and more must become objects to extract value from, is at the heart of this form of thinking, a real­ity confronted forcefully in Ted Geier’s essay in this volume (chapter 2). Meanwhile, the Black Lives ­Matter movement continues to expose how this heritage harms Black ­people. We can position the pre­sent moment in the long history of using race to divide the working class, in which common economic cause across ethnic difference is split apart by the wedge of white supremacy, a history stretching from Bacon’s Rebellion in 1675 ­Virginia through the populist movement of the 1890s, to the New Deal co­ali­tion upended by the notorious Southern Strategy of Nixon’s Republican Party, to Trump.19 The COVID-19 pandemic is also especially striking as a revelation of how citizens have internalized ­these norms, as one does of course. Thus, protestors equate freedom with the opportunity to work, precisely connecting two domains that are in other ways opposed. Some of this is practical; ­people recognize that to maintain a place—­specifically, a home, as well as a social role and so on—in modern Amer­ i­ca, one must work. Work remains the obligation, and infamously in the United States, ­there is l­ittle safety net for t­ hose unable to work due to their own circumstances or due to social realities well outside of individual control, such as recessions and systematic racism. Does this “workism” ­really represent cultural success?20 Indeed, over the longer term, even as slavery has been steadily outlawed and workers have been protected by vari­ous l­egal regimes, contrary trends also exist. Slavery has not ended. And, to echo this volume’s introduction, ­there is the decline of trade u­ nions, the rise of gig work, the advent of “bullshit jobs,” and so much more.21 What have remained largely naturalized are the very idea and practices of l­ abor norms that guide our days and our years. Yet not every­one is subject to ­these norms equally. Among the excluded are not just ­those who subsist on rents, but ­those in many kinds of superior positions. In short, our insistence on condemning slavery should not blind us to the ways in which core ele­ments of slavery persist inside ostensibly “­free” l­abor practices ­today. The range of ways in which this is true is demonstrated in the 2016 collection Slavery’s Capitalism, in which a host of scholars demonstrate how vari­ous workplace practices w ­ ere gestated in the system of slave l­abor.22 For instance, the efficiencies wrung out of enslaved p­ eople in the late eigh­teenth and early nineteenth centuries via “punishment, increased surveillance, decreased breaks, and lockstep ­labor” in cotton production w ­ ere key in what amounted to a reshaping of  “the economy of the Atlantic and then of the globe.”23 Edward  E. Baptist, whose essay I just quoted, has done much to show that slavery—­and especially vio­lence—­was fundamental to the rise of modern capitalism. But many seemingly minor changes are rooted in slavery too. Caitlin Rosenthal describes the way slavers kept detailed rec­ords of how much cotton, “sugar, rice, wheat, and other staples”


Rya n Hediger

­ ere picked by each enslaved person daily and then annually, facilitating focused w use of vio­lence to speed production.24 She calls slavery “a laboratory for the use of accounting.”25 Daniel B. Rood retells the story of the McCormick reaper, made famous for its use in the so-­called settling of the West, as part of “­free” ­labor. Yet Rood shows “this quintessentially American machine” to be “a Creole artifact, a tropical technology, and, more than anything, a product of Atlantic slavery.”26 Thus, the claiming of the contested West was facilitated by a slavery-­made device. Bonnie Martin adds to the work of Baptist in his book The Half Has Never Been Told, where he demonstrates, among other t­ hings, the importance of enslaved persons as collateral for international finance.27 In his article, Baptist underscores that “enslaved ­people . . . ​ constituted in their bodies almost one-­fifth of all national accounting wealth, a far higher proportion of its liquid wealth,” realities essential to their importance as collateral.28 Martin’s case highlights the personal dimensions of a similar but smaller-­ scale system of collateral, as neighbor lent to neighbor.29 The wealth built via such innovations and practices fed each stage of economic development and continue to drive con­temporary life and commercial practices. Thus, such “­free” l­abor systems rely in their history on slave ­labor regimes. In light of this heritage and ­these answers to it, Reséndez’s discussion of f­ree ­labor is striking. He recognizes that ­there was no single vision of what ­free ­labor entailed in the mid-­nineteenth-­century United States, but advocates tended to insist “that ­every man should be ‘entitled to the fruits of his ­labor.’ They repeated this phrase over and over like a man­tra, beginning with President Abraham Lincoln, who had become the greatest ideologue and most con­spic­uo­ us advocate of ­free ­labor.”30 As Reséndez notes, this vision of economic and po­liti­cal in­de­pen­ dence resonated for Lincoln with his own experience as a young person working “on small farms in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.”31 It can be only too easy to celebrate uncritically this vision of hard work in a seemingly unformed place. We live in a world that valorizes “­free l­ abor” as a cultural and moral backbone. But let us pause ­here to note the obvious but insufficiently appreciated point: Lincoln’s youthful experiences w ­ ere on the frontier, part of the pro­cess of radically changing the inhabitancy, ecol­ogy, and politics of North Amer­i­ca. That pro­cess depended fundamentally on the notion of Manifest Destiny and on the racist rejections of Indigenous inhabitants, the many Indian p­ eoples. F ­ ree l­abor in its ­actual historical real­ity and specificity is, in short, part of a settler colonialist ideology, and the notion, captured by Reséndez, that it was repeated “like a man­tra” by abolitionists gives us just the right way to grasp its quasi-­religious character.32 The notion of ­free l­abor, though preferable in very clear ways to chattel slavery, is still part of colonial imperialism, excusing a regime of governance built precisely on rejecting other ways of being, other—­for lack of a better term—­economic regimes, such as the mixed and flexible practices of the Diné (the Navajo) in the Southwest, who in Lincoln’s era raised sheep; tended agricultural fields, fruit trees, and gardens; and hunted and gathered too.33

Unfree Labor 77

When we think of history this way, the fact that American jurisprudence refused to convincingly condemn Indian slavery, as Reséndez shows, takes additional resonance.34 As Reséndez reports, for instance, when faced with the possibility of entrusting Indians with rights of American citizenship such as voting, the Supreme Court refused, on racist grounds. The case was Elk v. Wilkins (1884), and the majority opinion argued that the question of w ­ hether Indians had “become so far advanced in civilization” that they could be permitted “the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship” should be answered by the nation at large, not by the court.35 In other words, this remained an unsettled question that the Supreme Court refused to adjudicate. We might say the w ­ hole national proj­ect of the United States—­the par­tic­u­lar shape that it actually took—­could be cast into doubt by recognizing the humanity of Indian ­peoples across cultural and po­liti­cal difference. Instead of finding such common cause, exaggerated difference continued to operate as an engine of ongoing conquest at the heart of U.S. history, and before that, colonial history. Perhaps even more surprisingly to con­temporary forms of meaning in culture, this mantra-­like insistence on the value of ostensibly ­free ­labor frames a dispute in clear terms: between slave and f­ree, in a distinction that runs throughout the Enlightenment.36 That framing obscures more fundamental tensions mentioned above, tensions that we bring to the fore in this volume, ­those between l­abor and, well, something ­else. ­Today, that something e­ lse is often “leisure,” but seeing leisure as the opposite of ­labor is itself a consequence of the triumph of ­labor ideology,37 so we need to put that opposition into question as well. What is the opposite of ­labor? Perhaps life? Perhaps, though such a view introduces a serious shock to regimes of life and l­abor that remain dominant t­ oday and that naturalize and universalize l­ abor as fundamental to life, not opposed to it. ­These points take on additional resonance in the context of Reséndez’s study when we recognize how often Indian slavery, Indian wars, and Indian genocide ­were all justified with recourse to a logic of l­ abor and its importance. Indians could be and indeed must be displaced ­because they did not work properly, the story went, and Indians therefore wasted the providence of the land.38 This norm could be exercised indirectly. Thus, for instance, in gold rush age California, we see the proclamation of Captain John B. Montgomery proscribing Indian slavery. But, per Reséndez, the proclamation at the same time forbade Indians to “wander about in an idle and dissolute manner.”39 Indians who ­were found ­doing so “­were required to obtain employment.”40 Slavery is not acceptable, but ­labor in Euro-­American terms is mandatory. Indians who resisted such regimes w ­ ere to be understood as thieves and punished accordingly.41 Such racist views ­were widespread, and the racism is activated more specifically with norms of ­labor. Reséndez’s discussion of Brigham Young and the Mormon settlement of Utah, for example, hinges on the dismissal of Indian modes of life, seeing them as both dangerous and lazy,42 an assessment that fueled the ambivalent Mormon policies, which at first resisted enslaving Indians before coming to justify the practice on the grounds that such enslavement would improve and Christianize them as part of God’s plan.43


Rya n Hediger

Montgomery’s proscription of slavery can be aligned with more traditional accounts of slavery. As Sidney Mintz points out in his classic book on sugar, Sweetness and Power, conventionally, capitalism has been defined by its use of “­free ­labor,” meaning that “even Marx himself seems uncertain how to treat” slave ­labor.44 But t­ here are certainly clear moments, as when, in Capital, Marx underscores “the transformation of the ­earlier, more or less patriarchal slavery into a system of commercial exploitation. In fact, the veiled slavery of the wage-­labourers in Eu­rope needed the unqualified slavery of the New World as its pedestal.”45 Marx preserves but softens the distinction between slave and proletarian l­abor, recognizing their commonalities and their crucial sequencing. Mintz follows suit, underscoring “­free” ­labor’s separation of workers from means of production, its comparative disempowerment, its importance to w ­ hole economic and po­liti­cal systems, such that slavery and ­free ­labor “­were overlapping, even interdependent.”46 If we begin with ­those commonalities in view, a move facilitated especially by an Anthropocene framing in which much wider swaths of time come ­under survey, then we can recognize a clear notion of work and work ethic at the very heart of the entire system of modernity, a work ethic that facilitates every­ thing we associate with the half millennium, a vio­lence to ­human selfhood of varying degrees that has led, perhaps more fundamentally even than technological changes or the like, to the condition called the Anthropocene. In other words, historiography and related disciplines have very dif­fer­ent tasks in the Anthropocene than they did in other contexts. The finely graded distinctions between and among periods of “development” in economic systems have their uses, surely, but seeing them together as a singular system also seems crucial during the Anthropocene. Jason W. Moore’s argument for world-­systems approaches to such questions, for instance, in his Capitalism in the Web of Life, rests on this premise, that seeing in a wider frame, at a wider scale, is especially impor­tant in the Anthropocene, and this is a point made by many other scholars.47 Of course, such wider framing inevitably risks blurring more finely grained nuances specific to par­tic­u­lar periods. The pre­sent chapter also runs that risk, ­under the premise that both wide and narrow temporal focuses have their uses and can operate in complementary fashion. We need both/all. Mintz long ago modeled how such an analy­sis might look. He produces a sustained and nuanced inquiry into the differences and similarities between the sugar plantation system and what is conventionally called capitalism; he is well aware of the conventional differences.48 He then underscores a few takeaways, including: first, we should not insist too strongly on an absolute distinction between t­ hese modes of production; second, the plantation system “nourished certain cap­it­ al­ist classes at home as they ­were becoming more capitalistic.”49 ­Those are his italics, and his point ­here is impor­tant: a kind of primitive accumulation can be seen in the profits from the plantation system, money that did not “stop ‘working’ once it was made.”50 But the pro­cess was not inevitable. Sugar consumption, far from being a universal or natu­ral feature of ­human life, derived instead from the very specific history

Unfree Labor 79

of colonialism. It was among “the direct consequences of the same momentum that created a world economy, shaping the asymmetrical relationships between the metropolitan centers and their colonies and satellites, and the tremendous productive and distributive apparatuses, both technical and ­human, of modern capitalism.”51 That history and the wealth of the cap­i­tal­ist classes was “created by the ­labor of millions of slaves stolen from Africa, on millions of acres of the New World stolen from the Indians.”52 Still, Mintz’s analy­sis is slightly symptomatic of the naturalization of ­labor norms that reaches throughout the Anthropocene, back to agriculture’s dawn in some sense, as indicated by Scott in Against the Grain.53 Mintz is especially sensitive to the challenges faced by laborers, and he goes quite far to expose the ­labor system as historically produced, but it is less his purpose to show how power­ful ­those norms themselves are in a fundamental way. When ­those norms take center stage, new questions and prob­lems arise, as I am insisting in this chapter and as we are insisting more generally in this essay collection. Indeed, it is fairly shocking to consider how dif­fer­ent ordinary experience might become as we better recognize ­labor norms as historical rather than inevitable.

The Logic of Extraction In the Indian gold mines and on the sugar plantations, slaves ­were forced to participate in the cultural logic of extraction, whereby life and land ­were objectified and value was extracted from them, a general regime that persists—if against some resistance—to this day. Columbus’s first voyages to what are now called the Amer­i­cas ­were always conceived of not as neutral geo­graph­ic­ al explorations, but rather as enterprises of extraction, very much along the lines traced by Kathryn Yusoff in her exposé of geology as an already-­racial undertaking of extraction, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None.54 In the case of Columbus, as explored compellingly by Reséndez, the voyages ­were clearly i­ magined as m ­ atters of commerce, and at the center of that was slavery.55 One statement of Columbus, recorded by Bartolomé de Las Casas and quoted by Reséndez, is particularly revealing: “The Indians of Española w ­ ere and are the greatest wealth of the island, ­because they are the ones who dig, and harvest, and collect the bread and other supplies, and gather the gold from the mines, and do all the work of men and beasts alike.”56 Columbus ­here names the general pattern that dominates at least ­until the vari­ ous emancipations of the nineteenth ­century began to turn the tide against legalized slavery. It is a model of double extraction, with enslaved ­people being the first commodity that facilitated all the other commodifications and extractions. We can thus hear Columbus echoing in the ­later real­ity that enslaved ­people ­were the lynchpin of early American capitalism in several senses, performing most of the work, especially the ugliest and hardest work, facilitating much of the credit system that helped the culture run, and more—in short, organ­izing the w ­ hole society in the South.57 We can call this original move dehumanizing, and it is, something that worried even Columbus’s contemporaries in vari­ous ways.58 But we need a less


Rya n Hediger

speciesist rejection in order to grasp fully how thorough t­ hese ontological commitments are: “commodification” comes closer. The prob­lem is something like this: turning the complexity of a world, of vari­ous ­peoples in full ecologies and vari­ous realities, into objects that can and should have value extracted from them. It is nothing short of an ontological revolution, long brewing in the West and facilitated by the encounter with the Amer­i­cas, lands perhaps easier to commodify for being unfamiliar.59 Moore’s book Capitalism in the Web of Life emphasizes the importance of extraction to cap­it­ al­ist histories, taking distinct forms in specific geographies connected with the succession of hegemons, from the Dutch to the British to the United States.60 Moore underscores modern agricultural regimes, for example, as being essential to cap­i­tal­ist success and notes that such regimes tend to exhaust the soil they depend on.61 Such farming thus resembles mining. Moore’s account accords with Mintz’s historicizing of the rise of slave-­produced sugar as part of a context of other cultural changes in G ­ reat Britain and beyond.62 Like Moore, Mintz l­ater disrupts the account that founds modernity and capitalism on more recent machinery, arguing instead that industrialism is better understood beginning with sugar manufacturing, in a pro­cess reaching back to the eastern Mediterranean ­after 1000,63 and taking distinctive form in the Ca­rib­bean sugar industry. Mintz quietly critiques the reasons for the bias that suggests industrialism began in Eu­rope, writing, “Scholars interested in the history of western industry quite predictably began with the artisans and craftsmen of Eu­rope. . . . ​It followed naturally that plantations ­were seen as by-­products of Eu­ro­pean endeavor rather than as an integral part of the growth from shop to factory.”64 By contrast, Mintz’s case that industrialism begins in many ways with the Atlantic sugar production system is much more cosmopolitan. This is so not only ­because of the roots of sugar production in Arab cultures,65 but also clearly ­because of the global nature of Atlantic sugar production itself, with its reliance on Eu­ro­pean shipping, pro­cessing, and markets; enslaved Africans; American land; and so on. It is cosmopolitan, complex, and horribly laborious: “The ­labor requirements w ­ ere horrendous,” leading to commonly “maimed” workmen,66 in a grotesquely neat historical symmetry with the harm to bodies of diets built excessively around sugar, a h­ azard clearer ­today than ever. The massive and systematic vio­lence of slavery has produced a “purified” staple product that itself tends to enact slow damage to ­human welfare. Mintz emphasizes that the conventional story of industrialism beginning in Eu­rope derives from ethnic biases, often unconscious perhaps, but one must won­der to what extent a more raw racism informs the historiography that renders enslaved workers as brute ­labor, despite their often quite-­skilled status,67 and the invention of machinery and technology as more Eu­ro­pean. Mintz is cautious around this topic. In any case, and more to the point of this chapter, it is clear that the brutal and systematic regime of l­abor practiced in sugar production was a model for the rising textile industry, worked by “­free” ­labor as distinct from slave l­abor. The importance of sugar plantations, Mintz further notes, discussing several of their industrial

Unfree Labor 81

features, “throw[s] rather provocative light on the common assertion that Eu­rope ‘developed’ the colonial world ­after the Eu­ro­pean heartland.”68 Instead, he implies throughout this section of his argument, the colonial world often functions as a model for the development of Eu­rope, and Eu­ro­pean industry. That point has general significance for global thinking, for questions of race and racism, but also, much more specifically, for the assertion in this chapter that regimes of slave ­labor formed a very impor­tant model for the growing norms around work that continue to function as naturalized truths in con­temporary cap­i­tal­ist cultures. ­These arrangements of production cannot be understood merely as technical advances or merely as intensifying brutality. Instead, Moore, following Marx, emphasizes the importance of w ­ hole sets of relations between l­abor, environment, and power, noting that mining production ­rose and fell in Eu­rope not ­because of “a straightforward pro­cess of geology limiting capital” but rather b­ ecause changes in the ­whole set of relations hurt productivity rates. ­There “­were prob­lems of rising wages and ­labor unrest, and of rising fuelwood and timber costs arising from confluence of metallurgical demand, urbanization, and deforestation.” Central Eu­rope’s mining decline “was resolved by turning to Petosí,” in modern-­day Bolivia. ­There, a mining boom began in 1545. But within two de­cades, “production collapsed” as “ore quality declined,” the initial extractive raid having taken the easier material, leading to a new social contract involving more firm l­abor control and new mining infrastructure.69 For Moore, this episode in Petosí exemplifies how all regimes of production hinge on the w ­ hole oikeios, the entire web of land, l­ abor, power, market, and more. The episode also reminds us that, as Reséndez makes clear in his history, the history of Indian slavery is, to a significant degree, a history of mining, beginning with the gold mines on Hispaniola and reaching through the massive and famous silver mines of Mexico, which w ­ ere larger by far than t­ hose of the California gold rush centuries ­later, both in terms of the time they endured (centuries for the silver mines, only a few years for California’s gold) and how much they produced: “Mexico’s silver boom produced roughly twelve times as much metal as the nineteenth-­ century gold rushes in the United States.”70 Reséndez, with his focus largely on the Amer­i­cas, further explains, “Coerced Indian ­labor played a fundamental role in the mining economies of Central Amer­ic­ a, the Ca­rib­bean, Colombia, Venezuela, the Andean region, and Brazil.”71 To operate the famous mine of Petosí, which “dwarfed all ­others in the Andes, . . . ​Spanish authorities instituted a gargantuan system of draft ­labor known as the mita, which required more than two hundred Indian communities spanning a large area in modern-­day Peru and Bolivia [to] send one-­ seventh their adult population to work in the mines of Potosí, Huancavelica, and Cailloma. In any given year, ten thousand Indians or more had to take their turns working in the mines. This state-­directed system began in 1573 and remained in operation for 250 years.”72 It is impossible to exaggerate how crucial the logic of extraction has been to the history of colonial imperialism globally, with workers extracted from already-­disrupted


Rya n Hediger

communities in order to extract silver and other minerals from an increasingly damaged Earth. That system of extraction hinged entirely on ­labor, and largely on slavery. But h­ ere unsettling the distinction between “­free” ­labor and slavery is again key. Reséndez, discussing the Indian workers awarded salaries in the mining camps, notes that “some historians have hailed ­these silver mines as the vanguard of the f­ree wage system in colonial Mexico.”73 Reséndez resists this view, noting that salaried workers did not replace slaves and forced laborers, but rather “coexisted with them” as a kind of “necessary evil” in a context where the short supply of ­labor was crucial, often understood as “the main limiting f­ actor in the production of silver.”74 He joins other historians of slavery to note, furthermore, how ostensibly ­free l­abor often differs ­little, practically, from slavery: workers might, for example, be “paid in clothes rather than cash.”75 Workers, from the sixteenth ­century forward to the twenty-­first, are also often captured in debt regimes that render them slaves in practice if not in name. As I noted in my introduction to this volume, we can see ­these work norms most nakedly when we watch how the logic of colonial encounter works, as in this passage written in 1572 by Martín Enríquez de Almanza, viceroy of Mexico, sent in a letter to the king of Spain, encouraging the monarch to better access workers in the Amer­i­cas: “For the mine ­owners the key is to have workers, and the [Black] slaves are not enough. I have already written to Your Majesty about the importance of sending Indians to the mines and paying good wages to them. Many of them go on their own accord and earn enough to eat well. But the natives are lazy by nature and do not persevere in any kind of work ­unless they are compelled.”76 For one ­thing, this final claim, or­ga­nized around a racist logic, works fairly well to describe practically all ­human workers across history—­many of us “do not persevere in any kind of work ­unless [we] are compelled,” especially if we recognize in systems of enculturation forms of compulsion. Many of us are inculcated with a work ethic at the root of our lives and thus fail to recognize that norm as produced, constructed, compelled, rather than natu­ral. In this way, the deep logic of work ethic actually prevents us from ever making a decision for ourselves about the place work should have in ­human life. But we also see in this civilizational clash radically dif­fer­ent cultural goals and purposes, a prob­lem that bedev­ils history, at least from Columbus forward. Getting work ethics enacted, typically via a panopoly of violent means, beginning with the whip and reaching to warfare, debt regimes, and so much more, is at the heart of colonizing practice. This statement also indicates, however, that Indian ­labor and slavery cannot be understood in isolation from Black slavery; the two systems fed on each other, w ­ ere modeled with and against each other.

Work and/as Torture Brutality and death clung to slavery and forced ­labor from the very beginning in the Amer­i­cas, but the application of torture and vio­lence to extract value from ­people became increasingly systematic with the growth of chattel slavery, a system

Unfree Labor 83

that had an impact on much of the planet, though it had central nodes. One key place, described by Edward E. Baptist, was the then Southwest of the United States, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas: Over seventy years, from the signing of the Constitution, in 1787, to the start of the Civil War, enslavers turned a vast area of 800,000 square miles, as big as Saudi Arabia and inhabited almost exclusively by about 50,000 Native Americans, into a subcontinent of slavery. Enslavers and their allies dispossessed two Eu­ro­pean empires, two postcolonial states, and six Native American nations. They moved one million forced mi­grants to the new territory. Within a single lifetime the entrepreneurs who masterminded this pro­cess had created a complex that produced 80 ­percent of the cotton sold in Britain, the world’s central market. Cotton made by ­people enslaved on the United States’ southwestern frontier was both the world’s most widely traded commodity and its most crucial industrial raw material.77

­These areas w ­ ere appropriated by the American military regime at the expense of Indian inhabitants, cleared of forests mostly by slave ­labor, and then subjected to an extreme regime of cotton production. As Baptist demonstrates, the ever-­ growing efficiency of cotton production depended upon torturing the enslaved workforce. And this is not just a general condemnation of slavery as fundamentally violent to ­human decency, which it is of course. It is much more focused. It involved forcing enslaved p­ eople in the cotton fields to pick faster and faster, year ­after year. Baptist’s treatment of this is horrifyingly specific, demonstrating the use of a regime of daily weighing of cotton picked, facilitated by the “forcing” of ­labor via techniques such as lining out workers across the field, selecting the fastest among them, and forcing that fast worker to work his or her fastest, setting the pace for the rest. That regime was reinforced by vio­lence in the fields—­the whip, or if necessary, the gun—­and by vio­lence at the day’s-­end weighing of picked ­cotton.78 Enslaved ­people who did not continue to pick the same or higher weights of cotton each day would be whipped or worse.79 Over time, this forced growth in productivity added up massively, “a growth in daily picking averages of some 400 ­percent between 1800 and 1860,” according to one of Baptist’s sources.80 This system of intense vio­lence helped to establish not only the capital reserves that could be reinvested in machinery and transport,81 but the widespread norms of work that continue to expand globally. Indeed, Baptist notes that this growth of efficiency in cotton picking is “comparable in magnitude to key mea­sures of growing efficiency in the British textile factory, the breeding ground of the factory system’s technological innovations.”82 As Baptist states, this fact undermines the conventional account of modernization as being rooted in machinery.83 Instead, violence-­induced l­abor played a massive, underrecognized, interdependent role. Furthermore, in concluding his essay, Baptist offers a bridge to the pre­sent essay and other similar arguments, discussing the “whipping machine,” the technological ensemble for “controlling and exploiting ­human beings”;84 “it ­will not take us


Rya n Hediger

long to draw links between the whipping machine—­and the entrepreneurial history of slavery’s expansion in the nineteenth ­century United States in general—­ and our own world.”85

Vagrancy Rather than supposing that sophisticated and enlightened machines supplanted brutal ­labor regimes in an orderly march of progressive history, then, it is truer to see many commercial interests pursuing any pos­si­ble means to extract value. The use of vagrancy systems offers another example. Vagrancy regimes have a long history in the post-­Columbus Amer­i­cas, permitting the power­ful to reject practices of life deemed other than laborious, and to require ­people to “work.” This practice, and its ideas of ­labor, w ­ ere long soaked through with racism. To briefly resketch a massive history in Mexico as an example: Hernán Cortés, ­after leading the conquest of the Aztecs, fortified his power by becoming “the largest owner of Indian slaves” in Mexico.86 But the Spanish crown objected to this practice and outlawed Indian slavery in 1542. Rather than succeeding in ending it, however, this edict drove slavery into other similar forms, many of which relied on vagrancy practices.87 The repartimiento system, for instance, began in 1552 with the Spanish declaration that, though Indians w ­ ere not slaves, they w ­ ere required to work as long as they w ­ ere paid: “unemployed or ‘lazy’ Indians would be rounded up and distributed to the miners in exchange for a nominal wage.”88 Across his book, Reséndez traces the history of this sort of forced ­labor forward to 1821, when Mexico succeeded in winning in­de­pen­dence from Spain and (again) outlawed Indian slavery. Yet again a­ fter 1821, however, vagrancy laws w ­ ere used to require l­abor from workers instead of slavery. Reséndez puts this in the larger context of debt peonage, “in place in Mexico as early as 1587,” and shows how it functions very much like slavery, with planters as late as 1908 buying and selling ­people. To obscure the realities of this practice, o­ wners simply gamed their language: in the words of a planter in 1908 (!), “Slavery is against the law; we do not call it slavery.”89 Such systems seem, again, easy to distinguish from the “­free” ­labor we are said to practice in our ostensibly enlightened moment, but our work norms are neither natu­ral nor universal. The long and ongoing history of trying to “civilize” “savage” Native tribes is a clear example of how t­hese norms are and have been fiercely contested,90 some of which I detailed above in connection with the Mormon settlement and colonization of Utah. Group ­after group of Indigenous ­peoples resisted attempts to get them to farm and to “­settle down,” often only d­ oing so ­because they ­were forced. The re­sis­tance often took the form of an entire cultural organ­ization, as with the cases of the Comanche and the Ute Indian raiding cultures that became prominent in the seventeenth ­century. Th ­ ese groups unnerved Spanish settlers in the Colorado Plateau region along with t­ hose in northern Mexico, Texas, and elsewhere.91

Unfree Labor 85

Vagrancy regimes, a recurrent tool in the effort to subdue Indian ­peoples, ­were put into ser­vice in the Jim Crow South as well. One of the through lines of Blackmon’s book is to show that more specific forms of ­labor borrow their brutality directly from slavery and its logic of white supremacy. But he also si­mul­ta­neously shows how industrial regimes of economic development intensified and in some ways worsened conditions from slavery. Thus, he organizes the book around a historically robust telling of the story of Green Cottenham, the g­ reat grand­son of Scipio Cottinham, his adapted spelling of his surname.92 Blackmon’s book begins, “On March  30, 1908, Green Cottenham was arrested by the sheriff of Shelby County, Alabama, and charged with ‘vagrancy.’ ” Green “had committed no true crime. Vagrancy, the offense of a person not being able to prove at a given moment that he or she is employed, was a new and flimsy concoction dredged up from ­legal obscurity” and its use, “in a time of massive unemployment among all southern men, was reserved almost exclusively for black men. Cottenham’s offense was blackness.”93 Green was sentenced to “a thirty-­day term of hard ­labor” that was extended ­because he could not “pay the array of fees assessed on e­ very prisoner,” turning into “nearly a year of hard ­labor.”94 In other words, the circumstance of underemployment, one that reached well beyond Black males, became an excuse to enact a policy of forced ­labor specifically on Black men. The work ethic—so often understood as an unquestionable good for every­one— here becomes precisely an instrument of racism, used in ­these twisted ways. First, the status of being unemployed is weaponized, and then the punishment is forced ­labor. Clearly, work is available to do, but the terms of ­labor are controlled by and for owner­ship rather than workers. Blackmon reports that Green was then “sold” to a subsidiary of the U.S. Steel Corporation and forced to work in a coal mine, Slope No. 12, for “nearly e­ very waking hour.” He “was subject to the whip for failure to dig the requisite amount, at risk of physical torture for disobedience, and vulnerable to the sexual predations of other miners.”95 Living conditions ­were poor, cut through by disease, contributing to the fact that, before the end of Green’s year of work, “almost sixty men forced into Slope 12 ­were dead of disease, accidents, or hom­i­cide. Most of the broken bodies, along with hundreds of o­ thers before and a­ fter, ­were dumped into shallow graves scattered among the refuse of the mine. ­Others ­were incinerated in nearby ovens used to blast millions of tons of coal.” ­These men “­were slaves in all but name,” Blackmon emphasizes96—­again, this is the early twentieth ­century—­and t­ here are clear continuities between this regime of ­labor and the efficiency-­minded vio­lence of the cotton field discussed by Baptist.97 Blackmon’s description is striking also b­ ecause of how t­ hese men’s bodies, their very materiality, are treated like the other “resources” involved in the industry, buried “among the refuse of the mine” or “incinerated” just as the coal itself was. In Alabama, as in so many other places, both the land and Black ­humans w ­ ere rendered into objects that could be transformed into profit. The vio­lence inherent in this transformation also appears in the radically remade landscape, bereft of g­ reat forests, and in the “­great columns of foul smoke and rivers of effluent” that Blackmon


Rya n Hediger

describes as emanating from the early coal mines and ironworks of Alabama.98 Racist logic facilitates and participates in the larger system of objectification. To some extent, the Anthropocene clarifies the failure of the ontological divide of white supremacy, which aims to foist damage on Black bodies, nonhuman lives, and landscapes, but to protect White bodies and lives. It fails insofar as all forms of life do ultimately experience effects of this regime of activity. But the effects are far from equal. As Andreas Malm argues in closing Fossil Capital, the real­ity is still “differentiated vulnerability”: “For the foreseeable ­future—­indeed, as long as ­there are class socie­ties on earth—­there ­will be lifeboats for the rich and privileged, and ­there ­will not be any shared sense of catastrophe. More than ever, class divisions ­will become ­matters of life and death.” The privileged few insure themselves and even thrive, finding “sweet profits” in the cataclysmic changes, but the harm of such systems reaches the majority of ­human and nonhuman lives on Earth.99 In other words, the pattern beginning with Columbus persists. Blackmon’s account also echoes the work collected in Slavery’s Capitalism, where the traditional opposition between industry (associated with the North) and agriculture (associated with the South) is called into question.100 Demonstrating the clear connection between slave agriculture and slave industry is one of Blackmon’s key themes, as he shows how the same pro­cesses of clearing the land for farming and of work in mining and producing iron happened in the same places, often u­ nder the hands of the very same laborers. Blackmon’s story of Scipio Cottinham exemplifies this history in a single h­ uman lifespan. Cottinham’s life stretched from a birth in Africa, perhaps being shipped to the southeastern frontier of Alabama from V ­ irginia like many other enslaved ­people, to “de­cades spent clearing forest and planting virgin fields” of “Indian land” in Alabama previously inhabited by Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw Indians,101 to working on the cotton production of the Cottingham plantation, to being leased out to work as an enslaved person in the ironworks. While e­ very part of this experience would have been horribly trying, Blackmon emphasizes slave industrialism as part of a pro­cess of squeezing “efficiency” out of slave l­ abor more generally. He writes, “Farm production was by its nature an inefficient cycle of l­abor, with intense periods of work in the early spring planting season and then idleness during the months of ‘laid-by’ time in the summer, and then another ­great burst of harvest activity in the fall and early winter, followed fi­nally by more months of frigid inactivity. Slave o­ wners ­were keen to maximize the return on their most valuable assets, and as new opportunities for renting out the ­labor of their slaves arose, the most clever of slave masters quickly responded.”102 Such focus on efficiency and the maximization of value is not fundamentally dif­ fer­ent from the dominant values that drive economic, social, and po­liti­cal policy in cap­i­tal­ist nations up to the pre­sent moment, though of course the regimes for extracting ­labor have in many cases been gentled—in many cases. The perversity of slavery’s logic was vis­i­ble in the horribly ironic fact emphasized by Blackmon that enslaved p­ eople ­were at the heart of the industrial system

Unfree Labor 87

that not only produced “the plows, h­ orse­shoes, and implements that w ­ ere the civilizing tools of the Alabama frontier,”103 but also de­cades ­later, enslaved ­people ­were the primary workers, at all levels of skill, in ironworks that made the guns, armor, and other devices used by the Confederacy in their attempt to preserve slavery in the Civil War.104 Enslaved p­ eople w ­ ere always required to work despite or even directly against their own personal interests, but in the case of the Civil War, this enforced ­labor was especially perverse. The case of the con­temporary worker, not enslaved in the literal sense, is legible nonetheless as a more benign version of the same paradox, in which the cultural requirement to ­labor evacuates the plea­sure and value of one’s time, turning hours into resources for owner­ship to use, even as it supports a larger set of changes that also harm the worker with pollution, a steady erasure of Earth’s won­ders including forests, clean rivers, wild animals, and then fi­nally basic room to move. The pro­cess of so-­called improvement is often seen to benefit h­ umans, and in some clear ways it does, but the cost–­ benefit analy­sis leaves so much out that it can only be called a form of generalized repression, a cultural amnesia that reaches throughout recent history. The Anthropocene requires us to rethink the social contract, to refigure our values. As Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt shows, and as discussed in this volume’s introduction, such rethinking is not actually anti-­American or antidemo­cratic at all.105 Rather, ­there has long been an American strain of thinking that insists on positioning the value of work beneath the larger value of life, and we should activate that strain. ­Labor versus life, extraction versus care, ­these antagonisms are one of the key structuring concepts of the pre­sent volume of essays. In Hunnicutt’s account, that strain remained power­ful all the way up to the key moment in 1930, when President Roo­se­velt nearly signed a bill to nationalize a thirty-­hour workweek. This would not come to pass; Hunnicutt speculates that business lobbying convinced the president to reject the idea.106 But the larger point is that such dif­fer­ent thinking about work is far from impossible, and it has reemerged in new forms with ideas like universal basic income and the Green New Deal. At the general level, such thinking insists that democracy more actively connect questions of l­abor with questions of environment. The two, of course, have never been separate, since l­ abor has always sought to transform the environment. Slavery is only the most violent and clear example of how regimes of work can be antidemo­cratic. But a true democracy in the Anthropocene would do much more to reckon with its history of slavery and antidemocracy not only in questions of economic justice and reparations, but in the purposes and effects of work—on the planet and on all of its life.

Work as Necropo­liti­c al To reiterate a key point, then, one underscored by Achille Mbembe, democracy is a system founded on a deep paradox with regard to freedom. This is clearest and most violent in the cases of slavery and Indigenous displacement. As Mbembe reiterates, discussing figures like Thomas Jefferson, W.E.B. Dubois, and Alexis de


Rya n Hediger

Tocqueville, “Democracy, the plantation, and the colonial empire are objectively all part of the same historical matrix.”107 Mbembe reminds us that democracy’s “official story” is one of peace and legitimacy of pro­cess,108 but that this story is only pos­si­ble ­because “the brutality of democracies has simply been swept u­ nder the carpet.”109 The phi­los­op­ hers who advocated the triumph of “freedom” in the form of democracy ­were typically the ­people largely ­free from the regimes of ­labor that made every­ thing pos­si­ble, a privileged minority. Their philosophical conceit of “freedom” did indeed apply to them in many ways, but at the expense of ­whole systems of cultural and ecological real­ity. Most h­ umans in this regime ­were not ­free. To the extent that they made, for example, l­abor decisions, or consumption decisions, t­ hose decisions ­were always already conditioned by larger forms of social force. Mintz makes this point explic­itly in discussing the ostensible freedom prized in consumer capitalism. He notes how power­ful the larger “context” is in such decision making, “a set of situations, created by broad economic forces; within that context new food ‘choices’ are made. . . . ​The choice between a ‘Danish’ pastry and a ‘French’ doughnut during a ten-­minute coffee break is a choice, but the circumstances ­under which this choice is made may not be freely chosen.”110 False choices, constrained freedoms, are essential to the framework of extractive capitalism. They also helped to sustain slavery, in Frederick Douglass’s estimation, as he suggests in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Discussing the time off afforded to enslaved p­ eoples between Christmas and New Year’s, he interprets enslavers’ tendency to encourage excessive drink as aimed “to disgust their slaves with freedom.”111 The logic ­there is binary: ­either one is working and productive, or in complete and even exhausting dissipation. Much of this attitude remains ­today. That thinking is a product of a culture stewed in “workism” and still very much in the thrall of a logic of slavery. Douglass’s re­sis­tance to this binary was part of his larger rejection of the slavery system. Such realities stand for much of the ostensible liberty available to “the West” in the age of democracy and “reason.” A certain regime of decision making is facilitated—­freed, if you like—­but only by suppressing a range of other freedoms, most especially how we conduct ourselves moment to moment, day to day. Our time is colonized by work. Cap­i­tal­ist democracies structurally devalue workers’ time and uniqueness, fitting us instead into recognizable regimes of work to produce a certain kind of socially recognized value (mea­sured in gross domestic product, consumption, ­etc.) at the cost of other kinds of ghost values, such as ecological robustness, open horizons of time and space, and so on. We lose more than choice. Indeed, in Necropolitics, Mbembe points to a necropo­liti­cal form of power that differs from that of the colonies, one that is “more extreme”: power is exerted over bodies not so much to make them work as to make them die, the “massacre.” In t­hese more brutally violent regimes, “fiefdoms” rather than ­whole nation-­states are at stake, “especially if they contain mineral deposits.”112 Geography is balkanized in pursuit of extraction. While, in one sense, such regimes seem to go beyond the forms of control in ­labor in its more familiar, colonial sense, I underscore the continuity between ­these systems. Both

Unfree Labor 89

require designating forms of real­ity as mere resources, and necropo­liti­cal regimes show more willingness to lay ­human life to waste at the same time, and as part of the same pro­cess, as happens in mineral extraction, which ruins w ­ hole ecologies too. In ­these scenarios, work kills life. But we should pause to reiterate the necropolitics of the colonies as well. They relied on the transatlantic slave trade and the huge system of American Indian slavery that w ­ ere both enormously destructive of h­ uman life. Yes, enslaved p­ eople ­were extremely valuable, but their deaths ­were also readily accepted and deliberately produced. Even the survivors lost their lives in a sense. Mbembe himself describes it this way: “Slave life, in many ways, is a form of death-­in-­life.” Slaves experience, he emphasizes, “a t­ riple loss: loss of a ‘home,’ loss of rights over one’s body, and loss of po­liti­cal status.”113 So slavery’s biopo­liti­cal regime was necro­ po­liti­cal at the same time. Mbembe’s phrasing also applies relatively well to the dislocation of peasants, making them “­free workers” in British enclosure.114 In one sense, necropolitics seems to me an extension and intensification of what we see in ­labor ideologies, in which individuals are stripped of their ability to decide what ­matters. ­Labor norms, work norms, transform ­people and culture more slowly, so that value can only be determined in relation to economics and the market. That value system is accepted in necropolitics, and no alternative even seems in view. So killing, massacring, is just a faster and more absolute version of the same dynamic pre­sent in most l­ abor. Both are premised on the absence of value internal to ­human lives or local ecologies, which are evacuated to be made into resources for production, and that ontological vio­lence facilitates worldly vio­lence.115 That intensification and redoubled effort, expanding core premises that drive capitalism, is also vis­i­ble in another topic treated by Mbembe: the rapid expansion of big data, with its impacts throughout life. Big data, with its rapid algorithmic calculations, “are inspired by the natu­ral world and ideas of natu­ral se­lection and evolution,” fueling “networks of extraction and predation” that drive “anthropogenic climate change, degenerative land-­use change, biodiversity loss,” and so on. In this world of high technology, “life itself is increasingly being perceived as a commodity to be replicated u­ nder the volatility of market consumption.”116 Again, I emphasize the continuity between this form of understanding and ­earlier, inchoate forms in developing cap­it­ al­ist colonialism. Technology, data, and widespread orientation of ­human activity around ­labor have simply extended and intensified the instrumentalization of real­ity that was already pre­sent in colonial imperialist regimes.117 Furthermore, the objection to the inhumanity of slavery tends to reiterate a humanist framework that downplays the massive damage done to nonhuman life and presence by that same enslaving, commodifying system of capitalism, in plantations, feedlots, forest clearing, ocean overfishing and die-­offs, and so much e­ lse, in a list that seems to reach right to the ends of our knowledge itself. Nonhumans are made to resemble slaves, or perhaps more aptly, to become “disposable” in a necropo­liti­cal regime. This disposability resembles the charges of vagrancy, of


Rya n Hediger

uselessness made against p­ eoples victimized by colonialist imperialism and capitalism, so that a cultural logic revictimizes its victims much as enslaved p­ eoples had to build armaments for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Such ecological damage cycles back to ­humans in a range of ways, perhaps most spectacularly in the sequence of con­temporary pandemics like MERS, SARS, and most dramatically, COVID-19, resulting from our interactions with animals, a disease that itself has had uneven impacts along lines of race and class.118 ­These are the more obvious forms. Less obviously, more insidiously, this ontological system also radically simplifies our ways of thinking about ourselves and the world, undermining resources for change. The self is now a product of this ontological system in terms of values, experiences, temporality. This is so in that the world has been remade around us in a form that supports massive commodification— in monocrop landscapes, shopping mall values, and so on. It is also so in the ways that we experience or confront entities that have been less dominated or transformed by t­ hese systems—­the recruitment of mountain landscapes for SUV commercials, the enfolding of beaches into all-­inclusive resorts to escape ­labor by foisting it onto other workers, the transformation of wild animals into cartoonlike icons for airlines (Frontier) or insurance companies (Hartford, GEICO, and so on). It is a commonplace ­today that nowhere on Earth remains pristine, out of the reach of h­ uman pollution and desecration, but t­ here has been less appreciation of how this is equally true of our forms of knowledge and experience. Making such realities explicit makes rethinking pos­si­ble. One essential and relatively ­simple argument offered in this chapter and this volume is just this, then: We should return questions about the place of work and work norms to the public square, where we can have genuine deliberations about them. Let us take the opportunity to actually ask ­these questions in the context of the Anthropocene.119

Notes 1. ​Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in Amer­ic­ a

(Boston: Mari­ner Books, 2016), 317–321. 2. ​Alish Ebrahimji, “Black Lives ­Matter Protests ­Aren’t Just Happening in Big Cities: ­They’re Also in Amer­ic­ a’s Small Towns,” CNN, June  6, 2020, https://­www​.­cnn​.c­ om​/­2020​/­06​/­06​/­us​ /­small​-­town​-­blm​-­protests​-­trnd​/­index​.­html. Jen Kirby, “  ‘Black Lives ­Matter’ Has Become a Global Rallying Cry against Racism and Police Brutality,” Vox, June 12, 2020, https://­www​.v­ ox​ .­com​/­2020​/­6​/­12​/­21285244​/­black​-­lives​-­matter​-­global​-­protests​-­george​-­floyd​-u­ k​-­belgium. 3. ​Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-­Baptiste Fressoz, The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History, and Us, trans. David Fernbach (London: Verso, 2016). See also Kyle Keeler, “Colonial Theft and Indigenous Re­sis­tance in the Kleptocene,” Edge Effects, September 8, 2020, https://­ edgeeffects​.n­ et​/­kleptocene​/­. 4. ​James C. Scott, Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 3–5. 5. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, 1–2. 6. ​Reséndez, 6. 7. ​Reséndez, 5.

Unfree Labor 91

8. ​Reséndez, 5. 9. ​Reséndez, 319. 10. ​Reséndez, 319. 11. ​Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,

Tenth Anniversary Edition (New York: New Press, 2020), xvi. 12. ​This claim echoes other arguments, such as ­those of Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing on ideas of a “Plantationocene.” See Donna Haraway et al., “Anthropologists Are Talking—­About the Anthropocene,” Ethnos 81, no. 3 (2016): 555–557. 13. ​Douglas  A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-­Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (New York: Anchor, 2008), 4. 14. ​Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North Amer­i­ca (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998), 2. 15. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, 301–302. 16. ​Richard Hofstadter, “The Myth of the Happy Yeoman,” American Heritage 7, no. 3 (1956), https://­www​.a­ mericanheritage​.­com​/­myth​-­happy​-­yeoman. 17. ​Berlin, Many Thousands Gone, 4. 18. ​Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (New York: Zone Books, 2015), esp. 38. Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics, trans. Steven Corcoran (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019). 19. ​Alexander, New Jim Crow, 25–73, esp. 30, 41, 43, and 56. 20. ​On “workism,” see Derek Thompson, “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable,” The Atlantic, February 24, 2019, https://­www​.­theatlantic​.c­ om​/­ideas​/­archive​/­2019​/­02​/­religion​-w ­ orkism​ -­making​-­americans​-­miserable​/­583441​/­. 21. ​David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2018). 22. ​Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, eds., Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). 23. ​ Edward  E. Baptist, “­Toward a Po­liti­cal Economy of Slave L ­ abor: Hands, Whipping-­ Machines, and Modern Power,” in Beckert and Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism, 40–41. 24. ​Caitlin Rosenthal, “Slavery’s Scientific Management: Masters and Man­ag­ers,” in Beckert and Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism, 62. 25. ​Rosenthal, 63. 26. ​Daniel B. Rood, “An International Harvest: The Second Slavery, the Virginia-­Brazil Connection, and the Development of the McCormick Reaper,” in Beckert and Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism, 87. 27. ​Bonnie Martin, “Neighbor-­to-­Neighbor Capitalism: Local Credit Networks and the Mortgaging of Slaves,” in Beckert and Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism, 107–121; Edward E. Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 2014). 28. ​Baptist, “­Toward a Po­liti­cal Economy of Slave L ­ abor,” 35. 29. ​Martin, “Neighbor-­to-­Neighbor Capitalism.” 30. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, 302. 31. ​Reséndez, 302. 32. ​Similarly, see Scott, Against the Grain, for his use of the term “mesmerized” with reference to the effect of power­ful centralized regimes on historians and analysts (7, 15). 33. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, 242–244. Some Navajos in this period, Reséndez notes, also “held hundreds of slaves seized in raids on the Pueblos, Utes, Apaches, Hispanics, and Americans” (244). In Resendez’s account, this fact is part of the much more general prevalence of slavery across the U.S. Southwest, a region hugely affected by Euro-­American incursions across the Amer­i­cas, as he details. 34. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, esp. 304–314.


Rya n Hediger

35. ​Reséndez, 305. 36. ​Jennifer Rae Greeson, “The Prehistory of Possessive Individualism,” PMLA: Publications of

the Modern Language Association of Amer­i­ca 127, no. 4 (2012): 918–924. See also Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (New York: Vintage, 1992), 56; and Susan Buck-­Morss, “Hegel and Haiti,” Critical Inquiry 26, no. 4 (2000): 821–865. 37. ​Juliet  B. Schor, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (New York: Basic Books, 1992), 14. 38. ​Resendez’s account makes this point repeatedly. For another related account focused on the Old Northwest, the region north of the Ohio River, see John P. Bowes, Land Too Good for Indians: Northern Indian Removal (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016). 39. ​Quoted in Reséndez, Other Slavery, 263. 40. ​Reséndez, 263; see also 306. 41. ​Reséndez, 263–264. 42. ​Reséndez, 275. 43. ​Reséndez, 266–277. 44. ​Sidney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (New York: Penguin, 1985), 59. 45. ​Karl Marx, Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Po­liti­cal Ecol­ogy, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Penguin, 1976), 925. 46. ​Mintz, Sweetness and Power, 57. 47. ​Jason  W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecol­ogy and the Accumulation of Capital (London: Verso, 2015). See also Timothy Clark, Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept (London: Bloomsbury, 2015); and Timothy Morton, Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman ­People (London: Verso, 2017). Morton engages this topic in many of his books. 48. ​Mintz, Sweetness and Power, e.g., 61. 49. ​Mintz, 61. 50. ​Mintz, 61. 51. ​Mintz, 158. 52. ​Mintz, 157. 53. ​Scott, Against the Grain. 54. ​Kathyrn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018). 55. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, 18–45. 56. ​Reséndez, 28; emphasis in the original. 57. ​Berlin summarizes and uses the distinction between “socie­ties with slaves,” in which slavery is less dominant, and “slave socie­ties,” where “slavery stood at the center of economic production” (8). He designates the South as a slave society beginning around 1670 (10). At times, he argues, the North also approached becoming a slave society (177). See Berlin, Many Thousands Gone. 58. ​On the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, and their hesitation to permit enslavement of Ca­rib­bean Indians, see Reséndez, Other Slavery, 26–28. 59. ​On changes in h ­ uman thinking about land and landownership, see Andro Linklater, Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Owner­ship (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013); for challenges to the ontological commitments of slavery, see Timothy Morton, esp. Dark Ecol­ogy: For a Logic of ­Future Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016) and Humankind. 60. ​Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life, esp. 141–165. I echo Donna Haraway’s cautionary note, however, about the hazardous universalizing tendencies of many forms of Marxism: Donna  J. Haraway, Staying with the Trou­ble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016), 50. 61. ​Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life, esp. 241–290. 62. ​Mintz, Sweetness and Power, 14. 63. ​Mintz, 50–51.

Unfree Labor 93

64. ​Mintz, 48. 65. ​Mintz, 23–27. 66. ​Mintz, 49–50. 67. ​Rood, “International Harvest,” 95–96; and Baptist, “­Toward a Po­liti­cal Economy of Slave

­Labor,” 55. 68. ​Mintz, Sweetness and Power, 52. 69. ​Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life, 122. 70. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, 103; see 100–104 for a fuller comparison between the two mining regimes. 71. ​Reséndez, 123. 72. ​Reséndez, 123–124. 73. ​Reséndez, 112. 74. ​Reséndez, 113, 110. 75. ​Reséndez, 114; for more on such practices, see Berlin, Many Thousands Gone, 3–5; see also Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name. 76. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, 110. 77. ​Baptist, “­Toward a Po­liti­cal Economy of Slave L ­ abor,” 35. 78. ​Baptist, 34. 79. ​Baptist, 50. 80. ​Baptist, 42. 81. ​Mintz, Sweetness and Power, 61, also cited above. 82. ​Baptist, “­Toward a Po­liti­cal Economy of Slave L ­ abor,” 42. 83. ​Baptist, 44. 84. ​Baptist, 57. 85. ​Baptist, 61. 86. ​Reséndez, Other Slavery, 66. 87. ​Reséndez, 46–75, esp. 74. 88. ​Reséndez, 71. 89. ​Reséndez, 238–239. 90. ​See Reséndez, 235, for the use of this language in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. 91. ​Resendez, 172–195. Another example is the Salish Kootenai novelist, professor, activist, and administrator D’Arcy McNickle, whose compelling novel Wind from an ­Enemy Sky dramatizes the effort to force a fictional tribe in the Pacific Northwest to move from their traditional ways to farming. The effort to do so splits two ­brothers, who are leaders in the community, and presses events ­toward a tragic climax. McNickle understood the plot as broadly representative of encounters between cultures. On this last point, see Dorothy R. Parker, Singing an Indian Song: A Biography of D’Arcy McNickle (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), 225. 92. ​In Slavery by Another Name, Blackmon emphasizes the tension surrounding naming practices in slavery (and ­after), a tension also pre­sent in the Cottinham/Cottenham ­family. He mentions “common slaves who called themselves versions of the same name” (9), emphasizes that “Scipio” is a mocking name often imposed on slaves (32), and recognizes Scipio’s agency in revising his surname: “He took the name Cottinham” (60). 93. ​Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name, 1. 94. ​Blackmon, 1. 95. ​Blackmon, 1–2. 96. ​Blackmon, 2. 97. ​Baptist, “­Toward a Po­liti­cal Economy of Slave L ­ abor,” 35, 50. 98. ​Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name, 46. 99. ​Andreas Malm, Fossil Capital: The Roots of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming (London: Verso, 2016), 391.


Rya n Hediger

100. ​Moore also undermines that distinction in his chapter on cheap food, in Capitalism in the Web of Life, 241–290. 101. ​Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name, 31–32. 102. ​Blackmon, 34. 103. ​Blackmon, 46. 104. ​Blackmon, 49. 105. ​Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt, ­Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream (Philadelphia: ­Temple University Press, 2013). 106. ​Hunnicutt, 118. 107. ​Mbembe, Necropolitics, 23. 108. ​Mbembe, 18. 109. ​Mbembe, 16. 110. ​Mintz, Sweetness and Power, 181–182. 111. ​Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845; Mineola, NY: Dover, 1995), 45. 112. ​Mbembe, Necropolitics, 86–87. 113. ​Mbembe, 74–75. 114. ​See Marx, Capital, 874, for instance, for a description along ­these lines. 115. ​Malm also emphasizes continuities among economic and social forms of extraction across history (Fossil Capital, 393). 116. ​Mbembe, Necropolitics, 95–96. 117. ​For a classic account of how then cutting-­edge technology facilitated colonial imperialism, see David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1990), 240–259. 118. ​Smriti Mallapaty, “Animal Source of the Coronavirus Continues to Elude Scientists,” Nature, May  18, 2020, https://­www​.­nature​.­com​/­articles​/­d41586​-­020​-­01449​-­8. On the uneven impacts of COVID-19, see Thomas M. Selden and Terceira A. Berdahl, “COVID-19 and Racial/ Ethnic Disparities in Health Risk, Employment, and House­hold Composition,” Health Affairs, July 14, 2020, preprint edition, https://­www​.­healthaffairs​.o­ rg​/­doi​/­10​.­1377​/­hlthaff​.­2020​.0­ 0897. 119. ​Even Fox News has reported on a call for a “­Great Reset” of global capitalism in the context of COVID-19 and Black Lives ­Matter protests. See Justin Haskins, “Al Gore, UN Secretary-­General, ­Others Now Demanding ‘­Great Reset’ of Global Capitalism.” Fox News, June 25, 2020, https://­www​ .­foxbusiness​.­com​/­markets​/­al​-­gore​-­un​-­secretary​-g­ eneral​-­great​-­reset​-g­ lobal​-c­ apitalism.



n his study of the origins of the novel, Lennard J. Davis wrote that “the gaunt figure of a man on a ­horse, out of place and out of time, seems to cast his shadow over any discussion of the Eu­ro­pean novel.”1 Even though his reference was most prob­ably to Pablo Picasso’s famous 1955 sketch of Don Quixote, Davis’s statement points to the importance of Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1605) in these discussions for representing a transition from the medieval chivalric ­ romance to a more realistic form of prose writing. In fact, Davis’s remark was also full of potential for a posthumanist understanding of the rise of the En­glish novel as a genre that was dependent on the actions of “a man on a h­ orse.” Such dependence of the novel on ­horses was especially true for the period between the late 1740s and the late 1840s, a period that I refer to as “the Early Anthropocene Age” ­here.2 The period is from about the eve of the Industrial Revolution to the 1850s, by which time the revolution “had almost completely transformed ­England and 95


Sin a n A killi

had spread to many other countries in Eu­rope and across the Atlantic to North Amer­i­ca.”3 It was as if the outcome of the new Eu­ro­pean regime of conquest and extraction that the Spanish conquistadores, who w ­ ere not exactly “quixotic” in their pursuits, had initiated and governed on the backs of their h­ orses was now traveling back to its source in the Amer­ic­ as: it was this new regime that had made pos­si­ble the capital accumulation necessary for the Revolution. It was also in this hundred-­year period that the En­glish novel rapidly grew into maturity. In Michael McKeon’s words, with the works of Henry Fielding and Samuel Richardson in the 1740s, the En­glish novel “come[s] to the end of its origins” and “begins . . . ​to enter new territory.”4 The hundred years that followed witnessed the flourishing of the En­glish novel. With reference to Daniel Defoe’s “genre-­defining” work Robinson Crusoe (1719), in their introduction to the “Lit­er­a­ture and Extraction” issue of the journal MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, Alok Amatya and Ashley Dawson point out that “at the moment of its inception as a genre, the novel was tightly focused on resource extraction.”5 However, Amatya and Dawson’s discussion develops on the need to make vis­i­ble the extraction, especially of petroleum, in the novels of the centuries following its maturation as a genre. Such focus on extraction is also to be found in Kathryn Yusoff ’s A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (2018), which offers a compelling analy­sis of how the extraction of mineral resources in the New World was accompanied by the discursive construction of Black slaves as inanimate objects as well.6 Clearly, the extraction of ­labor in the making of the Anthropocene is a new dimension in Anthropocene studies. Nonetheless, the l­abor of nonhuman animals continues to be neglected in this context. On this background, in this chapter I ­will basically argue that the novel genre, even though typically connected to leisure in the context of its birth, could not possibly have flourished, or even emerged, if it w ­ ere not for the equine species and their narrative l­abor, which grows out of their ­actual ­labor. In a similar remark, Mario Ortiz-­Robles has argued that even “the history of lit­er­a­ture as a ­whole could be read . . . ​as an attempt to define the role of the h­ orse in ­human culture.”7 Though a substantial point, the fulfillment of the prospects of such a reading must go beyond the “role of the ­horse in h­ uman culture.” A more productive reading is made pos­si­ble by seeing lit­er­a­ture as a plane on which the “confus[ion] and conflati[on]”8 of h­ umans and animals take place. But then again, how exactly can we effectively “confuse and conflate” h­ umans and nonhumans in understanding lit­er­a­ture? The prospects are exciting when we try to see works of lit­er­a­ture as products of the interspecies dependence and cooperative ­labor of the h­ uman and the nonhuman animals, and also take into account the roles of ­matter and semiosis in this production pro­cess as well. In this pre­sent attempt to provide an example of such an analytical approach, I ­will first try to put the Anthropocene context in dialogue with the “rise of the novel” debate. Then, by adopting a critical position informed by Karen Barad’s “agential realism” and the field of modern biosemiotics,9 I ­will illustrate my argument about the narrative ­labor of ­horses in the Early Anthropocene Age. I ­will

The Rise of the Novel 97

refer to three novels selected from the beginning, the m ­ iddle, and the end of this period: Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews (1742), Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818), and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1848). The analy­sis is intended less to offer detailed and thorough readings of ­these texts, and more to encourage a new way of reading a w ­ hole tradition. The approach, then, is more longue durée, putting not so much a single literary text at its center, but rather the ­horse. It is impor­tant to note that almost in the ­middle of this century-­long period also stands James Watt’s 1784 invention of a working steam locomotive. For Watt’s invention started a pro­cess in which ­horses began to be replaced with “horse­power” first, and with “iron h­ orses” by the end of the Early Anthropocene. However, notwithstanding this technological revolution, the extraction of equine l­abor continued not only in the names of the machinery that was ultimately to replace them or in the streets and the fields, but also, as ­will be shown, in the rise of the En­glish novel. The “Anthropocene,” however defined, is a controversial term. Perhaps the most obvious point of controversy, as noted in this volume’s introduction, is the date that should be accepted as the beginning of this originally stratigraphical unit: the Columbian Exchange, the Industrial Revolution, and the 1945 beginning of the ­Great Acceleration are the strongest candidates so far. However, as Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor also contend, the main discussion about the Anthropocene should not be “the point at which it began,” but should focus on “the conditions of life within it.”10 As ­will be explicated below, “the conditions of life” in the Early Anthropocene, when “the semiosphere [wa]s, in effect supplanting the biosphere,”11 ­were quite decisive in the rise of the novel. As coined by Yuri  M. Lotman, the “semiosphere” is “the semiotic space necessary for the existence and functioning of languages.”12 For Lotman, this space “fills the borders of culture, without which separate semiotic systems cannot function or come into being.”13 Consequently, Lotman argues, “outside the semiosphere ­there can be neither communication, nor language.”14 In the Early Anthropocene, the “semiosphere” was rapidly expanding, and defining the borders of a new cultural and linguistic space. In this regard, my argument h­ ere about the centrality of h­ orses in the rise of the novel as a distinct genre is also aligned with Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s understanding of the Anthropocene as “an engine of narrativity.”15 For in this period of intensive fusion of ­matter and semiosis—­though traditionally remembered as the age of the “steam engine” producing “horsepower”—­horses themselves w ­ ere performing ­labor as “engines of narrativity” as well. Clearly, the debate around the Anthropocene controversy is productive of new critical positions. A recent criticism of the term “Anthropocene” has been on the anthropocentric implications attached to the idea of defining the latest geological epoch as the “Age of Humankind.”16 This term, Susan M. Rustick argues, “is comparable to the experience of Narcissus, peering at his own reflection in the pond.”17 “The pond itself does not exist for Narcissus”; Rustick reflects, “The trees and sky above the pond do not exist. All that exists is the gazer enrapt by his own image.”18 Of course, such narcissism was not intended by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer


Sin a n A killi

when they suggested the term with reference to the profound and unpre­ce­dented impact of the Homo sapiens activity on our planet since the Industrial Revolution, a history understood partly in terms of extraction in this volume.19 However, perceived as such, the term does seem to presume the separateness of any ­human activity from nonhuman entities. As Morten Tønnessen and Kristin Armstrong Oma rightly observe, “the role and place of animals has so far received relatively ­little attention in the Anthropocene discourse” even though they too played a “central role in how the Anthropocene emerged.”20 Therefore, also with reference to Donna Haraway’s critique of the term for ignoring how “assemblages of organic species and of abiotic actors make history,”21 they suggest that we should start seeing this period in history as “co-­authored by h­ umans and animals” and the “the deep interspecies entanglements” as one of its “defining traits.”22 In this chapter, I take this “co-authoring” analogy quite literally and argue that ­horses had a major role in the rise and maturation of the En­glish novel as a distinct literary genre in the Early Anthropocene Age. This case for the importance of the ­horse also asks us to rethink many of the prevailing norms about ­human relationships with the nonhuman, which tend to insist on ­human dominance and nonhuman subservience. Yet this case about h­ orses makes them more like a companion species in Donna Haraway’s sense, pushing back against the command-­and-­control logic that tends to animate ­human thinking about animals and ­human regimes of ­labor in general. In that way, the work of ­horses is closer kin to the kind of work described by Jennifer Ladino (chapter  9  in this volume), a ­labor centered much more on relationality and less on dominance. Such work, which I explore in terms of semiosis, changes the very valence and texture of “work.” To put this argument into its wider context, this chapter connects its case to a number of thinkers and theorists before briefly scrutinizing some literary texts. As noted by Davis, the noticeable works in the “the rise of the novel” debate have so far explored the role of social and economic issues, as in Ian Watt’s seminal work The Rise of the Novel (1964), the negation of “aristocratic values” by “scientific rationality,” which is the core of McKeon’s discussion in The Origins of the Novel, 1600–1740 (1987), as well as the roles of the domestic ­woman and the criminal.23 As his own contribution to the debate, Davis attributes a formative role to eighteenth-­century journalism by arguing that novel and journalism w ­ ere “intricately interconnected” and that “the rise of print culture created new categories of textuality,”24 which in turn informed the practice of novel writing. Clearly, all of ­these critical appreciations are conventionally concerned with and centered on the Homo sapiens society and culture. However, rethinking this debate by bringing the role of the equids in this historical period into the equation offers a novel perspective. Davis too points to the 1740s when Samuel Richardson, and especially, Fielding produced their works as the point at which readers “would have been able to recognize a par­tic­u­lar act of writing as a novel.”25 He attributes more credit to Fielding for being “the founder, or cofounder, of a new species of writing” and for “abandoning such devices as

The Rise of the Novel 99

authorial disavowal and the ‘found’ document.”26 While acknowledging Richardson’s innovations such as the fusion of “the journalistic discourse” and “his own romantic and psychological content,” Davis seems to evaluate him as being closer to journalism for “denying his authorship” and presenting himself as “the editor of an essentially factual and true work,”27 namely, Pamela. His overall discussion remains centered on ­human facts and factuality in h­ uman fictions. On the other hand, even though Davis himself refers to the novel as “a new species of writing,” he rejects what he calls the “evolutionary model” as a methodology used by scholars to account for the origins of the novel.28 He even states that “it is not as if we can find the forerunners of the novel by tracing back from ­horse­like narrative to an eohippuslike narrative.”29 However, when Davis’s intention h­ ere is to argue for a flaw in the “biological notion of adaptation” as a meta­phor for literary analy­sis,30 his analogy also unconsciously attests to the significance of the ­horse in the narratives that represent the beginnings of this new genre. His very remark is an example of how, as Cary Wolfe reminds us, “ ‘the animal,’ when you think about it, is everywhere (including in the meta­phors, similes, proverbs, and narratives we have relied on for centuries—­millennia, even).”31 Davis’s reference to the evolution of the equids from the eohippus to the modern ­horse in this context is not surprising e­ ither. The ­horse is what comes to m ­ atter in this par­tic­u­lar context ­because of its place in primordial h­ uman imagination. ­Because, as Paul Shepard explains in The Other: How Animals Made Us H ­ uman, it was the animal that was “the most elusive and intelligent, the one deepest in ­human dreams and imagination, most challenging to our imagination, and therefore evoking the most eloquent responses” ever since the Pleistocene age.32 This is also to say that ­horses had already been performing a unique form of narrative ­labor for millennia when the Early Anthropocene Age arrived. The ­horse made the h­ uman. The ­horse wrote the ­human narratives even before its domestication. Jeremy James, ­Great Britain’s “poet of the s­ addle” and author of equestrian travel accounts, recently wrote in “Mystic Mantle of the Horse”33 that “the first images we have of the mounted ­horse­man are cut in rock in Gobustan, Azerbaijan, 12,000 years old. Similar ones of the same date have been found in the Tien Shan. The first cave paintings of them are dated at 25,000 years old in France.”34 James’s account further illustrates how the ­horse made the ­human: You can forget the wheel as man’s finest discovery. It pales into insignificance compared to when man first sat on a ­horse. Legs beat wheels. Wheels cannot go where legs nimbly pass. Wheels are lost in ­water: h­ orses swim. Not ­every gorge has a bridge. . . . ​If it ­were not for ­horses we would not have computers. We would never have even thought of flying to the stars. Horses completely re-­wired our thinking. Lightning reaction, speed and distance triggered man’s perception of the narrow world he had, ­until that moment, inhabited. Man was contained within the limits of his immediate environment, bound by shortness of his reach upon any diurnal basis. The ­horse set him f­ ree. Fired his mind.35


Sin a n A killi

The ­horse set Homo sapiens’s imagination ­free and fired it t­ oward shaping h­ umans’ lit­er­a­ture. One obvious and undisputed example of this is the medieval “chivalric” romance tradition that could not have existed or been named as such without le cheval. Likewise, as Davis suggests, it was through the story of “a man on a h­ orse,”36 in the mock chivalric romance Don Quixote, that the medieval narrative produced by the horse–­human relationship evolved into a dif­fer­ent genre, that is, into the novel. As one of the contributors to the collection of essays titled Eighteenth-­Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel Reconsidered, another contribution to the “rise of the novel” debate, Wolfram Schmidgen points out that the emergence and development of the novel provides “a unique opportunity” for literary history b­ ecause the early En­glish novel “allowed us to observe, seemingly for the first time in literary history, the formation of a genre in the broad light of historical day.”37 Schmidgen further argues that being born out of the “sprawling print culture of the seventeenth-­and eigh­teenth centuries,” the novel also gives us the chance to “catch literary form at the very moment it crystalized out of the liquid mass of concrete ­human practice.”38 What he means h­ ere is “lit­er­a­ture’s interaction with social, po­liti­cal, and intellectual history” of the Homo sapiens.39 Again, it seems that we cannot stop “peering at [our] own reflection in the pond.”40 Schmidgen eventually suggests a critical position that prioritizes poetry as the dominant genre in the eigh­teenth c­ entury, and asks: “Is ­there still more to be said about the novel?”41 His own answer is: “Perhaps we have done enough about the novel.”42 Schmidgen’s contention itself needs to be “reconsidered” against the discourses of posthumanism. Yes, ­there is still more to be said about the novel. One only has to acknowledge the roles of nonhuman animals and consider the functions of ­matter and semiosis in an age when improved printing technologies caused an explosion of signs in Britain. The roles of improved printing technologies and the consequent emergence of a strong print “culture” in the eigh­teenth c­ entury have inevitably been acknowledged in all accounts of this debate. A ­ fter all, in 1726, Defoe himself had announced that “the Printing Art has out-­run the pen, and may pass for the greatest Improvement of its kind in the world.”43 The recent material turn in the humanities, however, is now causing a change in the perception of printing as “art” and ­human “improvement.” For instance, Francis Robertson recently considered print materials as “marked surfaces . . . ​that underwrite a social agreement.”44 For him, “Print gained huge cultural significance as a meta­phor for industrial production,”45 which was “always tinctured with the ink, oil and metal of the presses and their machine actions.”46 Robertson’s work is not self-­reportedly informed by posthuman theories but his remark corresponds to the concept of “material-­discursivity” in Barad’s “agential realism.”47 In other words, this view illustrates a redefinition of print material such as a novel as the h­ uman animal’s discursive engagement, entanglement, and, in Barad’s terms, “intra-­action” with ­matter.48 A fuller understanding of the material-­discursivity of literary works produced by ­humans also necessitates a consideration of semiosis. In this context, I argue

The Rise of the Novel 101

that “the rise of the novel” was also a result of the intensively “semioactive”—as I would like to call this phenomenon—­environment of the Early Anthropocene Age when h­ uman semiosis reached unpre­ce­dented levels in Britain. In Anthropocene Reading, Derek Woods illustrates how “the planetary number of books grew by more than two ­orders of magnitude between the early Industrial Revolution and the pre­sent.”49 Woods further explains that “if we add other media to the equation, the curve would be steeper.”50 His remark is based on statistical figures and points to the Industrial Revolution as the time of a “semioactive” explosion. This “semioactivity” was enabled to a ­great extent by the increased availability and affordability of the materials necessary for printing. From within this “semioactive” environment, what I call the “semantic humanimal”—in this case the En­glish novelist of the Early Anthropocene Age—­was born. The term “humanimal” is coined by Pramod K. Nayar in a context where he summarizes the main tenets of posthumanism: “In lieu of traditional humanism’s species-­ identity, treated as self-­ contained and unique, critical posthumanism focuses on interspecies identity; instead of the former’s focus on the ­human, critical posthumanism sees the humanimal.”51 Nayar’s term very aptly reflects the posthumanist approach, b­ ecause this critical position “does not see the h­ uman as the centre of all ­things: it sees the h­ uman as an instantiation of a network of connections, exchanges, linkages and crossings with all forms of life” and ­because in this critical framework “the ­human itself is an assemblage, co-­evolving with other forms of life, enmeshed with the environment and technology.”52 In this context, the term “humanimal” has a meaning that renders obsolete the so-­called ontological distinction between ­humans and animals. When this term is read together with the main premises of the field of biosemiotics,53 a completely new perspective emerges. In her superb elaboration on “­human” biosemiosis and cultural evolution inspired by Raymond Williams’s ideas in The Long Revolution, Wendy Wheeler asks: “What is Homo sapiens, if not the creature that lives and creates in signs?”54 As she further explains, “the world we sense . . . ​is made by evolution in the conjunction of creature and environment. For ­humans, environment includes, of course, culture.”55 Therefore, ­human evolution is “a continually evolving story of the fundamental physical relatedness of space, m ­ atter and life.”56 This statement is clearly reminiscent of Barad’s idea of “intra-­action” and supports my claim that the En­glish novelist’s act of writing a novel by using the language system available to him/her was basically such a biosemiotic intra-­action with the environment, society, and culture of Britain of the Early Anthropocene, which, in turn, was imbued in the ­horse. As Wheeler further argues, h­ uman and natu­ral biology are “powerfully semiotic,” but they are “not constructed in discourse”; discourses are only “one aspect of semiotic communication” obscured by the “focus on abstract conceptual knowledge.”57 This position does not in any way ignore the significance and role of the discursive aspect of this communicative intra-­action; but it definitely places the emphasis on the semiotic, on what is “gesturally” articulated in speech and


Sin a n A killi

writing. Wheeler sees the semiotic practice of the h­ uman in need of a “ ‘rule-­ breaking’ evolutionary emergence of the newer grammars and newer languages in which we recognise ­human creativity,” which can actually be seen in the act of writing fiction, and offers “biosemiotics—­the study of signs and significance in all living t­ hings”58—as this new language. Wheeler justifies her position in the following: “It seems to me that a fully materialist account of ­human life and, importantly, ­human sociality w ­ ill remain seriously incomplete ­until we are able to offer a compelling evolutionary biological account of them which is non-­reductive, and has persuasive explanatory power with regard to ­human beings as language users, and beings who live in a complex world of signs.”59 The “sociality” referred to h­ ere includes all forms of cultural interaction as well as intra-­action with the environment and thus applies to the En­glish novelists of the Early Anthropocene, as they are h­ umans “who live in a biosphere which is also a highly articulated semiosphere” and “for whom environment is both natu­ral and cultural.”60 In fact, in Wheeler’s discussion the two are not all that separate and “fundamentally dif­fer­ ent.”61 Through her discussion, Wheeler “return[s] nature to ­human culture.”62 The reconciliation of nature and culture entails a reconceptualization of ­human lit­er­a­ture as a set of meaningful narratives produced by the biosemiotical performativity of writers, who are first and foremost biological organisms. In this mode of thinking, the writer should also be redefined as a “semantic humanimal,” that is, “an extraordinary h­ uman animal who, in her/his conscious or unconscious entanglement, intra-­acts with the world, in an unusually intense way, not only gesturally (i.e. by using her/his body parts like hands and fin­gers), but also agentically through a range of semiotic systems which she/he inscribes on ­matter (i.e. paper and ink).”63 All living organisms operate, to use Barad’s terms, in a state of “intra-­ action” and “material-­discursive” performativity by using their own semiotic systems. Therefore, when a ­human being sits down to write a poem or a novel to pre­sent a narrative, what he or she does is, in fact, the realization of this performativity by the use of the semiotic systems peculiar to the Homo sapiens such as language as it is traditionally, restrictively understood. Accordingly, the term “semantic humanimal,” which is one of the foundational concepts of the critical position offered in this chapter, also expresses a radical paradigmatic change as to what or who a writer is. This concept changes what it means to do intellectual work. Hence, the term is of essential importance for the following discussion of the horse–­human entanglements in the En­glish novel of the Early Anthropocene. The h­ orse was a very common and power­ful sign that the “semioactive” bodies of the period encountered on a daily basis. As a m ­ atter of fact, industrialization had prompted an increase in the uses of ­horses in cities.64 In urban centers where the local transport of goods and ­people was undertaken by horse-­drawn vehicles, Gina Doreé points out, h­ orses constituted a part of the urban working classes, “undernourished, overworked, and kept in dank, cramped, and squalid quarters.”65 In the rural countryside, h­ orses continued both to perform agricultural l­abor and to be necessary for short-­distance travel. Across En­glish society, then, h­ orses

The Rise of the Novel 103

maintained a significant presence despite the increased use of machines. This is very impor­tant considering that the Anthropocene was a period in which “the ‘­human’ semiosphere increase[d] in size [and] mixe[d] more thoroughly with the nonhuman systems outside of it, paradoxically including and excluding them as it comes into contact with them.”66 To translate Woods’s point into the pre­sent discussion, since the “semantic humanimals” of the Early Anthropocene Age not only came into contact but frequently intra-­acted with both the semiotic sign of the ­horse and the flesh-­and-­blood h­ orse, it could only be expected that they would respond to this sign by assigning a considerable amount of l­abor on the equine species in long prose narratives that depicted long sections of the lives of ­human characters who ­were in constant mobility. In due time, t­ hese narratives came to be known as “novels” as dif­fer­ent from “histories.” In fact, according to Davis, this “special dynamic between fact and fiction,” that is, a “profound and complex relationship between prose fiction and ‘lived’ experience,” was “the hallmark of the novel.”67 In other words, the “lived experience” of the horse–­human entanglement and intra-­action was definitive of this new literary genre. To illustrate this point with reference to Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, perhaps the way in which the ­human protagonist is first exposed is a good starting point. Fielding describes Joseph as a character with a peculiar relationship with animals. Being a ­human who seemed to have a special talent to communicate with animals, when appointed as a stable boy he would “constantly r[i]de the most spirited and vicious ­horses to ­water, with an intrepidity which surprised ­every one.”68 To clarify, then: his fa­cil­it­ y in relating to h­ orses crossed into his work role as stable boy, changing the tenor of that work. ­Later he proves to be an excellent jockey winning “several races for Sir Thomas, and this with such expertness and success.”69 So much so that when gamesters ­were placing their bets, “the bets ­were rather proportioned by the rider than by the ­horse himself ” if “­little Joey was to ­ride.”70 It is not surprising to see Fielding attributing such ­horse­manship qualities to Joseph in the novel. Clearly, he himself was very aware of the extraordinary place of ­horses in ­human society. However, the most revealing episode in Fielding’s novel in this regard is with the introduction of the “­ride and tie” method of traveling used by Joseph and Parson Adams. The narrator of Fielding’s novel explains how this “method of travelling much used by persons who have but one ­horse between them” is performed: The two travelers set out together, one on ­horse­back, the other on foot: now as it generally happens that he on ­horse­back outgoes him on foot, the custom is, that when he arrives at the distance agreed on, he is to dismount, tie the ­horse to some gate, tree, post, or other ­thing, and then proceed on foot; when the other comes up to the h­ orse, he unties him, mounts, and gallops on, till having passed by his fellow-­ traveller, he likewise arrives at the place of tying.71

Thus Joseph and Parson Adams set out for their travel. The main events and revelations that eventually turn out to be the driving forces of the plot of Joseph


Sin a n A killi

Andrews take place and are revealed to the reader during the intervals when the two characters are physically distant from one another: that is to say, they take turns “riding” and “tying” not only the ­horse but also the story. One may even argue that in giving such g­ reat “narrative agency” to the h­ orse,72 Fielding was also conflating the interval-­generating action of the “­ride and tie” with his own understanding of the physical organ­ization of the pages of a novel. Using the very same meta­phor of travel, in Joseph Andrews, Fielding’s narrator self-­consciously explains why the narration is or­ga­nized into chapters as follows: Common readers imagine, that by this art of dividing, we mean only to swell our works to a much larger bulk than they would other­wise be extended to. . . . ​But in real­ity, the case is other­wise, and in this, as well as all other instances, we consult the advantage of our reader, not our own; and indeed many notable uses arise from this method; for, first, ­those l­ ittle spaces between our chapters may be looked upon as an inn or resting-­place where he may stop and take a glass, or any other refreshment, as it pleases him. Nay, our fine readers w ­ ill, perhaps, be scarce able to travel farther than through one of them in a day. As to t­hose vacant pages which are placed between our books, they are to be regarded as ­those stages, where in long journeys, the traveler stays some time to repose himself.73

In other words, as a semantic humanimal writing at the dawn of the Anthropocene and as one of the two “founding f­ athers” (together with Samuel Richardson) of the En­glish novel proper, Fielding was replicating and even simulating a par­tic­ u­lar form of h­ uman–­animal relationship as he or­ga­nized not just his narrative, his own per­for­mance of semiosis, but also the ­matter, that is, the sheets of paper he was using for this per­for­mance. In other words, to create his narrative, he was intra-­ acting both with the fictive h­ orse and with the materials he was using to tell a story, the plot of which was governed by the traveling speed of that h­ orse. A ­horse, for Fielding, was “an engine of narrativity,”74 and the novel “enter[ed] new territory” on the back of this ­horse.75 As time galloped on, this new territory explored by “a man on a ­horse” was further expanded by a ­woman novelist.76 Jane Austen is known as an icon of En­glishness for representing the nineteenth-­ century landed gentry class to which she herself belonged. As Anne Frey propounds, it is exactly to this class that “Austen grants . . . ​the power to dictate the form of the nation.”77 Put differently, as a “semantic humanimal,” she used “the typically En­glish act”78 of novel writing to create “simulacra”79 (in the Baudrillardian sense) of En­glishness. In fact, she herself became one such simulacrum of middle-­class En­glishness in due course.80 Austen, in writing Northanger Abbey during 1798–1799, that is, within the historical and sociocultural context of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, epitomizes certain notions of En­glishness both as an identity demarcation and the land(scape) of E ­ ngland.81 This epitome emerges out of Austen’s conflation of her critique of con­temporary Gothic fiction writing with her “per­for­mance” (used in the sense that Gerald MacLean resituates Judith

The Rise of the Novel 105

Butler’s term into the context of national identity82) and simulation of middle-­ class En­glishness and “the central part of ­England.”83 Austen’s per­for­mance and simulation of En­glishness/En­gland are realized in two ways: first, through the characters of the novel and the codes of conduct, the social values, and the tropes that ­these characters stand or advocate for; and second, but more importantly, through her writing, in the semiotic system of the En­glish language, about “serious” and “mature” novel writing, both of which are incorporated in her fictive construction, in other words, her simulation of “the midland countries of E ­ ngland” as opposed to the nations “of the Alps and the Pyrenees.”84 Gillian Russel points out that “Jane Austen grew to maturity as a writer during . . . ​ the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars of 1793–1815.”85 In this context, Frey similarly argues, though with reference to Austen’s Persuasion, that she “portrays the British navy so admirably at a time when the navy’s victories against Napoleon ­were a source of nationalist pride. In praising the naval officers’ manliness, courage, and willingness to sacrifice, Austen certainly participates in this post-­Napoleonic fervor.”86 Austen was “­doing” En­glishness/En­gland at a time when, in Linda Colley’s words as they appear in her seminal study Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (2003), the idea of Britishness “was ­imagined, communicated, debated and memorialised in stone and in canvas, in maps, sketch-­books, and embroidery, as well as through the spoken, written and printed word.”87 ­Matter and semiosis w ­ ere essential to the forging of En­glishness and their new way of using the “printed word,” the novel. Such thinking and acting around En­glishness also facilitated the steady growth and export of industrial regimes of ­labor that had taken root in textile manufacture. But then again, this was also a time when neither En­glishness nor the En­glish novel could be ­imagined without the com­pany and ­labor of h­ orses. While depicting a patriotic “pride and prejudice” in her Gothic parody, Austen not only theorized about “proper” novel writing but also established the image of the En­glish gentleman traversing the countryside on the backs of fine ­horses ­after the land enclosures of the eigh­teenth c­ entury, with their implications for dislocating ­people who would become urban industrial workers. This image was juxtaposed in the novel to the p­ eople of countries such as France and Italy, which she thought ­were the only places fit for Gothic stories. Considering the fact that her two ­brothers ­were deployed as officers in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars,88 the patriotic undertones of this juxtaposition can be seen more clearly. In this regard, John Thorpe’s obsession with and boasting about his ­horse is significant. Thorpe is an En­glish gentleman who is proud of his h­ orse and to impress the protagonist Catherine he urges her to appreciate it: “Do but look at my h­ orse; did you ever see an animal so made for speed in your life? . . . ​Such true blood!”89 This conversation takes place in a context where Thorpe confidently mea­sures distances by the speed of his ­horse and protests when the calculation done by Catherine’s ­brother suggests his steed to be slower: “But look at his forehead; look at his loins; only see how he moves; that h­ orse cannot go less than ten miles an hour; tie his legs, and he ­will get on.”90


Sin a n A killi

­England’s countryside gentry understood fine h­ orse flesh and made it a symbol of “Thoroughbred En­glishness” in the eigh­teenth c­ entury. So much so that George Stubbs’s 1762 portrait of Whistlejacket, which is on display at the National Gallery in London, became “a national icon, perpetually among the top ten most popu­lar reproduced images at the National Gallery, emblematizing a ‘shared national culture.’ ”91 With reference to Whistlejacket’s iconic role, to Austen’s being a simulacrum of En­glishness/En­gland, and in the light of semantic associations enabled by the absorption of the nonhuman systems by the ­human semiosphere as suggested by Woods,92 it is even pos­si­ble to argue that Jane Austen was Whistlejacket; that the novelist who represents the maturation of the En­glish novel proper was a ­horse. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, on the other hand, provides examples of the narrative ­labor of a specific representative of the equine species in the En­glish novel of the period. Anyone who reads the novel with an attention to the ponies would be impressed by the amount of narrative l­abor Brontë trusted on them. One would not be surprised if the biographical information we have about Emily Brontë suggested that she had a special interest in h­ orses and h­ orse­back riding. However, Sarah Laycock, the curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, reported that the ­family did not own any h­ orses or ponies.93 But then again, Steven Wood, the local historian of Haworth Township kindly provided documentation for the ninety-­one h­ orses of vari­ous sizes that ­were recorded in the tax documents of 1831.94 Apparently, about a half of ­these ­horses (forty-­two in total) ­were ponies. ­These ­were of the breed known as the Galloway, a pony breed of Scotland and northern ­England that was “a strong multipurpose black or bay ­horse” with a significantly long mane.95 As documents from The Brontës and Animals exhibition held at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in 2015 also express, the Brontë s­ isters used animals in their novels as “a device to reveal personalities and for developing relationships between characters, as well as to drive the plot forward.”96 We do know that Emily’s favorite animal was a pet dog named Keeper. However, it is clear from the tax rec­ords that she saw the Galloways d­ oing l­abor on a daily basis and responded to them by attributing narrative ­labor and agency to the equids in the narrative progression of Wuthering Heights. In fact, the narrative of Brontë’s novel begins with a ­horse pushing open the gates of Wuthering Heights and the plot. In the opening scene of chapter  1, Mr. Lockwood, the novel’s first narrator and the tenant of Thrushcross Grange, reports about his first visit to his landlord, Heathcliff. As the novel opens, Heathcliff watches Lockwood approaching Wuthering Heights on h­ orse­back, but is unwilling to open the gates for the entry of his visitor. Lockwood introduces himself as his new tenant, but “ ‘Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,’ [Heatchcliff] interrupt[s], wincing. ‘I should not allow any one to incon­ve­nience me, if I could hinder it—­walk in!’ ”97 Lockwood also has a vivid memory of how “the ‘walk in’ was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, ‘Go to the Deuce’: even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathizing movement to the words.”98 Heathcliff is resolute about keeping this stranger away from his dwelling.

The Rise of the Novel 107

But then something that suddenly changes Heathcliff ’s attitude happens: “When he saw my ­horse’s breast fairly pushing the barrier, he did pull out his hand to unchain it, and then sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, as we entered the court,—­‘Joseph, take Mr Lockwood’s h­ orse; and bring up some wine.’ ”99 ­There is not any reflection by Lockwood that explains this sudden change. All we can claim is that Heathcliff understands and values a ­horse. A h­ orse is the main agent enabling the interaction between ­human characters. Lockwood’s ­horse is not described in detail, so one cannot tell if it is a pony or not. Nonetheless, in the rest of the narrative that is beyond the first gate pushed open by an equid, the Galloway pony is on the forefront of the equine world of the novel. When Catherine Earnshaw’s ­father is set for a journey to Liverpool, from where he brings Heathcliff to Wuthering Heights, ­little Miss Cathy asks her ­father to bring a whip for her. The novel’s narrator Nelly Dean explains why: “She was hardly six years old, but she could r­ ide any h­ orse in the stable.”100 Obviously, if a six-­year-­old girl can ­ride them, t­ hese h­ orses would be ponies; and archival documents support this assumption. Her talent in ­horse­back riding is among the first pieces of information about Catherine Earnshaw, and this is revealed during the narration of the precipitating incident of the novel’s plot, that is, Mr. Earnshaw’s journey to Liverpool. He brings home from Liverpool a dif­fer­ent kind of whip, a gypsy boy named Heathcliff whose entry into the scene spurs the narrative t­ oward its crises and climax. Further textual evidence is no less convincing. ­Daughter Cathy’s first arrival at Heathcliff ’s residence is on the back of Minny, expressly described as a Galloway.101 In fact, throughout the novel it is t­hese ponies that enable not only the movement of the ­human characters across the rough moorland between Wuthering Heights and the Thrushcross Grange but also the narrative progression of the plot. ­These ponies also influenced Emily’s imagination of Heathcliff. It is on the back of such “a handsome black pony” that Cathy’s m ­ other returns from the Lintons a­ fter her transformative stay with them.102 That return is to a Heathcliff who is soon afterward insulted by Edgar Linton who likens his lock to “a colt’s mane over his eyes!”103 H ­ ere Heathcliff ’s description is almost exactly that of a Galloway. When any screen adaptation of the novel is studied, this striking resemblance cannot be missed. Heathcliff soon dis­appears and returns to Wuthering Heights “dressed in dark clothes, with dark face and hair,” and as “an unreclaimed creature, without refinement.”104 In fact, as anyone familiar with the equine species can tell, a comparatively “unreclaimed” nature and mischievousness are qualities that distinguish ponies from h­ orses. In the novel, both Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff embody ­these qualities. In other words, the Galloway ponies Emily Brontë saw e­ very day performed narrative ­labor and had im­mense effect in this semantic humanimal’s imagination of her masterpiece. The En­glish novel r­ose and grew into maturity in the “semioactive” environment of the Early Anthropocene Age, which was also a period during which the use of h­ orses unexpectedly increased despite advanced mechanization. That is to


Sin a n A killi

say, a new way of shaping and narrating h­ uman stories was molded in the intensity of horse–­human entanglement. The semantic humanimals who w ­ ere born from out of this semioactive E ­ ngland had direct encounters with and observations of ­horses. Therefore, they had deep understanding of equine l­abor and invested significant “narrative agency” to h­ orses in their novels.105 ­These novels themselves ­were the products of ­matter and semiosis, wrought together by the bodily per­for­ mance of ­these semantic humanimals. As a m ­ atter of fact, in this historical period h­ orses ­were literally everywhere. Horses ­were ever pre­sent in the En­glish novel in its formative centuries: h­ orses carry­ing loads, carry­ing narratives, carry­ing ­people, h­ orses jumping fences and galloping for miles on end. In ­doing literary studies as a humanities discipline, we have so far always been concerned about the ­human. We have only looked at the ­human characters and the ­human society in literary works to understand what is exclusively “­human.” Just like Narcissus, we have been selfishly and arrogantly absorbed by our own image. We now have to learn how to look at works of lit­er­a­ture and the nonhuman animals in t­hese works through posthuman eyes. Reading literary works as a plane on which ­matter and semiosis on the one hand, and the ­human and the nonhuman on the other, are “confused and conflated” promises to be a critically productive approach for this end. More specifically, we now have to learn how to look at ­horses and acknowledge their l­abor in the “rise of the novel,” if not the equine “­labor” during the very birth of the novel from within the chivalric romance tradition. As the l­ imited number of texts engaged h­ ere illustrate, h­ orses ­were the second most power­ful narrative agents in the novels written in this par­tic­ul­ar period. The extraction of their narrative l­abor powerfully defined the new literary genre. We failed to see for a very long time, but ­horses w ­ ere always ­there, somewhere in between the inky lines grafted on paper by the h­ uman animal.

Notes An ­earlier version of this chapter was presented as a paper with the same title at the “­Labor, Leisure, and the Anthropocene” panel of the Twelfth Association for the Study of Lit­er­a­ture and Environment (ASLE) Biennial Conference, “Rust/Re­sis­tance: Works of Recovery,” Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, June 20–24, 2017. 1. ​Lennard J. Davis, Factual Fictions: The Origins of the En­glish Novel (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), 11. 2. ​The term “Early Anthropocene” as used ­here is essentially dif­fer­ent from its usage by the American geologist William F. Ruddiman, who dates the early anthropogenic intervention to the planetary systems to the beginnings of intensive agricultural activities in dif­fer­ent parts of the earth about 5,000–8,000 years ago. See Ruddiman, “The Anthropogenic Green­house Era Began Thousands of Years Ago,” Climatic Change 61 (2003): 261–293, https://­link​.­springer​.­com​ /­article​/­10​.1­ 023​/­B:CLIM​.­0000004577​.­17928​.­fa. 3. ​­Will Steffen et al., “The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369 (2011): 849, https://­royalsocietypublishing​.­org​/­doi​/­full​ /­10​.1­ 098/ rsta.2010.0327. 4. ​Michael McKeon, “Generic Transformation and Social Change: Rethinking the Rise of the Novel,” Cultural Critique 1 (1985): 181, https://­www​.­jstor​.­org​/­stable​/­1354286.

The Rise of the Novel 109

5. ​Alok Amatya and Ashley Dawson, “Lit­er­a­ture in an Age of Extraction: An Introduction,”

MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 66, no. 1 (2020): 8, https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1353/mfs.2020.0000. 6. ​For an extended discussion, see Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018). 7. ​Mario Ortiz-­Robles, Lit­er­a­ture and Animal Studies (New York: Routledge, 2016), 29. 8. ​Ortiz-­Robles, 1. 9. ​See Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007). 10. ​Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor, Introduction, Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times, ed. Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017), 10. 11. ​Menely and Oak Taylor, Introduction, 16. 12. ​Yuri M. Lotman, Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 123. 13. ​Lotman, 3. 14. ​Lotman, 124. 15. ​Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Anarky,” in Menely and Oak Taylor, Anthropocene Reading, 32. 16. ​Susan M. Rustick, “Held Hostage by the Anthropocene,” in Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene, ed. Morten Tønnessen, Kristin Armstrong Oma, and Silver Rattasepp (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), 3. 17. ​Rustick, 3. 18. ​Rustick, 3. 19. ​See Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer, “The Anthropocene,” Global Change Newsletter 41 (May  2000): 17–18, http://­www​.­igbp​.n­ et​/­download​/­18​.­316f18321323470177580001401​ /­1376383088452​/­NL41​.­pdf. 20. ​Morten Tønnessen and Kristin Armstrong Oma, “Introduction: Once upon a Time in the Anthropocene,” in Tønnessen, Armstrong Oma, and Rattasepp Thinking about Animals, ix. 21. ​Donna J. Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin,” Environmental Humanities 6 (2015): 159, quoted in Tønnessen and Armstrong Oma, “Introduction,” x. 22. ​Tønnessen and Armstrong Oma, “Introduction,” xv. 23. ​Davis, Factual Fictions, xiii–­x iv. 24. ​Davis, xii. 25. ​Davis, 2. 26. ​Davis, 211. 27. ​Davis, 192, 175. 28. ​Davis, 193, 194. 29. ​Davis, 193, 4. 30. ​Davis, 193, 4. 31. ​Cary Wolfe, “­Human, All Too ­Human: ‘Animal Studies’ and the Humanities,” PMLA 124, no. 2 (2009): 564. 32. ​Paul Shepard, The Other: How Animals Made Us ­Human (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1996), 250. 33. ​Jeremy James, “Atın Gizemli Mantosu,” Şarkî Edebiyat ve Sanat Dergisi 6–7 (2018): 216–231. James’s article “Mystic Mantle of the Horse” was first published in Turkish translation by Sinan Akıllı in the Animal Studies special issue of Şarkî Edebiyat ve Sanat Dergisi. The En­glish quotations used h­ ere are from James’s En­glish original but the page references are to the Turkish translation. 34. ​James, “Atın Gizemli Mantosu,” 219. 35. ​James, 218. 36. ​Davis, Factual Fictions, 11. 37. ​Wolfram Schmidgen, “Undividing the Subject of Literary History: From James Thomson’s Poetry to Daniel Defoe’s Novels,” in Eighteenth-­Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel


Sin a n A killi

Debate, ed. Kate Parker and Courtney Weiss Smith (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2014), 87. 38. ​Schmidgen, 87. 39. ​Schmidgen, 87. 40. ​Rustick, “Held Hostage,” 3. 41. ​Schmidgen, “Undividing the Subject,” 89. 42. ​Schmidgen, 89. 43. ​From Daniel Defoe’s “Essay upon Lit­er­a­ture” (1726), quoted in Paula McDowell, The Invention of the Oral: Print Commerce and Fugitive Voices in Eighteenth-­Century Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 97. 44. ​Francis Robertson, Print Culture: From Steam Press to Ebook (New York: Routledge, 2013), 1. 45. ​Robertson, 4. 46. ​Robertson, 5. 47. ​Karen Barad, “Posthumanist Performativity: T ­ oward an Understanding of How M ­ atter Comes to ­Matter,” Signs: Journal of W ­ omen in Culture and Society 28, no. 3 (2003): 810, https://­ www​.­journals​.u­ chicago​.­edu​/­doi​/­abs​/­10​.­1086​/­345321. 48. ​Barad, 815. Barad explains the term as follows: “The notion of intraaction (in contrast to the usual ‘interaction,’ which presumes the prior existence of in­de­pen­dent entities/relata) represents a profound conceptual shift. It is through specific agential intra-­actions that the bound­ aries and properties of the ‘components’ of phenomena become determinate and that par­tic­u­lar embodied concepts become meaningful.” 49. ​ Derek Woods, “Accelerated Reading: Fossil Fuels, Infowhelm, and Archival Life,” in Menely and Oak Taylor, Anthropocene Reading, 205. 50. ​Woods, 205. 51. ​Pramod K. Nayar, Posthumanism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014), 5. 52. ​Nayar, 5, 4. 53. ​For a detailed elaboration on t­ hese premises, see Marcello Barbieri, “What Is Biosemiotics?” Biosemiotics 1 (2008): 1–3, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1007/s12304-008-9009-1. A comprehensive account of the biosemiotics approach is found in Thomas A. Sebeok, “Biosemiotics: Its Roots, Proliferation, and Prospects,” Semiotica 134 (2001): 61–78, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1007/978-1-4020-9650-1_6. 54. ​Wendy Wheeler, The Whole Creature: Complexity, Biosemiotics and the Evolution of Culture (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2006), 22. 55. ​Wheeler, 15. 56. ​Wheeler, 28. 57. ​Wheeler, 17. 58. ​Wheeler, 19. 59. ​Wheeler, 22. 60. ​Wheeler, 109–110, 31. 61. ​Wheeler, 34. 62. ​Wheeler, 34. 63. ​My definition of the “semantic humanimal” appears in Sinan Akıllı, “The Agency and the ­Matter of the Dead Horse in the Victorian Novel,” in Equestrian Cultures: Horses, H ­ uman Society, and the Discourse of Modernity, ed. Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2019), 228n13. 64. ​Hannah Velten, Beastly London: A History of Animals in the City (London: Reaktion Books, 2013), 54–55. 65. ​Gina M. Doreé, Victorian Fiction and the Cult of the Horse (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 57. 66. ​Woods, “Accelerated Reading,” 210. 67. ​Davis, Factual Fictions, 19, 213, 19. 68. ​Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews (New York: Modern Library, 1950), 7. All citations refer to this edition.

The Rise of the Novel 111

69. ​Fielding, 7. 70. ​Fielding, 8. 71. ​Fielding, 95. 72. ​The term “narrative agency” is used h ­ ere as coined and concisely defined by Serpil Opper-

mann as “­matter’s expressive capacity.” See Serpil Oppermann, “Material Ecocriticism and the Creativity of Storied ­Matter,” Frame 26, no. 2 (November 2013): 55. 73. ​Fielding, Joseph Andrews, 90–91. 74. ​Cohen, “Anarky,” 32. 75. ​McKeon, “Generic Transformation,” 181. 76. ​Davis, Factual Fictions, 11. 77. ​Anne Frey, “A Nation without Nationalism: The Reor­ga­ni­za­tion of Feeling in Austen’s Persuasion,” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 38, no. 2/3 (2005): 230, https://­www​.­jstor​.­org​/­stable​/­40267625. 78. ​Queenie D. Leavis, “The En­glishness of the En­glish Novel,” Higher Education Quarterly 35, no. 2 (1981): 149, https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1111/j.1468-2273.1981.tb01290.x. 79. ​Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994). 80. ​As Mary Sponberg reports, during World War I, “reading Austen was recommended as nerve therapy for severely shell-­shocked soldiers seeking solace in the ­little piece of ­England her novels provided.” See, Mary Spongberg, “Jane Austen, the 1790s, and the French Revolution,” in A Companion to Jane Austen, ed. Claudia L. Johnson and Clara Tuite (Oxford: Wiley-­Blackwell, 2009), 276. 81. ​My arguments about Austen’s repre­sen­ta­tion of En­glishness in association with novel writing and Thoroughbred ­horses first appeared in Sinan Akıllı, “ ‘Dearest Miss [ Jane Austen], What Ideas Have You Been Admitting?’: Pride and Prejudice in Northanger Abbey,” paper presented at the conference “Haunted Eu­rope: Continental Connections in English-­Language Gothic Writing, Film and New Media,” Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS), Leiden University, June 9–10, 2016. 82. ​MacLean argues that “national identity, like gender, may be considered a ‘performative twist of language’ in Butler’s phrase—­one that achieves the appearance of an identity, in this case a national one, when called on to do so.” See Gerald MacLean, Looking East: En­glish Writing and the Ottoman Empire before 1800 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 97. 83. ​Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (London: Penguin Books, 1994), 184. All citations refer to this edition. 84. ​Austen, 184. 85. ​Gillian Russell, “The Army, the Navy, and the Napoleonic Wars,” in Johnson and Tuite, Companion to Jane Austen, 261. 86. ​Anne Frey, “Nation without Nationalism,” 214. 87. ​Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (London: Pimlico, 2003), xii. 88. ​William Baker, Critical Companion to Jane Austen: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work (New York: Facts on File, 2008), 13. 89. ​Austen, Northanger Abbey, 33. 90. ​Austen, 33. 91. ​Donna Landry, Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed En­glish Culture (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 149. 92. ​Woods, “Accelerated Reading,” 210. 93. ​Sarah Laycock, Email message to the author, April 13, 2017. 94. ​Steven Wood, Email message to the author, April 13, 2017. 95. ​Steven Wood, Email message to the author, April 13, 2017. 96. ​The exhibition banner titled “The Brontës and Animals,” quoted in Laycock, Email message to the author, April 13, 2017. 97. ​Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (Hertfordshire: Words­worth Classics, 1992), 1. All citations refer to this edition.


Sin a n A killi

98. ​Brontë, 1. 99. ​Brontë, 1. 100. ​Brontë, 25. 101. ​Brontë, 139. 102. ​Brontë, 36. 103. ​Brontë, 41. 104. ​Brontë, 66–67, 74. 105. ​Oppermann, “Material Ecocriticism,” 55.

5 ▶ RECONSTRUCTION AGR ARIANISM IN DOUGL ASS AND BURROUGHS Relational ­Labor against White Supremacist Owner­ship DAN I EL CL AUSEN


n mid-­S eptember of 1873, Frederick Douglass headlined an agricultural fair in Nashville, Tennessee. In itself, Frederick Douglass giving such a speech is hardly remarkable. Between his rise to fame in the 1840s and his death in 1895, Douglass gave thousands of speeches around the world. Americans may have heard him speak more than any other individual in the nineteenth c­ entury.1 Aside from the fact that the text of this 1873 speech happened to survive, it does not occupy an obvious position of prominence in Douglass’s ­career or thinking. Still, the audience, location, and moment set this speech apart. Tennessee in 1873 was in the midst of Reconstruction—­the radical break and reor­ga­ni­za­tion of American society and l­abor that followed Confederate military defeat in 1865. Several years 113


Da niel C l ausen

l­ater, as Reconstruction collapsed, John Burroughs published an essay that touched on themes similar to t­ hose raised by Douglass in Nashville. From the global geologic perspective suggested by “the Anthropocene,” such minor literary moments may not be clearly legible. But dif­fer­ent economic systems and the stories we tell about them have dif­fer­ent effects on the landscape. As Tom Lynch has stated, in the Anthropocene “what’s impor­tant about the gunfight at the OK corral is not the macho dispute between the Earps and the Glantons [sic], not, that is, the gunfight, but, rather, the seemingly incidental feature, the corral.”2 Such a shift in perspective illuminates how Douglass’s speech and Burroughs’s essay demonstrate a shift in the cultural narrative of l­ abor. As agricultural l­ abor’s meaning, c­ auses, and results ­were being re­imagined, Douglass and Burroughs ­were contesting white supremacist control of agrarian narratives. The 1870s ­were a moment ripe with possibility—­including the possibility for dif­fer­ent working relationships to nature. Douglass’s speech, which from an early twenty-­first-­century perspective reads at times as a tone-­deaf “bootstrap sermon,” tries to hold together social realities within the American dream of laissez-­faire economics. Roughly contemporaneously, the autobiographical essay by John Burroughs exposes similar ambiguities of l­ abor and nature. I argue that taken together, ­these two thinkers’ agrarian narratives indicate shifts in the meaning assigned to ­labor in the post–­Civil War United States, especially in its relationship to race. By demo­cratizing ­labor’s connection to virtue t­ hese texts in turn altered the concept of property, most pointedly vis­i­ble as white supremacist slavery, away from a bundle of rights and ­toward a network of responsibilities. In Kathryn Yusoff ’s terminology, and the terms of this volume, this is a shift away from a logic of extractivism to one of relationality.3 Such a reconception requires new terms of relationship between ­labor and nature. In their relational texts, Douglass and Burroughs point to the inadequacy of fash­ion­able dismissals of agriculture such as seen in Timothy Morton’s term “agrilogistics.”4 Such over-­hasty dismissals of the ­labor of farming are apt to ring hollow to ­those who have been excluded, through the extractive construction of race, from a chance to benefit from prevailing forms of ­labor and property. In this chapter, I argue that the georgic, relational stories deployed by Douglass and Burroughs point ­toward fresh possibilities for twenty-­first-­century agrarianism. By foregrounding the complexities of both lived h­ uman experience and the relational vitality of the ecological world under­lying it, ­these two representative writers imagine anti-­extractive regimes of l­abor and nature useful for a haltingly self-­aware Anthropocene. By first highlighting the relational nature of ­labor, and then deracializing agrarian valorization of work, Douglass and Burroughs suggest a logic of l­abor that is nonproprietary and antiracist. With seemingly innocuous farm stories, Douglass and Burroughs suggest a radical re­sis­tance to owner­ship as license to extract. The connections between the environmental impacts of l­abor and race have often come together for ecocritics ­under the rubric of environmental justice. As Paul Outka has convincingly argued, critical race studies has been largely anthropocentric

Reconstruction Agrarianism 115

as a result of “the terrible historical legacy of making p­ eople of color signify the natu­ral, as a prelude to exploiting both.”5 This per­sis­tent conflation has meant that “whites viewed black ­people as part of the natu­ral world, and then proceeded to treat them with the same mixture of contempt, false reverence, and real exploitation that also marks American environmental history.”6 In Yusoff ’s terms, ones key to this volume, this is a logic of extraction foisted upon the nonhuman and the ostensibly “inhuman”: “The collective functioning of geologic languages coded—­ inhuman, property, value, possession—as categories moves across territory, relation, and flesh.”7 Rather than advancing an argument that seeks to remove the stigma of nature from Black ­people, my reading of Burroughs and Douglass centers an American narrative that positioned Blacks and Whites as both equally embedded in the environing natu­ral world and that asked both to recognize their own relationship to that world as well as to nonhuman animals—­a relationship that was ­shaped and brought to light by the everyday practice of ­labor. In this way, I find patterns that are also brought to the surface in the essays section 3 of this volume. Douglass’s speech was addressed to the Tennessee Colored Agricultural and Mechanics Association—­a group of African Americans who had or­ga­nized for the mutual support, advancement, and education of freed ­people and other Blacks.8 They ­were a part of a tradition stretching back several generations: agricultural fairs, where farmers gathered to market and show off their produce as well as exchange information and socialize, had been a part of the experience of American farmers since the 1810s.9 Such fairs in fact have much in common with the 1964–1965 World’s Fair discussed by James Armstrong (chapter 6 in this volume), in that they w ­ ere sites that evince the logic animating regimes of work in a setting that mixes ­labor and leisure together. That the Black “farmers and mechanics” of Tennessee had such a fair and the organ­ization itself indicates that they subscribed to some version of the nineteenth ­century’s agrarian ­free l­ abor ideology. ­Free ­labor ideology held that one essential distinction between f­ ree ­labor and (Black) slave ­labor was class mobility—­that no one ­under a ­free ­labor system was condemned to l­abor for another in­def­initely, but would move almost inevitably upward from the status of wage laborer to in­de­pen­dent proprietor or landowning farmer. This meritocratic vision may have its shortcomings, but it provided a solid ideological ground from which antislavery could launch its critiques. Despite the “inexorable transform[ation of] the society of small producers from which that ideology had sprung,” such ideas hung on long a­ fter the war was over.10 In part, this was b­ ecause it was an outgrowth of e­ arlier agrarian ideologies that stretched back to antiquity and the Georgics of Virgil. Through its expression in texts such as J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer, and Thomas Jefferson’s famous Notes on the State of V ­ irginia, this classical agrarianism had formed a cornerstone of American identity.11 As I w ­ ill show, Frederick Douglass’s Nashville speech represents one instance of a negotiation between the economic and ecological situation of Black Southerners


Da niel C l ausen

and this American narrative of agrarian “self-­reliance.” In many ways it falls surprisingly short; and indeed Douglass’s thinking generally can be read as having overlooked, as did Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, the many external ­factors and helping hands (often ­women’s hands) that contributed to his success.12 Still, a short recognition of interspecies ­labor and the limitations on owner­ship implied by such a recognition point to alternative potential directions for ­free ­labor agrarian ideology. As explored below, Douglass’s refashioning of agricultural tropes and expansion of categories—­especially the issues of owner­ship and ­labor exposed in his comments on domestic animals—­are an indication that agrarian narratives can adapt to suit the novel situation. In 1877 John Burroughs published a nostalgic essay including a portion now known as “A Cow in the Capital.” In it, he also reimagines the working relationship between ­humans and nonhumans and explores the responsibilities a h­ uman “owner” might have t­ oward domestic animals. By describing his eventual betrayal of the cow, Burroughs symbolically grapples with his own implication in the vio­ lence of chattel slavery and at the same time opens the possibility that the domestication of animals is itself a sort of slavery. ­These texts suggest that dismissals of agriculture and agrarian thinking only go so far. Despite obvious culpability in the crises of the Anthropocene, agrarianism also offers alternative stories of survival, alternatives also taken up by Matt Wanat (chapter 7 in this volume). By offering a vision of l­abor that contests the Lockean conception of property, and thereby extraction, both of t­hese Reconstruction agrarian narratives give us stories that offer a practical, hands-on approach to living in and with agriculture in ways that recognize its inherent ecological vio­lence while nonetheless insisting on a relational ethic of gratitude and self-­imposed limitation—an ethic fundamental to sustainable Anthropocene living.

Burroughs: ­L abor as Responsibility The first of ­these two relational narratives of American work and the nonhuman can be found in John Burroughs’s writing in the 1870s. The United States was trying to knit itself back together a­ fter the Civil War, and Burroughs was one of the nation’s most popu­lar writers. James Warren writes that Burroughs was “the most famous and widely published nature writer in Amer­ic­ a.”13 A friend and protégée of Walt Whitman, Burroughs’s literary persona was, like Whitman’s, genial, bearded, and generous. Burroughs also admired Thoreau and like him had a deep love of the natu­ral world. In Burroughs’s first books, his writing often focused on the embodied pleasures of engaging with nature. And in keeping with a long tradition of georgic writing, he wrote about work as an activity that, properly understood and undertaken, has a deep intrinsic value of its own, distinct from its product or imbrication in a larger economic system. One illustrative example comes from the 1877 essay excerpted in one collection as “A Cow in the Capital.” Burroughs begins the section by contrasting his rented

Reconstruction Agrarianism 117

h­ ouse, an “old place with an acre of ground attached . . . ​[a] miniature farm” in Washington, DC, with the “marble-­and-­iron palaces” and “mahogany desk of a government clerk.”14 The desk is where he lives his “artificial life” where he “was not happy.”15 Instead, he is happy at home, where he says he “took an earth bath twice a day. I planted myself as deep in the soil as I could, to restore the normal tone and freshness of my system, impaired by the above mentioned government mahogany.”16 This is the classical georgic distinction between work done in a city for an abstract, alienated, and po­liti­cal end (in this case a government bureaucracy) and familial and communal work in “the country” (even an isolated pocket of it) that enjoys an immediate, bodily intimacy with its object. Work of this more immediate type is valuable precisely ­because it founds a certain relationship-­based knowing that Burroughs sees as crucial for ­human flourishing—­the “earth bath” that has such salutary effects on his body and mind while mimicking the growing, botanical world. To Burroughs, as Thoreau before him, it is not the logic of work itself that is damaging or dangerous, but rather the qualities of the system in which the work is being undertaken that determines the work’s effect on the worker. Like Burroughs, Thoreau in Walden draws a strong distinction between work done for misguided ends and work that draws him closer to nature. Famously, the goal and outcome of Thoreau’s farming efforts w ­ ere at odds with pure market motives: “I came to love my rows, my beans, though so many more than I wanted. They attached me to the earth, and so I got strength like Antaeus.”17 Work, for t­hese two men, is not inherently alienating or destructive. Instead, as an activity, work can lead to new dimensions of awareness and affection that run along the lines of the bodily senses, attaching the ­human to the humus. For Burroughs and Thoreau, working Earth is one way to know it and love it more deeply. Such a rethinking of work—as an end itself as Ryan Hediger also suggests in the introduction to this volume, rather than primarily an economic activity—­may be in line with recent writing about work that suggests a reduced workweek, or even that Karl Marx’s famous ideal of communist society would make “it pos­si­ble for me to do one ­thing ­today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the after­noon, rear ­cattle in the eve­ning, criticise a­ fter dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”18 Burroughs further shifts his conception of work by subtly decentering his own (White, male) h­ uman position. In “A Cow in the Capital” the earthly intimacy of the earth bath is further heightened by the presence of Chloe, Burroughs’s milk cow. Burroughs describes her in ways that recognize the character of Chloe as an individual, yet he is nonetheless careful not to carry her too far into the category of h­ uman or to anthropomorphize her. She remains a cow, though perhaps a cow that has more claims on personhood than commonly afforded to nonhuman species. Burroughs writes about how his cow (and ­others) enjoyed remarkable freedom: “Your cow went forth in the morning, and came home fraught with milk at night, and you never troubled yourself where she went or how far she roamed.”19


Da niel C l ausen

Burroughs pre­sents a mutualism in this relationship, an understanding between himself and Chloe in which t­here is a cross-­species bond of affection with real effects: she comes home.20 Yet this bucolic harmony is short lived—­Burroughs’s relationship with the cow ends in vio­lence, as an “evil moment” arrives when Burroughs “resolved to part with her and try another.”21 He takes her to the market “exposing her for sale.” The echoes of the relationships and set pieces of slave narratives are impossible to ignore. Indeed, with the guilty conscience of a latter day abolitionist, Burroughs tells us that “the goddess never forgave me for the execution of that rash and cruel resolve.” Fi­nally selling Chloe to a butcher, he notes that her “last look of alarm and incredulity . . . ​went to my heart!”22 This climax of Burroughs’s story is his own culpability in betraying a fellow creature from his position of material power. Yet he pre­sents the moment as a violent abuse of his social and even artificial position as owner of the cow. It is his failure to live up to the ethical requirements ­toward his cow, requirements built into his georgic understanding of intimate work, that heightens the reader’s perception of ­those ethics. He had given his cow freedom, enjoyed a mutually affectionate relationship with her, and nonetheless reduced her to a fungible commodity—­a slave from which he extracted maximum value not in her ongoing motherly contributions to their mutual flourishing (her milk) but in extracting her very flesh for consumption, sold to a butcher. The falsity and inadequacy of such a reduction is exposed in the sympathy and guilt he feels in her knowing glance. While the market does perform its function, and the cow is reduced to meat and money, this transformation does not fully conquer the author’s feelings of responsibility. The ­actual vio­lence of butchery takes place off the page, but Burroughs recognizes his complicity in this violent system and its degradation of relationality. He first pushes for understanding agricultural work as potentially healing—­the “earth bath” can be good in itself. But then he exposes the danger of the ­human position—­the potential abuses of power. He failed Chloe by distancing himself from the vio­lence of his actions—by selling her to another party, a distance that enabled vio­lence. The story as he writes it is retrospective self-­judgment, an example to be learned from rather than repeated. Furthermore, embedded as it is in his grousing about “government mahogany,” this lesson about the ease of abusing power extends to other systems. The betrayal of this cow by a government bureaucrat whose virtue is not fully “refreshed” by his earth baths can even be read to mirror the historical betrayal of the promises of Reconstruction and the Freedmen’s Bureau by a government espousing agrarian ­free l­ abor ideologies and giving away land to predominantly White settlers through the Homestead Act. For Burroughs part of his prob­lem lies in how he can productively remember and create meaning from the vio­lence in the past. For White Americans like Burroughs in 1877, the year commonly marked as the end of Reconstruction, finding ways to heal from the vio­lence of the Civil War was a crucial literary proj­ect. Famously, much of Walt Whitman’s Drum-­Taps and Memoranda during the War

Reconstruction Agrarianism 119

are devoted to images of wounds, convalescence, and the shared suffering of (White) Northerners and Southerners. Adapting this framework of healing wounds to Burroughs’s essay, we see that he foregrounds his own complicity in the vio­lence of agriculture and hints at its parallels to the vio­lence and injustice of slavery. Burroughs does not seem to find a more permanent source of healing than this confession of guilt, instead articulating disillusionment with Reconstruction’s failures and unintended outcomes. Burroughs’s fundamental insight is that work has the potential to create intimate and sympathetic relationships—­with soil, plants, animals, and other p­ eople. When properly entered into, t­ hese intimate working relationships foster a sense of responsibility t­ oward the world. Crucially, however, this claim echoes certain antebellum proslavery writings—­any endorsement of such sympathetic control might be cause for alarm. Lydia Fisher has pointed out that “the broad embrace of domestic ideology . . . ​helped slave holders conceive of their profitable cultivation of slaves as fulfillment of the duties of the benevolent patriarch.”23 This ideology functioned as a “disciplinary intimacy . . . ​a sentimentalization of the disciplinary relation: a strategic relocation of authority relations in the realm of emotion, and a conscious intensification of the emotional bond between the authority figure and its charge.”24 Is Burroughs’s georgic ethic—of vio­lence held in check by responsibility born of sentiment and affection, in turn born of a working relationship—­intrinsically infected with this “disciplinary intimacy” and the taint of slavery? One school of thought would indeed suggest that all domestication of animals partakes of the same disciplinary relationship as slavery. Is it then merely wishful thinking to see narratives of an ethical working relationship with nature as a step ­toward both environmental and social justice? On the contrary, Burroughs’s vision of health and work is not reducible merely to a false nostalgia of unchallenged racial (and species) dominance—as is the case in more strident antebellum pastoralism à la Gone with the Wind. Instead I read it as holding the seeds of a more bodily, creaturely, and biophilic view of work for us ­today—as evidenced by the appeal of “back-­to-­the-­land” movements across racial and class identities.25 A full consideration of charges of racially tinged nostalgia cannot be satisfactorily developed out of the text of Burroughs’s essay, but by turning to Frederick Douglass we see Whiteness’s claim of exclusive owner­ship of a georgic ­labor ethic robustly challenged. Douglass, like other Black Americans so long systematically excluded from the central position in agrarian narratives of ­labor and property, made use of georgic narratives in his own appeals for a harmonious good life. The fact that race as a category operates as inherently disciplinary does not mean that a responsible transracial ethic born of agricultural work is impossible, only that racial thinking can insidiously turn an agrarian discourse of responsibility to culturally damaging purposes. In Frederick Douglass’s Nashville speech we find a georgic logic of agricultural ­labor turned against the disciplinary white supremacist racial apparatus of Reconstruction, while at the same time destabilizing the extractive (even geological) categories of species and property.


Da niel C l ausen

Frederick Douglass’s Agrarian Paradoxes A sizable number of Black Americans in the 1870s saw agrarian narratives as holding the potential for radical social and environmental change, understanding that such stories could ground a “logic of coexistence,” in Morton’s phrase, by advocating both self-­determination and scientifically guided ecological practice.26 By following the movements of the speech, we can see how Douglass uses the classical agrarian tropes—­and even a dissenting antebellum nostalgia—to empower his audience of Black farmers and encourage environmental justice. Douglass opens his speech with appeals to his audience that seek to establish the dignity and worth of Black farmers. With typical faux modesty, he begins to reclaim the history of agriculture u­ nder the guise of having nothing new to say about it, yet tying agriculture explic­itly to civilization and literacy: “The discovery of the fundamental princi­ples of agriculture reach far beyond the limits of au­then­tic history, for men tilled the soil long before they wrote books, and would not have written books if they had not tilled the soil.”27 He quotes the prominent transcendentalist preacher and abolitionist Theodore Parker to foreground a connection between democracy and truth, then turns to the more practical goals of his speech: to highlight the “importance of agricultural and mechanical industry and of united effort on the part of our p­ eople to improve their physical, moral, and social condition.”28 He praises his audience for having “dared” to or­ga­nize their association, to hold a fair, and to promote their own interests. This is “an act, on your part as brave as it is wise” (certainly the case in an era in which the fragile protections of the Freedmen’s Bureau and federal troops ­were crumbling. This preamble directly ­counters the effacement of Black l­abor in most White American national narratives, and instead makes Black in­de­pen­dent farmers full citizens of an agrarian republic. This rewriting of agrarianism is indeed the soul of Douglass’s argument. He is working to wrest the agrarian narrative from white supremacist control. And to do so Douglass next runs through the “discovery and invention of the first half of this nineteenth ­century” to show what it can offer to Black laborers who had been the “engines” of American success.29 Having noted that while princi­ples of agriculture have not changed, improvements in implements have allowed the “toil and drudgery of ancient farming to be banished from the field.”30 According to Douglass, such improvements, along with the knowledge gained through science, have assured agricultural exertion ­will meet with material reward, and such physical improvements are implied to undergird the improvement of social and moral condition. This contests racist claims that Black ­labor is inherently drudgery—­instead connecting Black ­labor to the ­free ­labor discourse of virtue rewarded. He then draws parallels to ancient (Black) farming: the plow’s improvements are developments that began in Africa. Such belonging is further driven home as Douglass explic­itly contests the whitewashing of agricultural history: “It is pleasant to know we are related, in color, form, and features, to the first successful tillers of the soil; to the ­people who taught the world agriculture; that the civilization that made Greece,

Reconstruction Agrarianism 121

Rome, and Western Eu­rope illustrious, and even now makes our own land glorious, sprung forth from the bosom of Africa. For while this continent was yet undiscovered by civilized men; while the Briton and Gallic races wandered like beasts of prey in the forests, the p­ eople of Egypt and Ethiopia rejoiced in well cultivated fields and abundance of corn.”31 Having contested the white-­supremacist claims of owner­ship to agriculture he moves on to list in passing the wide range of georgic arguments in ­favor of agriculture and country life—­from how a “busy, courageous, hopeful and joyous world [would] sink back into the depths and darkness of barbarism” to the “scene of peace and sweet content” in the Washington as Cincinnatus story of a ­great leader who retires to a quiet country life rather than seizing permanent power, to the romantic “soothing charms of nature” that encourage workers living life in the fields and countryside.32 Having established that Black farmers have an equally valid claim to agrarian virtue, Douglass moves to outline the practical implications of that fact. Though his audience of Black Americans had achieved a fragile po­liti­cal freedom, they had not achieved social equality: “They have secured their freedom, it is true, but not the friendship and ­favor of the ­people around them. The sentiment that greeted them all over the South, when their fetters w ­ ere broken, was: Let the Negro starve!”33 This contributes, Douglass notes, “a thousand ways to our hurt.” Black Americans are discriminated against when looking for work, defrauded of their wages when they find work, excluded from ­unions, and generally shut out from “respectable employment.”34 B ­ ecause of this, they should turn to agriculture. “I hail agriculture as a refuge for the oppressed, the g­ rand old earth has no prejudices against race, color, or previous condition of servitude, but flings open her ample breast to all who w ­ ill come to her for succor and relief.” This rhetorical flourish operates two ways—­first, it draws upon the long tradition gendering the earth, but does so by placing the earth in the position of ­mother rather than virgin. This makes “her” a provider to be turned ­toward for aid rather than an entity to be conquered, ravished, or controlled. And second, it highlights the constructed nature of the ­whole category of “race”; it is not found in the earth, that is to say, nature. Douglass’s next turn is at once both the most predictable and in some ways the most surprising. He turns to the beneficial po­liti­cal effects of owner­ship. This is a perfectly normal assertion in agrarian po­liti­cal discourse, but surprising for someone who spent the first de­cades of his life as the ­legal property of another man. Douglass does not, of course, endorse the owner­ship of ­humans as slaves. But he does repurpose some of the same arguments that w ­ ere used by paternalistic proslavery advocates. ­Those proslavery writers argued that enslaved p­ eople needed the benevolent owner­ship of a master. Writers such as George Fitzhugh claimed that the masters would treat the slaves humanely out of their own self-­interest, since it makes ­little economic sense to destroy one’s own property.35 Such paternalistic justifications w ­ ere indeed a twisted version of a guiding princi­ple of agrarian po­liti­cal thinking. The general agrarian argument asserts that the more widespread the owner­ship of the countryside, the more harmonious the interests of the citizens


Da niel C l ausen

­ ill be—­exactly ­because of the self-­interest inherent to owner­ship. ­Every f­amily w farmer ­will have a stake in the common good. For some critics of agrarianism, this connection between slavery and real estate ­under the common category of property merely exposes the bankruptcy of agrarian idealism.36 Slavery is merely the logical extension of cap­it­ al­ist, market-­driven, and property-­based relationships at their most extreme. Why should owning land have any more tendency to instill an ethic of responsibility than did the owning of slaves? Th ­ ese are questions that Douglass does not answer outright. This speech is directed at a practical audience and has a practical purpose—he does not explic­itly lay out a theoretical system. The speech does seek to harmonize ­these seemingly contradictory impulses of lauding owner­ship while denigrating slavery in another way—by altering definitions of property. In Douglass’s version of the agrarian po­liti­cal argument, owner­ship of land as private property is a prerequisite for social equality since it is the original means of production. Yet Douglass first draws attention to the antebellum discrepancy between small slave holders and wealthy ones: “The natu­ral tendency of wealth was to deepen the chasm between the master and the slave, and to break up all sympathy between them.”37 Douglass’s biographies and abolitionist ­free l­abor orthodoxy agreed in describing the primary motivation of slaves as avoiding punishment. This system thus failed to incentivize any consideration of natu­ral limitations by slave or master and thus, “the very soil of your state was cursed with a burning sense of injustice.”38 ­Under the system of f­ ree ­labor, on the other hand, Douglass describes a changed prospect: “The State of Tennessee is now to be cultivated by liberty; by the knowledge that comes of liberty; by the respectability of l­abor; by the motive of general welfare, and by the sense of patriotism confined to no par­tic­u­lar class, and I predict for her a vast and general increase in happiness and prosperity in the new era which has dawned on her.”39 Now, ­because the formerly enslaved workers own their ­labor, they ­will exhibit care for the farms they work and also own. The rest of his speech takes a new form. Rather than the historical overview of agriculture as a ­whole he moves into something more akin to the eclectic almanacs and agricultural papers of his day. Subdivided by headings, the speech progresses through practical agricultural advice and the predicted results of following it. In a passage especially relevant to this essay, Douglass makes an in­ter­est­ing move that trou­bles the categories enabling “extractivism” when he exhorts his auditors on the “Treatment of Animals.” Noting that slavery tended to cause the brutalization of h­ orses, oxen, and mules as well as h­ umans, he reminds his listeners—­many of whom ­were themselves once treated as chattel—­that “a ­horse is in many re­spects like a man,” and a “creature of law.” Horses are “companions . . . ​com­pany as well as helpers in his toil.”40 From the perspective of animal studies, this may seem to indicate that he displaces the old paternalism of slavery with a fresh paternalism t­ oward domestic animals, simply repeating the same passing on of vio­lence that he calls out. But another reading is pos­si­ble. Instead of functioning as a displacement, Douglass’s positioning of animals as possessors of rights—­and the regenerative agriculture of

Reconstruction Agrarianism 123

care this implies—­may be read as a reversal of the logic of slavery, capitalism, and Morton’s Anthropocene-­causing “agrilogistics.” By returning to a georgic logic that saw landscape, l­abor, and politics as intertwined, Douglass intensifies the claims of abolitionism. He enacts the same conceptual radicalism for agrarianism that he did for the promises of liberty in American po­liti­cal rhe­toric. If agrarianism means a re­spect for ­labor, then that ­labor should not be ­limited only to h­ umans. An agrarian ­free ­labor, rightly expanded, might encompass the l­abor rights of “the very soil.”

Owner­ship, L­ abor, and Limits To see clearly how this inversion through intensification might operate, it is impor­ tant to recognize the ways in which the historical narrative interacts with the practical farming advice. By refounding the heritage of agriculture, Douglass includes Black Americans in the moral suasion of agrarian ideals. Self-­determination, practical virtue, and healthy contact with nature are not the exclusive province of White Americans. Douglass asserts that ­those with African heritage also may find a sense of po­liti­cal belonging through l­ abor on the earth. In the Lockean philosophy that underpinned ­free l­ abor ideology—as well as the settler colonial system—­property rights are the derivative result of agricultural ­labor. A person (a man) gains the right to own the earth through the productive use of it.41 This con­ve­niently allowed En­glish settlers to claim l­egal owner­ship over lands being “wasted” by the native p­ eoples whose agricultural practices w ­ ere not “agrilogistic.” But despite Douglass’s classical liberalistic understanding of ­free ­labor, his insistence that domestic animals are “creatures of law” as well as “com­pany” indicates limits on owner­ship. If a Lockean owner has an almost despotic power over animals, Douglass reminds his ­free audience of the need to disconnect owner­ship from vio­lence. In a post-­abolition setting, freed p­ eople needed a conceptual pathway to both citizenship and livelihood, and the ­free ­labor ideology that had grounded abolition was ready to hand to be shorn of its racial categories. Thus, by at once limiting the “rights” of owner­ship and shrinking the scope of what may be owned, emancipation created a dilemma within agrarianism. As Douglass’s comments on animals suggest, the limitations placed on owner­ship subtly undermine the Lockean idea that ­labor bestows rights of owner­ship. Instead, for both Douglass and Burroughs, owner­ship and ­labor are seen to engender a relationship t­oward environment requiring stewardship. This new ethic relies on a reconception of l­abor as a validating act. Both Douglass and Burroughs envision ­humans defined by l­abor, but with limitation on what the l­egal effects of ­labor ­ought to be. Since the possibility of the betrayal of another being exists—as proved by the experience of African descended slaves, or even Chloe the cow—­property rights cannot be absolute. Exactly b­ ecause of the unknowable consequences of ­labor on the earth—­and perhaps b­ ecause the worlds of h­ orses, plants, and the soil itself escape complete ­human knowing—­labor relationships in Burroughs’s and Douglass’s narratives are unavoidably moral relationships.


Da niel C l ausen

Owner­ship is the first crucial category of Douglass’s speech, but he turns the quality of owner­ship back on itself. No longer is owner­ship a license to violate— as the proslavery ideology and its ancestors hold ­today. The “terrible transitive algebra of slavery” that, as Douglass famously wrote years ­earlier, “made men into beasts” had rested upon treating both beasts and men as property.42 One of the primary purposes of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and its many examples of Black Americans who ­were reduced to a condition void of all rights was to demonstrate the injustice of a ­human being treated as property. ­Because Black Americans ­were undeniably h­ uman, slavery was an outrage—as Peter  C. Myers has argued, Douglass understood it as the fundamental wrong.43 Black ­people, Douglass demonstrated through his own experiences, met all the requirements for inclusion in the category of “men.” Douglass had feelings, he could learn and reason, he had Christian faith, and had a natu­ral moral compass that was aligned with his po­liti­cal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—­ rights that ­were poignant in their negation. In Douglass’s vision in his 1873 Nashville speech, however, his goal has changed. Emancipation has been achieved, as he notes. Yet social equality remained out of reach, and the economic forces that should have ensured the smooth functioning of a ­free ­labor system w ­ ere failing to do so. Eric Foner has pointed out that this prescription was common during Reconstruction—­many reformers from the North encouraged Southerners to simply set aside their prejudices and let the marketplace dictate the organ­ization of l­abor.44 But the system was resolving against laborers, particularly Black laborers. The crystallization of this new order was undermining the tenets of ­free ­labor ideology that had motivated the Union. But the revision of owner­ship to include a duty to other living beings is nothing more than a logical outcome of an agrarianism that recognizes the vulnerabilities of nature as well as the unintended consequences of ­human actions. Douglass encourages his audience to care for their implements, pay attention to fuel and ­water for their ­family, return nutrients to the earth (citing, as so many have done before and since, the peasant agriculture of China), and encouraging them to read agricultural journals and accumulate property. In most re­spects this is a standard bourgeois appeal—an industrious and propertyowning ­middle class ­will be a stabilizing and improving force. Therefore, improve yourselves! At the same time, ­there are hints—­not developed but pre­sent—of an alternative and more radical vision: a transspecies vision of agrarian l­ abor. The key feature of Douglass’s speech is that it raises questions of an environmental ethics, questions that we, with a geological understanding of humanity-­as-­species, can hear differently from his original audience of freedpeople in 1873. If all forms of wealth (and production) derive ultimately from the physical earth—­a key argument not only of the physio­ crats but a reminder from many modern environmental economists—so too do all forms of ­labor descend ultimately from something like agriculture.45 Karl Marx’s analy­sis—­roughly contemporaneous to Douglass’s speech and drawing on shared philosophies—­runs thus: “­Labour is, first of all, a pro­cess between

Reconstruction Agrarianism 125

man and nature, a pro­cess by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature.”46 In Marx’s analy­ sis this ends up making “The earth itself . . . ​an instrument of ­labour.”47 Though critiqued ­today for anthropocentrism, Marx’s view clearly recognizes that ­there is no “pure” ethical standpoint.48 The philosophical move of delineating a human/ nature split, the move most regularly contested and deconstructed by ecocritics, is also the one that enables a ­human ethics ­toward nature. If every­thing ­humans do is a part of nature, then ­there are no grounds for a condemnation. In her development of Marx’s concept of l­abor in The H ­ uman Condition, Hannah Arendt points out this (ex)change always takes the form of vio­lence: “Material is already a product of ­human hands which have removed it from its natu­ral location, ­either killing a life pro­cess, as in the case of the tree which must be destroyed in order to provide wood, or interrupting one of nature’s slower pro­cesses, as in the case of iron, stone, or marble torn out of the womb of the earth. This ele­ment of violation and vio­lence is pre­sent in all fabrication.”49 Arendt makes a distinction between ­labor and work, a distinction that she claims is collapsed in Marx’s analy­sis. For Arendt, ­labor indicates the ­human activity that is essentially biological—­what might be called in our new context of Anthropocene awareness, the species level. Arendt herself speaks to the species quality of ­labor. For Arendt, this sort of ­labor was bound up with slavery for the classical world and consisted of jobs that are never complete. That is to say, ­labor is the chores of living that must be repeated daily: cooking, hygiene, even exercise. The products of ­labor do not persist—­bread is used up, what is clean becomes dirty again, the cultivated field w ­ ill revert to nature. Using this definition of l­abor, Arendt’s slave is a ­human whose entire activity was l­ imited to the l­ abor sphere.50 In Arendt’s scheme work, as distinct from ­labor, entails the creation of a stable ­human world of meaningful objects. Drawing on the tripartite Heideggerian distinction between raw objects, objects of ­human use, and ­human subjectivity, Arendt positions work as the action that brings such a “world” of meaning into existence.51 Douglass’s and Burroughs’s observations and responses to the parallel structure of the l­abor of domestic animals and the l­abor of slaves opens up another possibility for Arendt’s theory of ­labor and work. For both ­these Reconstruction writers, animals—­and by extension perhaps all of nature—­can be seen as co-­ laborers as distinct from coworkers. Rather than ­labor serving then as a claim for despotic owner­ship, it becomes a mutualistic biological and ecological undertaking. It opens the door to a potentially regenerative agrarianism, rather than an exploitative one, an extractive one. So, to return to the initial and unavoidable question of l­abor in the Anthropocene: What do t­ hese two visions—­from Burroughs and Douglass—­offer to us as readers newly aware of the expansive scale effects of ­human work on the earth? Fundamentally, both texts are revisionist entries into the tradition of georgic lit­er­a­ture. Such lit­er­a­ture narrates a working relationship with nature, rather than


Da niel C l ausen

splitting nature into wild nature and nonwild civilization. In this aspect, both texts—­and the georgic tradition more broadly—­have a corrective to offer the often unintentional racism of current environmental discourse. Paul Outka has pointed out that a focus on “wild” nature and the experience of the sublime was historically constructed in part by an ideology of white supremacy. He writes: “The natu­ ral sublime can all too easily serve to “greenwash” white identity, removing the historical and cultural context that establishes white supremacy, and substituting for it a dehistoricized white individuality and a luminous pre­sent moment of fantasized escape from culture, race, and time itself. Sublimity references purity, origin, the timeless norm; in its resolution, whiteness can assume ­those values.”52 In the nineteenth ­century, a narrative conflation of the rural landscape with leisure worked in tandem with the White wilderness narrative to encourage exploitation. Quoting Outka again: “In racially identifying slaves with agricultural pastoral, especially with domesticated animals, a terrible sort of transitive algebra allowed whites to conjoin racial and ecological vio­lence . . . ​both land and slave ­were made utterly instrumental to white desire, objectified resources to be exploited and ‘improved’ in the same gesture.”53 But that same “transitive algebra” also seems to work in the opposite direction in ­these two texts. As Douglass and Burroughs show, when ­labor and not leisure is understood as the logic of the rural countryside, many consequences follow: Black Americans are seen to be self-­evidently ­human and equal. Animals and nature are no longer “objectified resources,” but entities of their own, which must be dealt with within a framework of care and re­spect—­rather than exploited without any limitation or guilt. The very understanding of the earth shifts: we might relish our “earth baths,” which become pleas­ur­able, undermining the cap­it­ al­ist labor/leisure distinction, an idea pursued elsewhere in this volume, including in essays by Amanda Adams (chapter 8) and Jennifer K. Ladino (chapter 9). So, both men provide a story of agricultural work at odds with the story implicit in “agrilogistics.” From our new viewpoint within the Anthropocene, an epoch defined due to our recognition and mea­sure­ment of industrial, abstracted vio­lence t­ oward the global environment in the forms of extinction, climate change, ocean acidification, and even radiation, Douglass and Burroughs occupy a unique position. They each model revised yet traditional narratives of sustainability that might stand a chance of appealing to conservatives and progressives alike. Their idiosyncratic visions provide a strategic alliance between the power­ful American myth of virtuous farmers and the urgent need for stories of sustainability, diversity, and belonging.

Notes 1. ​David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (New York: Simon and Schuster,

2018), xiv.

2. ​The text of this lecture can be found at his website, Tom​-­Lynch​.­net, “Humanities u ­ nder the

Sign of the Anthropocene,” Tom Lynch’s Homepage (blog), August 31, 2018, https://­tom​-­lynch​ .­net​/­2018​/­08​/­31​/­humanities​-­under​-­the​-­sign​-­of​-­the​-­anthropocene​/­.

Reconstruction Agrarianism 127

3. ​Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018). 4. ​Timothy Morton, Dark Ecol­ogy: For a Logic of F ­ uture Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 38. 5. ​Paul Outka, Race and Nature from Transcendentalism to the Harlem Re­nais­sance (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 3. 6. ​Outka, Race and Nature, 3. 7. ​Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes, 4. 8. ​Bobby  L. Lovett, “Tennessee Manual ­Labor University,” Tennessee Encyclopedia (blog), accessed November 19, 2018, https://­tennesseeencyclopedia​.­net​/­entries​/­tennessee​-­manual​-­labor​ -­university​/­. 9. ​Paul W. Gates, The Farmer’s Age: Agriculture, 1815–1860 (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), 313. 10. ​Eric Foner, Reconstruction: Amer­ic­ a’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877, 1st ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), 29. 11. ​J. Hector St.  John de Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer and Sketches of Eighteenth-­Century Amer­i­ca, ed. Albert E. Stone (Harmonds­worth, Middlesex: Penguin Classics, 1981); and Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of ­Virginia: With Related Documents (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2002). 12. ​Blight, Frederick Douglass, 560–561; and Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography and Other Writings (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). 13. ​James Perrin Warren, John Burroughs and the Place of Nature (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006), 1. 14. ​John Burroughs and Charlotte Zoë Walker, The Art of Seeing ­Things: Essays, 1st ed. (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2001), 100. 15. ​Burroughs and Walker, 100. 16. ​Burroughs and Walker, 100. 17. ​Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau, ed. Brooks Atkinson (New York: Modern Library, 1992), 146. 18. ​Anna Thomas, “Why Working Fewer Hours Would Make Us More Productive,” The Guardian, November 9, 2015, https://­www​.t­ heguardian​.c­ om​/­sustainable​-b­ usiness​/­2015​/­nov​/­09​/­fewer​ -­working​-­hours​-d­ octors​-­eu​-­negotiations. Karl Marx, The German Ideology: Including ­Theses on Feuerbach and Introduction to The Critique of Po­liti­cal Economy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1976). 19. ​Burroughs and Walker, Art of Seeing ­Things, 100. 20. ​See, for instance, Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008) for more on the practical ways that other species contribute to a “becoming with” for h­ umans in an ecologically diverse earthly environment. 21. ​Burroughs and Walker, Art of Seeing ­Things, 102. 22. ​Burroughs and Walker, 102. 23. ​Lydia Fisher, “Agricultural Science, Sentiment, and the Domesticated Slave,” ESQ: A Journal of the American Re­nais­sance 58, no. 3 (February 11, 2013): 380, https://­doi​.­org​/1­ 0.1353/esq.2013​ .0000. 24. ​Fisher, 380. 25. ​Leah Penniman, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2018). 26. ​Morton, Dark Ecol­ogy. 27. ​Frederick Douglass, “Address Delivered by Hon. Frederick Douglass, at the Third Annual Fair of the Tennessee Colored Agricultural and Mechanical Association,” image, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 3, accessed November  21, 2018, https://­www​.­loc​.­gov​/­resource​/­mfd​ .­22023​/­​?­sp​=2­ . 28. ​Douglass, 5.


Da niel C l ausen

29. ​Douglass, 6. 30. ​Douglass, 6. 31. ​Douglass, 8. 32. ​Douglass, 9. 33. ​Douglass, 10. 34. ​Douglass, 10. 35. ​See Drew Gilpin Faust, The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South,

1830–1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981). 36. ​See, for instance, “Commons vs. Commodities,” CNS Web (blog), November  17, 2013, http://­www​.­cnsjournal​.­org​/­commons​-­vs​-­commodities​/­. 37. ​Douglass, “Address,” 12. 38. ​Douglass, 12. 39. ​Douglass, 13. 40. ​Douglass, 14. 41. ​The dimension of gender is significant in demonstrating that this settler imperial, patriarchal, racist worldview linked all non-­W hite, nonmale O ­ thers with “raw” natu­ral material that needed an application of ­labor to “domesticate” it. Dealing specifically with gender dimension goes beyond the immediate scope of this essay. 42. ​Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001); and Outka, Race and Nature. 43. ​Peter C. Myers, Frederick Douglass: Race and the Rebirth of American Liberalism (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008). 44. ​Foner, Reconstruction, 30. 45. ​For more on the permeable boundary between hunter-­gatherer and agricultural socie­ties, see James C. Scott, Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017). 46. ​Karl Marx et al., Capital: A Critique of Po­liti­cal Economy (London: Penguin Books in association with New Left Review, 1990), 283. 47. ​Marx et al., 285. 48. ​Morton, Dark Ecol­ogy, 26–34. 49. ​Hannah Arendt, The ­Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 122. 50. ​Thus Hegel’s famous hy­po­thet­i­cal slave—­who sees his work reified in the world and thus has more existence than his master—­would have already transcended Arendt’s condition of total slavery. 51. ​Michael Wheeler, “Martin Heidegger,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta, Winter 2018 (Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 2018), https://­plato​.­stanford​ .­edu​/­archives​/­win2018​/­entries​/­heidegger​/­. 52. ​Outka, Race and Nature, 24–25. 53. ​Outka, 25.

6 ▶ THE WORK OF THE GLOBE How the Unisphere, Icon of the 1964–1965 World’s Fair, Illuminates the Nature of Modern Work J A M ES A R MSTRO N G


he 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair was intended as a leisure destination for families who would spend the day strolling between pavilions erected by sixty-­six nations, twenty-­four states, and some three hundred U.S. companies.1 Visitors could experience musical lessons in chemistry, eat a Pakistani goat curry, tour a reproduction of a medieval Flemish village, walk among life-­sized dinosaurs, and view the exciting f­ uture of mankind in any number of exhibits devoted to technological pro­gress. Despite troubling events outside the fair gates—­the recent assassination of John F. Kennedy, the escalating Vietnam conflict, the violent encounters between racists and civil rights marchers in the South—­the World’s Fair seemed to offer an “oasis of faith and optimism” about the f­ uture, which attendees found comforting.2 Their confidence in a forthcoming industrial utopia was summed up in the fair’s symbol, the Unisphere—­a 140-­foot-­tall globe made of stainless steel. Gleaming in the midst of a vast artificial lake dubbed the “Pool of 129


J a mes A r mstrong

figure 6.1. The Unisphere in Queens, New York (Guy Percival/

Industry,” the Unisphere stood as the power­ful symbol of the inevitable triumph of modernity: it signified a world united by ­free markets and technological innovation; a world where global work would soon create global prosperity. (See Figure 6.1.) The fair’s official theme was “Peace Through Understanding,” which reflected the ideals of Robert Kopple, the New York real estate l­awyer who first envisioned the fair in 1958. Kopple had been “surprised at his ­daughters’ ignorance of life outside the United States,”3 and ­later said, “It occurred to me that I would like to bring home to them that ­people around the world w ­ ere basically the same.” Remembering his own experience of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Kopple said he thought “it would be nice to bring the nations of the world together again.”4 Thus at outset the fair was intended to encourage better understanding between American youth and the many nations—­including many new postcolonial nations—of the postwar period. A ­ fter two world wars, and in the midst of the rising tensions of the Cold War, the longing for peace was real, and Kopple’s concept reflected some of the hopefulness of the United Nations, headquartered across the East River in Manhattan. By the fair’s opening in 1964, however, it had a second slogan: “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.” This was the theme proposed by Robert Moses, New York City’s “Master Builder” who had become president of the World’s Fair Corporation (WFC) (ousting Robert Kopple in the

The Work of the Globe 131

pro­cess), and who had s­ haped the fair to suit his own vision. By “Man’s Achievement,” Moses mostly meant the industrial innovation in manufacturing, communications, and transportation that was transforming work regimes in the postwar period. If Kopple had seen a world unified by a common ­human nature, Moses saw a world unified by modern work. Although world’s fairs have always been trade fairs at core, Moses would ensure that the 1964–1965 World’s Fair would be the most trade-­centered of all. This was reflected in the fact that the pavilions built by major corporations far outnumbered the pavilions by nations and states. Unlike other world’s fairs, the 1964–1965 World’s Fair was not officially funded by a nation-­state—it was not even officially sanctioned by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), the governing body that regulated world’s fairs from its office in Paris.5 B ­ ecause the BIE prohibited countries from holding more than one world’s fair in a de­cade, and the United States had just held the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, Moses would have had to go to g­ reat lengths to make the case for his fair; he de­cided (as he often did in his long c­ areer) to reject any influence or authority over his proj­ect and go it alone. In l­egal clashes with the BIE, Moses’s ­lawyers distinguished the New York World’s Fair from its pre­de­ces­sors by designating it a “­free enterprise exhibition.” This was accurate: in order to fund the fair, Moses convinced the executives of newly globalizing American corporations to turn it into a g­ iant billboard for their businesses. As Lawrence R. Samuel says, “This new fair, executives believed, represented an unpre­ce­dented opportunity to build goodwill among tens of millions of consumers from all around the world, a promotional vehicle that promised to pay dividends for de­cades.”6 International exhibitors would likewise suborn cultural aims to business ones. Many countries ­were represented by “ ‘unofficial’ pavilions from private companies or industrial organ­izations,”7 as they w ­ ere “­eager to claim their stake in the fast-­growing global economy.”8 Samuel asserts that “perhaps more than anything ­else, the Fair served as a pronounced endorsement of American-­style consumer capitalism.”9 If the New York World’s Fair was promising a global f­ uture unified by American-­ style consumer technology and the ­free market, this was a vision at the core of modernity’s notion of pro­gress. The main tenets of modernity’s expansive and optimistic worldview are summed up by the sociologist Anthony Giddens as “(1) the idea of the world as open to transformation, by h­ uman intervention; (2) a complex of economic institutions, especially industrial production and a market economy; (3) a certain range of po­liti­cal institutions, including the nation-­state and mass democracy.”10 The overall theme of the World’s Fair was the immanent triumph of all three of t­ hese ideas—­but most especially the first two. The World’s Fair created an imaginative space in which fairgoers could imagine a bright f­ uture, one where the world would be one vast f­ree market, transformed by technology into a cornucopia of consumption and leisure. This modern proj­ect to reor­ga­nize and shape the planet both culturally and practically was premised on a universal, stable, and rationalized Nature capable of serving as the platform for such vast ambitions. This was embodied in the fair’s


J a mes A r mstrong

symbol. The Unisphere had been commissioned by Robert Moses to be iconic in the way the Eiffel Tower was for the Paris Exposition, or the Trylon and Perisphere ­were for the 1939 New York World’s Fair (indeed, the Unisphere occupied the same spot in the Flushing Meadows fairground the Perisphere had, before it was melted down for scrap during World War II). Like ­these previous icons, the Unisphere was a paragon of the latest technological knowhow. It was built by the American Bridge Com­pany, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, and the official fair guidebook claimed its design “required the solution of mathematical prob­lems so complex that without high-­speed computers, planning the Unisphere would have taken 10 years.”11 Engineers had to balance its g­ reat weight—it weighed 940,000 pounds and was lopsided due to the fact that the continental masses are predominately on one side of the globe. It also had to be stable in wind: the ­great continental masses tended to “act as sails in the wind” and threatened to topple the structure over in a nor’easter.12 As a structure, the Unisphere was an admirable tribute to American structural engineering (as the Eiffel Tower had been a tribute to French engineering). But above all the Unisphere was the world’s largest globe. It featured all the earth’s land masses, accurately welded to lines of latitude and longitude. The world’s mountain ranges w ­ ere featured in relief. Each of the world’s capital cities was represented by a light. True to the idea that the globe should depict “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe,” the Unisphere was also an icon of the space age. It was encircled by three orbital rings, which ­were often interpreted by fairgoers as representing the orbital flights of Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn as well as the orbit of the communications satellite Telstar. Moreover, the ­giant globe, set in the ­middle of a “350-­foot-­diameter pool smack in the heart of the fairgrounds,” was surrounded by jets of ­water that w ­ ere intended to hide its base and give viewers the illusion that it was floating in midair.13 From the edge of the fountain, assured the fair guidebook, “it shows the world as it appears from 6,000 miles in space.”14 This meant that fairgoers w ­ ere put physically in orbit around the Unisphere, looking out on their world soon to be reshaped by science and by global markets into a plea­sure ground of prosperity for its dominant species. The symbolic power of the Unisphere was not l­ imited to its evocation of the physical globe. It was ­adopted as a power­ful icon of the fair’s globalizing ideology—of its embrace of capitalism as the globe’s unifying rationale. Though New York critics sneered that the design was “trite” and “uninspired”—­and Esquire called it “incredibly corny”—­the Unisphere was an effective marketing tool. According to Advertising Age, it was “the greatest tie-in coup at the fair, a hot property that was popping up on clothing, toys and sugar wrappers.” The WFC was of course “sticking the Unisphere on a tremendous array of souvenirs to be sold at the Fair, including wastebaskets, motorized fans, egg timers, salt and pepper shakers, jackknives, bow ties, lighters, and, of course, snow domes.”15 That the Unisphere could be small enough to fit on a pepper shaker is perhaps an overly literal interpretation of Moses’s claim that h­ umans lived on a “Shrinking

The Work of the Globe 133

Globe,” but Bruno Latour has pointed out that e­ very globe is preshrunk: it is a small model standing in for an incomprehensibly larger and more complex world. Latour demonstrates that “global thinking” is endemic to modernity’s love of reductionism and exclusion, its tendency to reify abstractions. Latour describes the globe as a kind of visual “bait and switch”—­a globe is “a local device apt to be inspected by a group of ­humans who are looking at it, but never the world itself in which every­thing is presumed to be included.”16 Latour states that, while the globe purports to give a “global” perspective, “the figure of the Globe authorizes a premature leap to a higher level by confusing the figures of connection with ­those of totality.”17 The globe standardizes all spatial relations, making them in a sense interchangeable, and encourages an objective point of view from beyond the world, what Latour calls the “view from nowhere.” Unlike the medieval Mappa Mundi, which depicted “Bible stories, history, my­thol­ogy, flora, fauna and exotic races” so that “they become minor encyclopedias of medieval knowledge,”18 modern globes depict geo­graph­ic­ al features such as coastlines and rivers, but attach no specific value to t­ hese; in fact the only h­ uman values imposed on the globe are in the locations of capital cities and the names and outlines of nation-­ states—­usually indicated by color. Unlike two-­dimensional maps, which have a center and thus are inherently biased (as the Mappa Mundi was centered on Jerusalem, and even modern world maps locate Eu­rope or Amer­ic­ a as their center), the globe re-­creates the “objectivity” of the new scientific worldview by having no center (although of course it is usually presented with an “up” and a “down”). In this sense the modern globe trades density of specific local information for accuracy of relations between abstract points. Giddens describes this as the fundamental modern proj­ect of prying apart “space” from “place.” He says, “The advent of modernity increasingly tears space away from place by fostering relations between ‘absent’ ­others, locationally distant from any given situation of face-­to-­face interaction. In conditions of modernity, place becomes increasingly phantasmagoric: that is to say, locales are thoroughly penetrated by and s­ haped in terms of social influences quite distant from them. What structures the locale is not simply that which is pre­sent on the scene; the ‘vis­i­ble form’ of the locale conceals the distanciated relations which determine its nature.”19 A globe pre­sents all the world as equally available to the ­human gaze—­which is to say equally available to the colonial work of extraction and appropriation. One might say that the globe is the prepared stage for the triumph of capital, ­because from the remove of the view from nowhere, ­there can be no re­sis­tance to global economic rationalization. The creation of “empty” space, a result of what Giddens calls its “substitutability,” goes hand in hand with Eu­rope’s imperial expansion, which harnessed the world in regimes of cap­i­tal­ist ­labor. Giddens says: The development of “empty space” is linked above all to two sets of ­factors: ­those allowing for the repre­sen­ta­tion of space without reference to a privileged locale which forms a distinct vantage-­point; and t­ hose making pos­si­ble the substitutability


J a mes A r mstrong

of dif­fer­ent spatial units. The “discovery” of “remote” regions of the world by Western travelers and explorers was the necessary basis of both of t­ hese. The progressive charting of the globe that led to the creation of universal maps, in which perspective played ­little part in the repre­sen­ta­tion of geo­graph­ic­ al position and form, established space as “in­de­pen­dent” of any par­tic­u­lar place or region.20

The main features of the modern globe are outlines of continents, major topographical details such as rivers and mountains, and usually the colored patchwork denoting the sovereign territory of nation-­states. As Giddens points out, such modern nation-­states thrive on what he calls “disembedding,” which is the separating of time and space and their formation into “standardized, ‘empty’ dimensions” that sever “the particularities of contexts of presence” in social actions. Giddens claims that disembedded institutions “greatly extend the scope of time-­space distanciation and, to have this effect, depend upon coordination across time and space. This phenomenon serves to open up manifold possibilities of change by breaking f­ ree from the restraints of local habits and practices.”21 Latour has been a strong critic of distanciated global thought. Since the globe is a model, an instrument, it should reveal, not obscure. “Shifting from a local to a global viewpoint ­ought to mean multiplying viewpoints,” he says, “registering a greater number of va­ri­et­ ies, taking into account a larger number of beings, cultures, phenomena, organisms, and ­people.” Instead, Latour says the term “globalization” “is used to mean that a single vision, entirely provincial, proposed by a few individuals, representing a very small number of interests, ­limited to a few mea­sur­ing instruments, to a few standards and protocols, has been imposed on every­one and spread everywhere.”22 This, he adds, is typical of the “provincial” view of moderns, who are “too quick to unify” and thus exclude by reduction. They proceed to use their anorexic notion of what is real to dominate ­others; they validate this procedure by teleology, the “­great lever of modernization.” Latour states, “For two centuries, the arrow of time has made it pos­si­ble to locate on one side ­those who are moving forward—­the modernizers, the progressives—­and on the other ­those who remain b­ ehind.”23 Kathryn Yusoff has claimed that t­ hose left b­ ehind by t­ hese narratives of modernization include especially the Black and Brown bodies whose exploited ­labor and appropriated lands funded the “global view.” Yusoff would remind moderns that the imperial search for wealth was the impetus ­behind the mapping of the world—­that is, the construction of the globe—­and the consequence of model making was colonialism. “The crux of the prob­lem is the transformation of land into territory,” she says, and territory is, in the words of Édouard Glissant, “ ‘the basis for conquest.’ ”24 A globe aids in the expropriative and extractive work of colonialism by projecting over local particulars the universal Cartesian grid, which then becomes the method for determining property rights. Like Latour, Yusoff critiques the teleological pretensions of modernity to a benign narrative of general pro­gress, saying, “Recast as ‘development,’ the colonial and settler-­colonial dispossession of the relation to land and geography was never something chosen

The Work of the Globe 135

without coercion. So, monuments made to ­these moments of extraction only accrue the extension of value to ­those colonial forces.”25 We might see the Unisphere as just such a monument. Constructed to appear as if it is floating, without foundation, sui generis, in fact the Unisphere is the product of h­ uman l­ abor commanded by po­liti­cal and economic ideology. It claims to be a map of the world, but is in fact a rhetorical assertion about the world—­and about the ­future of work in that world. Yusoff critiques the role that the science (in par­tic­u­lar geology, i.e., Earth history) has played in colonial conquest and appropriation, asking how it might “enact territorial extraction (through survey, classification, codification, and annexation).”26 Far from being “an innocent or natu­ral description of the world,” geohistory is “a doubling of the notion of property as a description of minerology and property as an acquisition (as resource, land, extractive quality of energy or mineral). This geologic lexicon is a practice that enacts colonialism through what Sylvia Wynter called ‘scientific humanism’ that is mobilized as a praxis for dispossession.”27 Yusoff calls this praxis “a geophysics of being—­a world-­making that was for the few and firmly committed to the enlightenment proj­ect of liberal individualism and its exclusions.”28 The Unisphere is a generator of this “geophysics of being”—by excluding both geopo­liti­cal and geological complexities. For all its size, it is peculiarly lacking in detail. Unlike most globes, it does not indicate the bound­aries of nations, only representing each nation’s capital by a single bright light. This is in line with the fair’s theme of a world united by ­free markets and technological innovation—­ nation-­states ­will recede in importance as the market does its work. Moreover, the continents are depicted with only rudimentary topographical relief, and t­ here is no indication of rivers or seas. The oceans have entirely vanished. In fact, the Unisphere was designed like an armillary sphere, an open “birdcage” of hoops to which the stainless-­steel continents ­were welded. The result is that the globe is mostly empty air: the oceans are con­spic­uo­ us by their absence, but so is most of the planet’s mass. Lacking a center, the Unisphere also lacks any reference to geological activity: without a molten, magnetic core, the Unisphere is truly inert: ­there can be no mountain building, no continental drift (in fact, the continents are welded in place). Fi­nally, the Unisphere—­like all globes—­lacks an atmosphere. As James Lovelock has shown, a planet’s atmosphere is its most distinctive feature— it is how an observer determines w ­ hether life is pre­sent on the planet’s surface.29 The Unisphere thus lacks the three ­great engines of dynamic change—­the molten core, the oceans, and the atmosphere—­that give a planet a natu­ral history. The Unisphere misrepresents the earth as a nearly featureless stable platform, ignoring the complicated roil of earth systems that through their highly reactive dynamics can push back against or even obliterate the modern frontier. It remakes the world as passive and mostly empty. The Unisphere—­like all globes—­effectively proj­ects a “deanimated” and changeless (i.e., “stainless”) earth. This is crucial, b­ ecause the premise of a deanimated world was necessary to the goal of global transformation by modern regimes of work.


J a mes A r mstrong

This is also in line with modernity’s general method: Latour points out that it is a standard feature of the history of science that the modern proj­ect begins with deanimation, as modern metaphysics reduces all ­matter to res extensa in the Galilean and Cartesian sense. This deanimation serves to highlight, by contrast, the anthropocentric presumption that ­human agency, vis­i­ble in work, is entirely unique. ­Humans work; animals are automatons; the earth is passive. But Latour has argued that this is not a profound philosophical insight so much as an effect of style. Though science, in its metaphysics, begins with Lucretian atomism and Cartesian mechanism, science as practice immediately begins to proliferate with accounts of newly discovered agents in the soil, the air, the ­water—­agents whose work is complex and ingenious. But the rhetorical way in which t­ hese agents are described downplays them as agents: The idea of a deanimated world is only a way of linking animations as if nothing ­were happening ­there. But agency is always ­there, what­ever we may do. The idea of a Nature/Culture distinction, like that of humans/nonhuman, is nothing like a ­great philosophical concept, a profound ontology; it is a secondary stylistic effect, posterior, derived, through which we purport to simplify the distribution of actors by proceeding to designate some as animate and o­ thers as inanimate. This second operation succeeds only in deanimating certain protagonists, called “material,” by depriving them of their activity, and in overanimating certain o­thers, called “­human,” by crediting them with admirable capacities for action—­freedom, consciousness, reflexivity, a moral sense, and so on.30

­ ese ostensibly ­human capacities are displayed especially in ­labor. But, as GidTh dens might say, deanimating the material world helps with the practical proj­ect of disembedding ­labor from its social particularities and committing it instead to placeless modern institutions. Latour has referred to the “parochialism” of globalism; that is, the vision of an empty secular space that essentially deontologizes any competing worldview. The secular worldview of modernity, with its corrosive attitude ­toward tradition, its spreading network of technical expertise and ­labor norms, and its unique valuing of the ­future over the past, renders the laborers “­free” to devote themselves entirely to the corporations that appropriate their agency for profit. The dioramas and per­for­mances seen in the pavilions of the New York World’s Fair ­were for the most part dedicated to a narrative of h­ uman destiny as envisioned by corporate executives. Th ­ ese exhibits did not simply provide information: they provided a celebratory myth. They depicted the modern belief in the transformation of ­labor through science and through ­free enterprise. The overall impression was that the f­ uture was inseparable from the consumer products and ser­vices which ­were both its cause and its result. It was also inseparable from the automobile—­ the supreme example of a consumer product whose production also provided the kind of work that lifted Americans into the ­middle class. The transformation of the

The Work of the Globe 137

American economy into a consumer economy was largely driven by the car, so it was no surprise that it had pride of place in the 1964–1965 World’s Fair. As Joseph Tirella says, “no single industry was better represented than Detroit’s Big Three automakers.”31 The car was the symbolic vehicle that would carry workers forward with the “modernizing frontier.” The Ford Pavilion, for example, designed by Walt Disney, featured a r­ ide in “track-­guided Mustangs and Thunderbird convertibles” down a “Magic Skyway” through the history of the earth, from dinosaurs to the Stone Age and beyond. Ride-­goers witnessed “the evolution or pro­gress of man through seminal discoveries or inventions in history—­fire, the wheel, and the first Ford.”32 The r­ ide treated the invention of the wheel as the apotheosis of history. Disney himself narrated the ­ride’s soundtrack, saying at its climax, “The wheel gave man a new freedom. Now he could leave the caves ­behind and travel on to seek his fortune in the wide, wide world.”33 Clearly, the vision of pro­gress ­here as a globalized mobility away from ­labor tied to a specific locale (“the caves”) and ­toward an unspecified f­uture space where the rewards for globalized work would be expressed in that single term, “fortune.” Another example was the General Motors “Futurama” exhibit, which further extended the horizon of mobility. The most popu­lar ­ride in both 1964 and 1965, it featured stunning vistas of a near f­uture inside a pavilion whose ­giant jet fin evoked “a virtually limitless transportation f­uture” in which technology would bring unpre­ce­dented prosperity and leisure. As Samuel describes it, “While sitting in contoured seats equipped with speakers, visitors ­were offered a vision of ‘the non-­too-­distant’ ­future in which man tamed or conquered every­thing that nature could dish out. Futuramans took a trip to the moon, relaxed u­ nder the ocean at an aquatic resort, visited a jungle in which trees ­were knocked down like toothpicks, and cruised through a desert where crops thrived in soil irrigated by desalted seawater and machines planted and harvested crops by remote control.”34 This was the eschaton of ­labor as envisioned by modernity: a ­future in which technology would completely manage the earth for ­human well-­being. One telling part of the ­ride, according to Tirella, was “an improbable gigantic highway-­creating machine: a technological Leviathan that could convert ­Mother Nature, literally pulverizing earth and rock and tearing out trees, as it slowly crawled along its path, leaving only a smooth, paved highway.”35 This “computerized Moloch” was a dramatization of what would, indeed, be the ­future for substantial parts of the American landscape in the late twentieth ­century as Amer­i­ca became the land of subdivisions and superhighways. The end result would be a “disembedding” of American locality on a vast scale, as over the next fifty years the cities and towns across the country would find their work regimes completely reor­ga­nized to accommodate the efficiencies of highway transportation networks. The idea of the inevitable march of pro­gress had been central to world’s fairs since the ­Great Exposition of 1851, but it reached a kind of apotheosis in the 1964– 1965 New York World’s Fair. In multiple ways the fair attractions worked the way the miracle plays once worked in medieval fairs: they recommitted the attendees to


J a mes A r mstrong

the central religious concepts of what Charles Taylor calls the “Social Imaginary,”—­ the repertoire of actions and identities members of a society use to constitute their sense of the social.36 For moderns, the idea of a ­future liberated by technology and by peaceful economic production—­labor instead of war—in a secularized public sphere seemed the given destiny of h­ umans. Futurama visitors w ­ ere handed buttons that said, “I have seen the ­Future,” a visual symbol that they had been allowed to visualize and participate in the coming world of work. And yet this idea of liberation by pro­gress contained a paradox. The work that would liberate the fairgoer’s ­future was being done by machines. Robert Moses himself, in his official welcoming remarks at the beginning of the official fair guidebook, claimed that the opportunity to view “machines that fly, think, transport, fashion and do man’s work” was one of the central attractions of the fair.37 While peddling the notion of a world of products, made by ­human work, the fair was also peddling the notion that machines would soon be granting every­one leisure. This was especially true of home products. The General Electric Carousel of Pro­gress— another Walt Disney design—­followed the American ­family from the beginning to the end of the twentieth ­century as it was continually transformed by mechanical con­ve­niences that freed f­amily members up for exactly the kind of leisure families attending the exhibits w ­ ere experiencing. It was a kind of Pilgrim’s Pro­gress: “While the f­ amily of the past strug­gled with yesterday’s primitive technology—­a gas lamp, a kitchen pump, an icebox, a flatiron—­the ­family of the pre­sent rejoiced in the electrical won­ders of 1964 in a bountiful Christmas scene.”38 It did not seem to occur to anyone in 1964 that ­these “­labor saving” machines might one day take over the manufacturing jobs that promised a middle-­class wage to workers, that the dream of abundant leisure would be supplanted by the real­ity of redundant laborers. For most fairgoers, a ­future liberated by peaceful economic production in a secularized public sphere seemed the given destiny of h­ umans. The Western story of pro­gress—­the story of the expanding Modern frontier, the tip of the unstoppable arrow of time—­was (like the concept of the globe) a way to suppress any arguments or misgivings. Never mind that this “destiny” was distinctly European—­and even more specifically American—­W hite, and male. The narratives of pro­gress that saturated the vari­ous pavilions assumed that Western Man would be the first across the finish line in a race that all ­were expected to run. For ­those not sharing in that Western worldview, a ­future conversion awaited them. ­Those who protested that their beliefs and values might be worth keeping could be accused of clinging to ridicu­ lous and archaic superstitions. Thus, the 1964–1965 World’s Fair pavilions refer again and again to narratives of the unfolding pro­gress of “man”—­the Traveler’s Insurance Pavilion program was specifically called “The Triumph of Man,” which, according to its full-­page ad on the inside cover of the Official Guide, would show visitors “man’s triumphant emergence from the dawn of time to the dawn of tomorrow.” As Sylvia Wynter has noted, Western narratives of ­human development tend to incorporate “all forms of ­human being into a single homogenized

The Work of the Globe 139

descriptive statement that is based on the figure of the West’s liberal monohumanist Man.”39 Although the narrative claimed to anyone reading, “This is YOUR story,” the face of the man at the end of the pre­sen­ta­tion is very definitely White.40 In fact in this case he looks a l­ittle like Fred MacMurray—­a middle-­aged, slightly jowly executive with a sixties haircut, staring meaningfully into the distance. Again, the globe is being cleared of complexity to make way for unity of a specific sort—­a unity or­ga­nized around American corporate values of ­labor and production, values that demoted to a secondary status any social investment in noncommercial spaces and times. It especially demoted to secondary consideration anything not in­ter­est­ing to—­because not in­ven­ted by—­W hite Westerners. According to Samuel, critics at the time commented that the “Peace Through Understanding” ideal of the fair was not particularly long on the “understanding” part. Although the technology and science demonstrations in the corporate pavilions ­were sometimes praised for their sophistication, the pavilions of foreign nations tended to be shallow in their depiction of culture, reducing ancient and diverse lifeways to kitsch. Samuel states that “nations in the International Area w ­ ere ‘theme parking’ their pavilions, having learned by now that the my­thol­ogy surrounding their nations’ identities was, at least in economic terms, more impor­tant than the real­ity.”41 He quotes the art critic Robert Hughes as saying, “To visit any country’s pavilion is to emerge laden with its most overworked tourist images.”42 ­These exoticized simplicities had an economic motive: many emerging countries ­were “using the fair primarily to move up the global economic food chain” b­ ecause many “had strong ties with the United States (such as Japan and Mexico), or ­else w ­ ere the recipients of U.S. aid (such as India and Pakistan).”43 Thus, while the original hope of the fair was that American young ­people would connect with difference, the ­actual work of the fair was to co-­ opt difference into the universalizing narrative of capitalism. That meant, in practice, convincing ­people of the value of working, laboring, to change the world. Perhaps the most enduring example of the 1964 World’s Fair’s shallow multiculturalism was the Pepsi Pavilion’s “It’s a Small World ­After All” ­ride, which is described in the fair guide: “The boat ­ride called ‘It’s a Small World—­A Salute to UNICEF,’ carries spectators past such familiar scenes as France’s Eiffel Tower, a Dutch Windmill and India’s Taj Mahal. The animated figures dance, cavort with droll animals, and in their vari­ous languages sing a song called “It’s a Small World,” composed especially for the exhibit.”44 The ­ride had been designed by Walt Disney, and it showed. The diversity of the world’s cultures was reduced to cartoon images; it is telling that the exhibit focuses on ­children, thereby demoting locality to a childlike trait. Most of t­ hese images appear to us now as ridiculously ste­reo­ typed if not outright racist—­but t­ here is a simultaneous eliding of difference, as each doll’s face was made to be proportionately identical. What makes the world small is the erasure of local texture, which creates an overall impression of substitutability, reinforcing the logic of cap­i­tal­ist mass production. The ­ride was described in the fair guide as “girdling” the globe, and in advertisements the viewer’s boat trip was plotted on a Mercator projection. The Sherman ­Brothers, who wrote the


J a mes A r mstrong

ride’s title song, evoke the way in which, from a distance, the differences that fuel conflict dis­appear. The lyr­ics of the theme song (so memorable to anyone growing up in that era), assert that even though certain features of the earth, like the oceans and mountains, may divide us, we all live ­under the same moon and sun, and, as the title says, “It’s a Small World ­After All.”45 Once again, the global “view from nowhere” accomplishes unity through reduction. One should not downplay the real advantages of this idea: certainly the goal of world peace is laudable, and for many Americans the enthusiasm and idealism of the World’s Fair had the desired effect of arousing interest in dif­fer­ent cultures. But as Samuel puts it, the most impor­tant work of the fair was the physical connection of the many diverse ­peoples in one place: “­Because a world’s fair had to, a­ fter all, be a world’s fair, for twelve months Flushing Meadows was turned into what may very well have been the most culturally diverse place on earth.”46 It was the real­ity of individuals meeting one another, rather than the simplified ste­reo­types of the vari­ous cultural pavilions, that was impor­tant. As Latour might put it, individual encounters emphasized connection between locales, rather than the totality of globalism. Encounters with difference can make the world seem larger, rather than smaller. However, the overriding theme of pro­gress—­the g­ reat unifying teleology of Western modernity—­was the glue that put the patchwork of nations together. Difference would be superseded by the imposition of a f­uture sameness. It was inevitable that the ontologies of dif­fer­ent cultures would be weakened by such an assembly. New York Times reporter Walter Carlson wrote, in his article “What Is a World’s Fair?” that for him the essence of the experience was “being able to sit in the Ca­rib­bean outdoor restaurant . . . ​sipping a tall Mai tai while listening to a calypso singer on the stage, while outside a bagpipe band skirls by and across the street Mexican Indians swing upside down from a 114-­foot pole in a prayer for rain.”47 Difference devolves to consumer choice as the world’s diverse cultures provide amusement for the modern subject. In the logic of capitalism, such leisure is the reward for omnipresent l­abor. However, the relentless disembedding of global capitalism has the effect of delegitimizing the local beliefs and customs that produce ­these amusing va­ri­e­ties. As Giddens says, any tradition held onto by moderns is “tradition in sham clothing.”48 It lacks substantial real­ity. One finds a similar attitude in the many con­temporary newsreels covering the World’s Fair (many of which have been uploaded on YouTube). To the editors of the British Pathé documentary New York World’s Fair 1964, for example, a reenactment of a Nigerian drumming ritual, featuring masked deities, was on par with a Japa­nese robot or a duck trained to play the piano. It was all good fun.49 If the world was being made small by the World’s Fair’s global view, t­ here was a simultaneous expansion of ­human destiny implied by that view. We have already seen that the Unisphere was designed to “float” in space, as if being seen from a distance of six thousand miles. We have also seen that the Unisphere was encircled by three rings, representing the orbits of Gagarin, Glenn, and the new Telstar communications satellite. This was intended to visually signal that the earth itself

The Work of the Globe 141

was not the limit for ­humans. Robert Moses himself claimed that the Unisphere was “easily recognizable by the average visitor as symbolizing the interdependence of all ­people on a small shrinking planet in an expanding universe.”50 The implication was that h­ uman destiny lay with the expanding universe. This brings up another impor­tant point Latour makes about globalism. We are familiar with the “Copernican revolution,” by which we mean the decentering of the earth: the positing of a heliocentric model suddenly gave h­ umans a sense of their planet as a planet, as one of several bodies orbiting the sun. Although Freud famously pointed out this decentering was a ­great blow to ­human self-­regard—he called it a “narcissistic wound”—­Latour maintains it was also, paradoxically, an inflation of ­human pride. Whereas the medieval cosmos put us on the earth, looking up at the fixed stars, the proper interpretation of this was that ­humans ­were on the bottom—­ mired in the fallen world with its sin and corruption. The new heliocentric cosmos created the “view from nowhere”—­a view that implied ­humans might stand apart from the earth, not by grace, but by m ­ ental (and eventually physical) l­abor. The post-­Copernican perspective made it pos­si­ble to think that our home is no longer Earth but everywhere. As Latour puts it, “Fi­nally we get out of our hole! We are emancipated at last!” He quotes the speech from Brecht’s play, The Life of Galileo, in which the playwright has the famous astronomer say, “For two thousand years ­people have believed that the sun and all the stars of heaven rotate around mankind. . . . ​But now we are breaking out of it . . . ​at full speed. ­Because the old days are over and this is a new time. . . . ​Soon humanity is g­ oing to understand its abode.”51 This notion was greatly encouraged by the “space race” that, in 1965, was in full deployment. This meant that the World’s Fair placed a marked emphasis on space travel. In the “Travel” section of the fairgrounds “Space Park” visitors saw displayed “a Proj­ect Mercury spacecraft which has orbited the earth, a Gemini two-­ man spacecraft, a model of the Apollo which w ­ ill carry three astronauts into lunar orbit, a lunar excursion vehicle in which men w ­ ill land on the moon, the lower portion of the Saturn V moon rocket, and a full-­scale X-15 rocket-­powered research airplane. Thor-­Delta, Atlas and Titan II rockets stand in launch positions, with the Tiros satellite and Mercury and Gemini Capsules as their payloads.”52 Many of the narratives of the New York World’s Fair imply that “Man’s destiny” is to leave the earth and live on distant planets. As the biochemist Peter Westbroek puts it, describing the common view of the time: “Space Travel held the greatest promise. If we ­humans could move out into space, surely we could overcome the trivial prob­lems remaining on earth. Humankind would fulfill its destiny: to dominate the natu­ral world. Maybe we would conquer the universe.”53 Such thinking makes the entire planet the object of a regime of work, and a site for the display of ever-­greater h­ uman prowess. In addition to the many depictions of space flight in the vari­ous pavilions, the promise of space was artistically embodied in a statue called “Rocket Thrower,” which was placed opposite the Unisphere. The statue (which remains in place), was designed by its artist, Donald De Lue, to be “a heroic, forty-­three-­foot high


J a mes A r mstrong

bronze figure hurling a rocket heavenward with his right hand, and reaching for a constellation of gilded stars with his left.” The statue was based on “designs for the theme of ‘man conquering space,’ ” which De Lue had made a de­cade ­earlier for the Union Carbide building in Manhattan. De Lue described his sculpture as “the spiritual concept of man’s relationship to space and his venturesome spirit backed up by all the powers of his intelligence for the exploration of a new dimension.”54 ­Here was a distilled image of the “Triumph of Man,” whose ­future lay outward in the “New Frontier” of space. The statue implied that the work of the ­future would be to use ­human ­labor to expand the regime of modernity out into the solar system. This implies that the “space race” has as much to do with the economic dynamics of colonialism as it does with humanistic qualities like curiosity or a sense of adventure. As Édouard Glissant puts it, “Territory is defined by its limits, and they must be expanded.”55 Ironically, even as the Unisphere was depicting the earth as immutable stainless-­ steel scaffolding that would be managed for h­ uman profit and plea­sure, and would soon serve as a launching pad for the expanding ­human empire, geoscientists w ­ ere discovering a new “global view”—­one that would complicate the con­ve­nient abstractions of globalism and trou­ble the notion of stability that undergirded it. Far from a “stable platform,” the earth was a mutable body whose continents (welded into place in the Unisphere version) drifted over its surface like flotsam. Alfred Wegener had theorized in 1912 that the continents ­were adrift, but his idea had been dismissed ­because he could provide no cause. But in the 1950s researchers discovered a global mid-­ocean ridge, and this led to the discovery of seafloor spreading. By the 1960s, Wegener’s theory was vindicated, and geology left the notion of a static earth b­ ehind.56 The geophysical earth became an active agent, constantly in flux. At the same time, the comparatively young science of climatology was discovering that the earth’s climate system had gone through radical variations, from frozen ice ball to tropical hot­house. Scientists ­were discovering that the earth, far from a stable, unchanging backdrop, was a highly entangled network of feedback loops. The next de­cade would see the proposal of the Gaia theory, the rise of earth system science, and the rise of environmentalism. The vision of Earth as an abstract globe would soon be replaced by “The Blue Marble” photo­graph taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft. It is the most reproduced image in ­human history, and it would become the icon of environmentalists who would directly challenge modernism’s assumptions about the inevitable arrow of history. As Peter Westbroek puts it, “Ironically, t­ hose the pictures of earth from space marked the end of the general sense of promise and pro­gress. The sixties ­were winding down, and in ­those snapshots we now read a message of global vulnerability and h­ uman impotence. What w ­ ere we d­ oing to our planet?”57 Of course, now we cannot help but read the Unisphere and the optimistic narrative of pro­gress it represents in the context of the Anthropocene. In the more than fifty years since the World’s Fair, the global regimes of work it stood for have been revealed to be the source of increasingly dangerous climate change. This has

The Work of the Globe 143

presented society with a terrible irony. If unifying the world to enable the work of global industrial consumerism required distancing ourselves from the local, with its “particularities of contexts of presence,” the Anthropocene has confronted us with storms, droughts, and fires that threaten to reconnect us with locality in the fiercest way. Latour has said that while moderns believe they are engaged in a progressive liberation of themselves from their embeddedness, they have in fact been increasing their attachments to the world with alarming speed. It is in this sense that Latour sees the Anthropocene as a “global” prob­lem—he has called it “Atlas’s curse.” Globalized regimes of work have decimated the world’s commons and filled the atmosphere with dangerous levels of carbon dioxide—­but ­those implementing ­these global regimes and profiting from them are in denial about the consequences ­because the “globe” of globalization is an abstraction supremely impervious to climatic information. Global climate catastrophe is a form of cognitive dissonance for moderns b­ ecause it contradicts the notion of pro­gress at the core of modern belief. Climate change denial therefore becomes a dependable sign of the work of modernist ideology. As Latour puts it, “­Those who accuse ecol­ ogy of being too often catastrophist” and of indulging in “apocalyptic” discourse are ­those who, not content with having triggered catastrophes, have obfuscated the very notion of apocalypse.”58 Thus, the modern tendency to confuse the earth with a globe is a symptom of modernity’s longing to escape its dependence on the soil and the atmosphere of the planet. But the modernist urge to purge the earth of all local detail—­ subsuming it u­ nder an abstraction called “the globe”—­only blinds moderns to the ways in which their proj­ect is entangling them more deeply in the earth’s local, and increasingly vocal, pro­cesses. Although it is not always recognized in t­ hese terms, this entangling almost always involves problematizing the pro­cesses and norms of ­labor (as we see again and again in this volume). Faced with pos­si­ble civilization-­ ending climate change, moderns seem singularly incapable of “working on the prob­lem.” Latour claims that the Anthropocene is not, as the name might suggest, the final triumph of modernist history, but a horrifying moment of Oedipal discovery: what looked like pro­gress t­ oward a control of nature is in fact a monstrous “imbroglio,” a human/natural hybrid so chaotic and strange we seem unable to even recognize, or mobilize against its existential threat. We seem para­lyzed in the face of the Anthropocene ­because, Latour says, “we (the modernists) have a set of emotions and attitudes for following the first history (‘Forward, forward!’) but when we realize that the net result is clearly dif­fer­ent (‘Imbroglios, imbroglios!’) we are stuck. That is, we ­don’t have the ­mental, moral, aesthetic, emotional resources to follow through the attachments.” This volume emphasizes the way that such “­mental, moral, aesthetic, emotional” challenges play out specifically in terms of expectations around work, which are nearly always justified with recourse to ideas of pro­gress. When we realize that “pro­gress” leads to “imbroglios,” it requires us to rethink the core attributes of that ostensible pro­gress. This seems especially challenging when the implied new regime of work, the work of engaging with climate change in hopes


J a mes A r mstrong

of keeping the earth from becoming inhospitable to ­human civilization—­looks depressingly like the old, premodern regime of entanglement. Working to ameliorate the worst consequences of the Anthropocene might seem too much like accepting our dependence on the environment, b­ ecause “we have believed all along that we should be more and more emancipated from any attachment, ­free at last, liberated from the shackles of an archaic past!”59 To which Yusoff might reply, “Who do we mean by we’?” Horrific imbroglios are always already implied for ­those forcibly “disembedded” by the work of modernity from the seventeenth ­century on—­the slaves and Indigenous ­peoples upon whose ­labor, or through whose genocide, modernity was built. Yusoff says, “To be included in the ‘we’ of the Anthropocene is to be silenced by a claim to universalism that fails to notice its subjugations, taking part in a planetary condition in which no part was accorded in terms of subjectivity. The supposed ‘we’ further legitimates and justifies the racialized inequalities that are bound up in social geologies.”60 That is to say, to reembed the l­ abor regimes of modernity into history and locality would be to expose the way in which the telos of White emancipation was always predicated on a “global perspective” and a “global history” whose narrative did not include, or perhaps only belatedly acknowledged, the ways in which that telos was funded by “dehumanizing modes of subjection” that conjoined “the property and properties of ­matter in such a way that it collapse[d] the body politic of Blackness into the inhuman,” guaranteeing that “Blackness is marked as property and Whiteness is marked as freedom (po­liti­cal and geo­graph­ic­ al).”61 As it turns out, the Unisphere can be seen as marking modernity’s last point d’appui. We d­ on’t live on a “globe” anymore, we live in a biosphere, and if that is so, then we ­don’t have the same kind of f­uture. Latour has immersed himself in the “sphereology” of the phi­los­o­pher Peter Sloterdijk, who has called for us to reject the Platonism of our global obsession and replace it with a concept of protective envelopes. “Sloterdijk raises a set of very s­ imple, very h­ umble architectural questions,” Latour says: “Where are you residing when you say that you have a ‘global view’ of the universe? How are you protected from annihilation? What do you see? What air are you breathing? How do you keep warm, how do you dress, how do you eat?”62 Another way of putting this is to ask, “What is our work now?” If we no longer live on a stainless-­steel globe, but rather in an envelope that scientists call the “critical zone,” a “living, breathing, constantly evolving boundary layer where rock, soil, ­water, air, and living organisms interact,” how does that change the way we envision our l­abor regimes?63 From now on, our work must be grounded—it must cooperate with the larger regime of geophysical work, which Latour has described as “a ring of active life forms who have molded their many overlapping niches in such a way that they provide for each of them a series of envelopes that can in no way be stretched in the form of a res extensa . . . ​interlocking swarms of active entities: the thin pellicule of life forms; the resulting effect of all of them being to maintain a somewhat protective medium for f­ uture life forms.”64 We are not ­free, we are entangled.

The Work of the Globe 145

The earth is not, and never has been, a globe, Latour asserts. It is a thin “pellicule,” a skin a few meters thick that sustains our biological existence through feedback loops that are, Latour says, very “touchy.”65 This touchiness means that our modern princi­ples must be “reset” to reflect a new understanding of risk. To say that the world is “open to transformation, by h­ uman intervention” now must be interpreted in nonteleological terms. Many transformations are dangerous. That ­will challenge our blithe faith in “industrial production and a market economy” and force us, again, to reject a naïve belief in their unquestioned rationality, their inevitability (assumed by the logic of neoliberalism). This ­will also require a po­liti­cal adjustment, as Latour has called for a rethinking of po­liti­cal institutions to account for the po­liti­cal agency of our highly reactive planet. Science, technology, markets, and so on “have amplified, for at least the last two centuries, not only the scale at which h­ umans and nonhumans are connecting with one another in larger and larger assemblies, but also the intimacy with which such connections are made,” he has pointed out. Rather than revealing the Triumph of Man, moderns have accidentally “rendered more and more explicit the fragility of the life support systems that make . . . ​[their] ‘spheres of existence’ pos­si­ble.”66 Latour calls for a new po­liti­cal mobilization of ­those willing to live in the earth-­envelope and face up to its limits—­a true “post-­modern” polity that involves recognition of the complex imbroglios of the Critical Zone. Yusoff, for her part, has called for us to recall the repressed experience of the excluded and exploited o­ thers whom modernity employed in its construction of the globe; she holds up the “bold re­sis­tance” of their “poetry and spatial practices” that have served to “place, mark another pos­si­ble inhuman relation,” an “intimacy with the inhuman as an alliance with freedom in the ­matter and maroonage of imposed lands, to think freedom in the earth, outside and against the world of the ‘given’ humanist subject (and their space-­time).”67 She says that “noticing the meshwork of anti-­Blackness and colonial structures of the Anthropocene, which constitute the distinct underbelly to its origin stories, gives visibility to the material and bodily work that coercively carries the Anthropocene into being and challenges the narrative accounts of agency ­there within.”68 To do so might enable us to “alter how we think and imagine geological relations in nonextractive modes, to think about encountering the coming storm in ways that do not facilitate its permeant renewal.”69 For ­those who believe in the ideology of globalism, who trained to be globalism’s workers and man­ag­ers, sudden awareness of the increasing fragility of modern networks, of the anorexic thinness of modern ontologies, of the imprudence of modern denialism, comes as a rude awakening. For the Black and Brown laborers who have been exploited by the modern regime of work, for the Indigenous ­peoples whose land and resources have been extracted to fund it, that awareness is less surprising. The promised World’s Fair of modernity has always been built upon their backs, while the entrance fee has usually been beyond their reach—as has been the promised f­ uture of peace and prosperity. The Anthropocene challenges all of us to reconsider what our communal f­uture should be. If we are wise, and


J a mes A r mstrong

lucky, we ­will compose a dif­fer­ent vision for the nature of work. To do so, we must abandon the modern ideology of the inert, abstract globe, a con­ve­nient platform for the inevitable triumph of ever-­expanding markets; we must embrace instead the real­ity of a local, volatile, and finite planet; we must claim our identities as vulnerable “Earthlings” (to use Latour’s phrase), with an uncertain f­ uture and an inescapable connection to Earth’s touchy systems. Ben Dibley has memorably said, in his “Seven ­Theses on the Anthropocene and Attachment”: “With nowhere e­ lse to go, it is ‘Earthlings’ who must live on this planet, without the promise of pro­gress, but with the prospect of progressive change by which a world in common can come to be composed.”70

Notes 1. ​Lawrence R. Samuel, The End of the Innocence: The 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair (Syra-

cuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007), 30.

2. ​Samuel, xvii. 3. ​Samuel, 3. 4. ​Joseph Tirella, Tomorrow-­Land: The 1964–65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of Amer­i­ca

(Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2014), 11.

5. ​Tirella, 12. 6. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, xx. 7. ​Tirella, Tomorrow-­Land, 46. Tirella adds that “most of the United States’ western Eu­ro­pean

allies abstained from the fair.” 8. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, xx. 9. ​Samuel, xx. 10. ​Anthony Giddens, Conversations with Anthony Giddens: Making Sense of Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), 94. 11. ​ Official Guide: New York World’s Fair 1964–65 (New York: Time, Inc., 1964), 180. 12. ​ Official Guide, 180. 13. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, 18. 14. ​ Official Guide,180. 15. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, 19. 16. ​Bruno Latour, Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017), 130. 17. ​Latour, 130. 18. ​“Mappa mundi,” Wikipedia, accessed February  3, 2018, https://­en​.­wikipedia​.­org​/­wiki​ /­Mappa​_­mundi. For example, according to scholars who produced the Hereford Mappa Mundi, “Superimposed onto the continents are around 500 drawings of the history of humankind and the marvels of the natu­ral world, including some 420 cities and towns, 15 Biblical events, 33 plants, animals, birds and strange creatures, 32 images of the ­peoples of the world and 8 pictures from classical my­thol­ogy.” “Mappa Mundi,” A History of the World, BBC, 2014, http://­www​.b­ bc​.c­ o​.­uk​/­ahistoryoftheworld​/­objects​/­zrKd​-­Z0wS7CSYjB​_­DlRbrA. 19. ​Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990), 18–19. 20. ​Giddens, 18–19. 21. ​Giddens, 20. 22. ​Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2018), 13.

The Work of the Globe 147

23. ​Latour, 14. 24. ​Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (Ann Arbor: University Press of Michigan, 1997), 151,

quoted in Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018), 10. 25. ​Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes, 12. 26. ​Yusoff, 9. 27. ​Yusoff, 10. 28. ​Yusoff, 13. 29. ​Latour, Facing Gaia, 76. 30. ​Latour, 68. 31. ​Tirella, Tomorrow-­Land, 47. 32. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence,111. 33. ​Quoted in Tirella, Tomorrow-­Land, 54. 34. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, 107. 35. ​Tirella, Tomorrow-­Land, 206. 36. ​Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004). 37. ​ Official Guide, 10. 38. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, 117. 39. ​Sylvia Wynter, “Unparalleled Catastrophe for Our Species? Or, to Give Humanness a ­Dif­f er­ent F ­ uture: Conversations,” in Sylvia Wynter: On Being H ­ uman as Praxis, ed. Katherine McKittrick (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), quoted in Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes, 114. 40. ​Epaddon, “1964 World’s Fair: Travelers Insurance Exhibit—­‘The Triumph of Man,’ ” YouTube video, 11:22, July  12, 2016, accessed July  15, 2021, https://­www​.­youtube​.­com​/­watch​?­v​ =­SeSS3SILD9Q. 41. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, 157. 42. ​Samuel, 162. 43. ​Samuel, 163. 44. ​ Official Guide, 96. 45. ​“It’s a Small World: Walt Disney Rec­ords,” Lyr­ics​.­com, accessed April 22, 2022, https://­ www​.­lyr­ics​.­com​/­lyric​/­3103666​/­Disney​/­It%27s+a+Small+World+%28After+All%29. 46. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, 162. 47. ​Quoted in Samuel, 163. 48. ​Giddens, Consequences, 38. 49. ​British Pathé, New York World’s Fair 1964, YouTube video, 6:34, April  13, 2014, accessed June 15, 2021, https://­www​.­youtube​.­com​/­watch​?­v​=­MzhPghMdinQ&t​=3­ 4s. 50. ​Samuel, End of the Innocence, 18. 51. ​Latour, Facing Gaia, 80. 52. ​ Official Guide, 208. 53. ​Peter Westbroek, Life as a Geological Force: Dynamics of the Earth (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992), 20. 54. ​“Rocket Thrower,” NYC Parks: Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, City of New York, accessed March  20, 2018, www​.­nycgovparks​.­org​/­parks​ /­flushing​-m ­ eadows​-­corona​-­park​/­monuments​/­1363. 55. ​Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), quoted in Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes,10. 56. ​United States Geological Survey, “Developing the Theory,” This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics (online edition) (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2016), https://­pubs​.u­ sgs​.g­ ov​/­gip​/­dynamic​/­dynamic​.­html. 57. ​Westbroek, Life as a Geological Force, 20.


J a mes A r mstrong

58. ​Latour, Facing Gaia, 183. 59. ​Bruno Latour, “ ‘It’s Development, Stupid!’ or: How to Modernize Modernization,” 2008, 10,

http://­www​.b­ runo​-­latour​.­fr​/­sites​/­default​/­files​/­107​-­NORDHAUS%26SHELLENBERGER​.­pdf. 60. ​Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes, 12. 61. ​Yusoff, 66. 62. ​Latour, Facing Gaia, 122. 63. ​“The Critical Zone,” Critical Zone Observatories: USF National Program, accessed March 24, 2018, https://­czo​-­archive​.­criticalzone​.­org​/­national​/­research​/­the​-­critical​-­zone​-­1national​/­. 64. ​Bruno Latour, “On a Pos­si­ble Difference between Earth and the Globe,” Mosse Lecture on Future Knowledge, May  12, 2016, Humboldt University, Berlin. YouTube, uploaded by ­ Humboldt-­Universität zu Berlin, May  26, 2016, accessed June  15, 2021, https://­www​.­youtube​ .­com​/­watch​?­v​=u­ VCsUMxzWNg. 65. ​Latour, “On a Pos­si­ble Difference.” 66. ​Latour, “It’s Development, Stupid,” 3. 67. ​Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes, 85. 68. ​Yusoff, 104. 69. ​Yusoff, 104. 70. ​Ben Dibley, “ ‘The Shape of ­Things to Come’: Seven ­Theses on the Anthropocene and Attachment,” Australian Humanities Review, no. 52 (May 1, 2012), http://­australianhumanitiesreview​ .­o rg​ /­2012​ /­0 5​ /­01​ /­t he​-­s hape​ -­o f​ -­t hings​ -­to​ -­come​-­seven​ -­t heses​ -­o n​ -­t he​-­anthropocene​-­and​ -­attachment​/­.

7 ▶ LEISURE AND LIGHT WORK Coming of Age in Wendell Berry’s and Thomas Pynchon’s Novels of Extraction M AT T WA N AT


s lit­e r ­a­t ure of the Anthropocene, U.S. lit­er­a­ture ­ought to address extraction. Nevertheless, extraction as a framing concept pre­sents critical challenges, beginning with the concept of “American” itself. Responding to Amitav Ghosh’s 1992 New Republic review of Munif ’s Cities of Salt (1984), Graeme Macdonald notes that, in the case of “petrofiction,” the search for the “­Great American Oil Novel” is complicated ­because the oil novel has been largely “internationalized.”1 And beyond the definition of “American,” t­ here is the question of what constitutes “extraction.” Extraction of w ­ hale oil (Moby-­Dick [1851])? Of timber (B. Traven’s “Jungle Novels,” Annie Proulx’s Barkskins [2016])? Of natu­ral gas ( Jennifer Haigh’s Heat and Light [2016])? Of coal (an entire body of Appalachian lit­er­a­ture)?2 Depending on one’s emphasis, the American canon of extraction can become large and varied. Variety notwithstanding, new millennium writers seem drawn to extraction plots, adding to the renewed interest in classic petrofiction like Upton Sinclair’s 149


M at t Wa n at

Oil! (1927), along with hydraulic fracturing plots (see Haigh), the Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx’s historical epic of timber and empire Barkskins, and Ann Pancake’s mountaintop removal novel Strange as This Weather Has Been (2007).3 Likewise, given the centrality of petrochemicals and gas-­powered machines to industrial agriculture, it might be useful to include among late twentieth-­century and new millennium interests in extraction the new agrarianism of Wendell Berry, who has repeatedly shown in his fiction, poetry, and essays how boosters of industrial agriculture have declared farming “purely a commercial concern: its purpose [being] to provide as much food as quickly and cheaply and with as few man-­hours as pos­si­ble [while providing] a market for machines and chemicals.”4 Berry considers industrial agriculture an extractive industry of both soil and petroleum traceable to the exploiter mentality of Euro-­American presence, where the intention to exploit land, ­people, and natu­ral resources was “or­ga­ nized,” but accelerated by the industrial boom following World War II. As Berry argues in The Unsettling of Amer­ic­ a (1977), the petro-­industrial model “costs (by erosion) two bushels of Iowa topsoil to grow one bushel of corn,” where it is “estimated that from five to twelve calories of fossil fuel energy are required to produce one calorie of hybrid corn energy.”5 By contrast to this model, Berry’s nonfiction, poetry, and fiction all advocate for an ethics of sustainability and care in agriculture. On the surface, Thomas Pynchon might seem to have l­ittle in common with Berry. Whereas Pynchon is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest of a generation of postmodern novelists, Berry’s new agrarianism exemplifies regionalism more rooted and less sprawling than Pynchon’s every­thing everywhere narrative style. Yet an examination of new millennium novels by t­hese two authors uncovers in­ter­est­ing correspondences, particularly insofar as each novelist’s treatment of generational difference and coming of age plays consumer capitalism’s progressive dream of ­children “­doing better” than their parents out against the backdrop of exploitative extraction economies. A common feature of the consumer cap­it­ al­ist cultural narrative is that c­ hildren may, through education, geographic relocation, and technological innovation, ­labor less strenuously and enjoy greater wealth and leisure than their parents have. The comforts presumably afforded by education, relocation, and innovation are part of what Juliet B. Schor calls “one of capitalism’s most durable myths,” specifically the myth that capitalism “has reduced h­ uman toil.”6 To buy into this myth, Schor argues, is to imagine “medieval peasants, toiling from dawn to dusk” and “the journeyman artisan in a cold, damp garret, rising even before the sun, laboring by candlelight late into the night” (44). To buy into this myth is also to buy in general and to work longer hours for job security or to pay down debt from buying. Arguing against the notion that capitalism has reduced toil, Schor takes the “longer view” of “six or seven hundred” years, and by d­ oing so she reveals that “working hours ­under capitalism, at their peak, increased by more than 50 ­percent over what they had been in medieval times” (44).

Leisure and Light Work 151

Wendell Berry’s historical view is shorter than Schor’s, concentrating on the years during and following World War II. Nevertheless, t­ hese ­were years wherein, as Schor notes, “the pressure for longer hours was unstoppable” and “the manufacturing workweek r­ ose more than seven hours” (77). Berry’s geo­graph­i­cal view is narrower than Schor’s as well, concentrating on the agricultural community of Berry’s fictitious Port William. But the myth of light work and leisure depopulating Berry’s fictional Port William community is part of the cap­i­tal­ist industrial pro­gress myth Schor describes. For instance, Berry’s Hannah Coulter (2004) treats the dream of the younger generation’s f­ uture of light work and leisure as an ideology abetting the exploitation of places and the ­people who live ­there. Berry’s novels and shorts stories, set mostly during the rise of industrial agriculture in the second half of the twentieth c­ entury, broaden the definition of “extraction” in the Anthropocene to show how the supposed luxuries of fossil-­fuel farm innovation accelerate the extraction of both soil health and the younger population from rural communities. In the community of Port William, the dream of light work and leisure leads inevitably to new va­ri­e­ties of toil—­working to get ahead, working to get out. This dream of a so-­called better life also leads to the compartmentalization of leisure, abstracted from the often hard but also pleas­ur­able and rewarding care of place associated with agrarian living. In the case of Pynchon’s Against the Day (2006), the dysfunction of a mining ­family, the Traverses, dramatizes a variation on the tension between industry and communities presented by Hannah Coulter. In Pynchon’s novel the Traverse ­children lose their loyalty and rootedness, values abandoned to lives of obligatory education, incessant diversion, consumerist leisure, and endless wandering. As is the case in Hannah Coulter, in Pynchon’s novel job markets and an economic system divide the young from their parents, though Pynchon’s novel differs from Berry’s storytelling in many ways, not least of which in Pynchon’s direct reference to ­labor conflicts around mineral and resource extraction. Pynchon, like Berry, reads the quest of the young for leisure and lighter work as a ruse in the system ultimately leading to the degradation of both leisure and work, while dividing families and communities of workers. Nevertheless, compared with Berry’s accessible regionalist prose, Pynchon’s novel is both more sprawling in its numerous subplots and more complicated in its design, replicating formally through multiple episodic narrative digressions the evasion and diversion the novel satirizes in the Traverse c­ hildren. In fact, digression through work or play accounts for much of what divides the Traverse ­children from their labor-­activist ­father’s mission while, formally, Pynchon’s prose itself mirrors the digressive nature of its subplots, even shifting genre as the Traverse ­children stray over hundreds of pages. Though dif­fer­ent in many aspects of approach, and set during dif­fer­ent historical periods, Berry’s and Pynchon’s novels and stories collectively indicate a new millennium concern regarding the power of extractive industries and dreams of leisure and light work under­lying our assumptions about growing up. The myth of reduced toil under­lying consumer capitalism’s division of ­labor and commodities


M at t Wa n at

lies at the heart of both Berry’s and Pynchon’s social critiques, wherein both Berry’s Coulter ­family and Pynchon’s Traverse ­family suffer disintegration in the search of the young for a better life. In Berry’s critique, the Coulter ­children’s attempts to live better than their parents lead them away from the community sustaining interdependencies of agrarian culture. In Pynchon’s, the Traverse c­ hildren’s diversions, mirrored in the genre-­bending formal digressions of Pynchon’s novel itself, serve an industrial cap­it­al­ist system disempowering workers and severing social bonds. In both, ironically, dreams of leisure and light work serve to perpetuate the larger cultural logic of extraction, applied to ­people and places.

“A Better Chance”: Wendell Berry and Hannah Coulter Wendell Berry’s stories and novels might at first seem an unlikely place to situate ­labor and leisure in a discussion of extraction. Berry’s fictional Port William is the Kentucky of farming, not of drilling or mining. Nevertheless, Jason W. Moore has demonstrated how fundamental regimes of agriculture are to a larger cultural logic of extraction.7 Like Moore, Berry characterizes fossil fuels as a catalyst for changes in agriculture and culture. Specifically, Berry writes eloquently and often on the growth of industrial agriculture, growth driven by the extraction and use of coal and oil. Similarly, Berry writes about the effects of industrial agriculture upon rural communities. In the essay “Energy and Agriculture,” Berry writes it “was the growth of technology for the production and use of fossil fuel energy” that abetted a “curious set of assumptions . . . ​about ‘pro­gress,’ ” namely, that “if you could get into a profession, it was assumed then of course you must not be a farmer; if you could move to the city, then you must not stay in the country; if you could farm more profitably in the corn b­ elt than on the mountainsides . . . ​then mountainsides . . . ​must not be farmed.”8 The consequences of ­these industrial efficiencies wrought by fossil-­fuel technologies (automation, commercial petrochemicals) are many. They include depopulation of rural places deemed marginal, resettlement of rural places through suburbanization, separation of citizens from the production of food, and decline in “membership,” which is Wendell Berry’s term for mutually beneficial communities of laborers working together in accordance with place, scale, and the interdependencies among ­human and biotic communities.9 According to Berry, one of the most startling features of an industrial economy based on nonrenewable resources lies in its effects upon the young. This is true insofar as the “ ‘miracle’ of industrial pro­gress” is achieved primarily through “the theft of energy from . . . ​our ­children.”10 Berry writes that inexpensively available fossil fuels are “the real foundation of our pro­gress and our affluence,” adding, “the reason that we are a rich nation . . . ​is simply that we have learned, and become willing, to market and use up in our time the birthright and livelihood of posterity” (59). But the fossil-­fuel economy also affects ­children another way. Aforementioned assumptions of the fossil-­fuel economy—­that “profession” trumps farming, that flight

Leisure and Light Work 153

to the city trumps rural rootedness, that “corn ­belt” monoculture and large-­scale production trump small-­scale agriculture fitted to a par­tic­u­lar place—­become a force pulling young p­ eople away from farming and an appreciation for the local. The pulling away of Port William’s members provides the conflict in several of Berry’s novels and short stories, but perhaps the most in­ter­est­ing of Berry’s treatments of this pulling away from the work of the farm occurs in the novel Hannah Coulter. ­Here narrator Hannah’s and her husband Nathan’s three c­ hildren—­M. B., Caleb, and Margaret—­leave the farm and the farm community for what one of Berry’s chapter titles calls “A Better Chance.”11 The Coulter c­ hildren’s leaving is, in typical fashion of a generation that reached adulthood during or ­after World War II, encouraged by Hannah’s assumption that the job of a parent is to give her ­children better lives than the one she has had—­“I, who never went to college, was desperate for my c­ hildren to go to college”—­but once her ­children have gone to college, Hannah finds they have also gone out of the membership: It just never occurred to ­either of us that we would lose them that way. The way of education leads away from home. That is what we learned from our c­ hildren’s education. The big idea of education, from first to last, is the idea of a better place. Not a better place where you are, ­because you want it to be better and have been to school and learned to make it better, but a better place somewhere ­else. In order to move up, you have to move on.12

While at least one of the ­children, Margaret, never shows signs of being “embarrassed by [her] parents and by [her] rural background” (116), all three of the Coulter kids’ adult lives become abandonments of membership. In college, Mattie Coulter, who comes to be called “M. B.,” makes his f­ ather “proud” but “skeptical” (123). When M. B. becomes interested in “communications technology,” Nathan asks, “Communications of what?” eventually giving M. B. “up to what­ever he was ­going to do” (123). M. B.’s ­doing turns out to be an entrance into the executive class of the West Coast, where he becomes “CEO, as he puts it, of an information-­processing com­pany whose name is made of letters that d­ on’t spell anything” (123). With “four c­ hildren by two wives,” kids who, when visiting the Coulter farm, “­don’t know where they are,” M. B. embodies a state of wandering, abstraction, and ambiguous work (124). Never an enthusiastic farmer, M. B. forsakes Port William for a world of money and freedom from the supposed toil of agriculture, but from Hannah’s point of view his happiness seems dubious, and we never get to see what comforts or pleasures M. B. has gotten by trading away his membership. Instead, we see M. B. become a very impor­tant man harried to the point of nearly missing his f­ ather’s funeral (165). Opposite M. B., Caleb loves farming (126). Nevertheless, Caleb’s “scholarship in the college of agriculture” leads him to the title of “Dr. Coulter,” agricultural


M at t Wa n at

ethos Caleb employs not in farming, but rather by “teaching agriculture to fewer and fewer students who w ­ ere actually g­ oing to farm” (131). With “ ‘publications,’ written in the Unknown Tongue,” Caleb wants to make his parents proud, but reading Caleb’s publications, Hannah says, “I ­can’t hear Caleb talking in them” (132). It might be objected that the pulling away Hannah describes as traumatic for the parents need not necessarily be so for M. B. and Caleb themselves. It is clear, however, that Berry uses M. B.’s and Caleb’s self-­exile from membership as a satirical lens through which to view the con­temporary condition of industrial consumer culture. Hannah states in the “Caleb” chapter that farmer Nathan “hated the idea of working for a boss” (132), and friend Andy Catlett tells Hannah, “­You’re worried b­ ecause ­they’ve left the membership” (133). Both instances reinforce fears that Berry invites readers to share. Berry’s novel demonstrates that, with college and moving away, as well as all the advantages this now-­obligatory American lifestyle holds, comes a loss of in­de­pen­dence and connection to a community of workers who ­labor, not for a boss or to pay creditors, but for one another. This community of workers values care over commodity. As Hannah explains, “The work was freely given in exchange for work freely given. Th ­ ere was no bookkeeping, no accounting, no settling up” (93). The profession pulling Margaret Coulter away is teaching, which takes the Coulters’ ­daughter to Louisville, where she marries, and then divorces, a man named Marcus. Hannah calls Margaret and Marcus “smart” ­because they wisely utilize the land Margaret inherits in Port William rather than jeopardizing it to finance their Louisville home (137). But Margaret and her son Virgie, both of whom love to visit Port William at first, eventually grow apart from it (139), and Margaret’s marriage soon falls apart when Marcus decides he loves a younger ­woman (140). As Hannah claims while discussing Marcus’s infidelity, “The time wants men to be as silly in character as they are by nature,” a comment that demonstrates an essentialist view of roaming masculinity, for sure, but also offers a criticism of “The time” (142). By “The time,” Hannah seems to mean the time the world uprooted itself, straying from responsibilities to ­people and places in ­favor of personal gratification. As it is put by Nathan, a farmer who is rarely bored with his work and rarely untired enough to find himself restless, “It would have been better for Marcus if he had been tireder at night” (142). The slow vio­lence of the work norms for which the Coulter ­children have left the farm work of Port William is mirrored by the erosion of f­amily relationships in Berry’s novel. Indeed, this slow vio­lence breaks homes. Data about postwar changes in the nature of work is telling h­ ere. Juliet B. Schor observes that while the “level of productivity of the U.S. worker has more than doubled” since 1948, American workers “did not use any of the productivity dividend to reduce hours.”13 Schor notes that 1990 American owner­ship and consumption was on average double that of 1948, yet Americans had “less ­free time” (2). Meanwhile, David Graeber adds to the disappointing failure of John Maynard Keynes’s 1930 prediction that technological automation would lead to a “15-­hour work

Leisure and Light Work 155

week” that not only do Americans now work more, rather than less, but many work jobs they consider “utterly meaningless.”14 Keeping t­ hese post–­World War II ­labor developments in mind, it is pos­si­ble, as Nathan does, to speak for work without necessarily speaking against leisure, especially when one acknowledges that some kinds of work are more rewarding than o­ thers and that the post–­World War II commodification of leisure has not led to more leisure time but rather to more, and in many cases less rewarding, work. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “leisure” as “freedom from time-­ consuming duties, responsibilities, or activities.”15 And though the word “leisure” in our industrial and postindustrial economies has come to mean plea­sure taken apart from the obligations of work, one salient feature of Berry’s Port William membership is the degree to which members find leisure-­like plea­sure in their work, as well as the degree to which work, ­family, community, leisure, faith, and any number of other ele­ments of life compartmentalized by the industrial economy are in Port William considered part of a holistic existence. In other words, the membership undermines the labor/leisure distinction, along the lines argued by Amanda Adams (chapter 8), Jennifer K. Ladino (chapter 9), and ­others in section 3 of this volume. Therefore, when Nathan says that his ex-­son-­in-­law ­ought to have “been tireder at night,” it is not so much that Nathan is opposing Marcus’s leisure—­ indeed, Nathan’s own son M. B. seems to do nothing but work for “a better chance.” Rather, Nathan suggests that Marcus might be both more tired and more satisfied in general if he did work that was more meaningful. That Marcus is a teacher,16 rather than a hedge-­fund man­ag­er, arms dealer, or game-­show host, demonstrates the degree to which Berry’s critique of industrial culture extends. Berry not only criticizes abstract and socially unhelpful jobs, which Graeber’s essay and book call “Bullshit Jobs.”17 Berry also criticizes the very cultural compartmentalization that makes ­labor ­little more than a financially compensated chore and leisure a r­ unning away from responsibility.18 On the relationship between l­abor and leisure in Berry’s work, Kimberly  K. Smith notes that Berry’s “emphasis on the role of l­abor in teaching us our proper relationship to the natu­ral world leaves us without a good reason . . . ​to stop working.”19 In Berry’s Port William membership, work is not some everyday trial for which one is awarded currency to spend in the pursuit of consumerist leisure; rather, work itself, perhaps better thought of as care for place and for membership, is pleasurable—­necessary, yes, but also communal, rewarding, physically and psychologically engaging. Again, this vision of work jibes with chapters in section 3 of this volume. Likewise, while in agreement with Smith about the rewards of certain kinds of work, Ethan Mannon also recognizes in Berry’s fiction the “leisure ethic” that Smith finds lacking, and Mannon locates this cele­bration of leisure with the recurring character Burley Coulter.20 According to Mannon, Berry’s positive attitude ­toward Burley, a non-­landowner in Port William prone to drinking, long hunting excursions, joking, and general Bakhtinian upheaval, rests partly in Burley’s support for the membership.21 When the narrator and title character of


M at t Wa n at

Hannah Coulter states, “This was our membership. Burley called it that,” Berry makes clear that, though playful and apt to wander the woods, Burley may be one of the primary advocates for mutually interdependent community and the work it does.22 Even more telling than Burley’s esteem for membership are the activities and ­things that Burley’s leisure-­seeking forgoes: His leisure does not require speeding down a river or an interstate while the adjacent countryside blurs by. Along with its deliberate pace, Burley’s leisure generally places him in the role of producer. He does not fill his ­free time by purchasing consumer goods and experiences. Instead, Burley makes his own entertainment and, in the pro­cess, produces other “goods”: m ­ usic from his fiddle and food from his fishing. . . . ​Fi­nally, Burley’s leisure never threatens his place in the community—he subordinates his leisure to the membership. In fact, much of his leisure ingratiates him to his fellow members and secures his place among them. Through Burley Coulter, then, Berry outlines leisure as occasionally degraded, but almost constantly local, deliberate, self-­made and productive, and communal.23

Opposite Burley’s local and communal leisure, the pulling away of Nathan and Hannah’s c­ hildren, then, represents not a greater life of leisure, nor a life f­ ree from the toil of farm ­labor. Rather, the pulling away of M. B., Caleb, and Margaret represents what Hannah calls “amputations,” dismemberments not in the corporeal sense, but in the sense of severance from a membership wherein l­abor, leisure, love, security, and connectedness all coexist sans compartmentalization.24

Against the Day: The Traverse Scabs Come of Age Published two years ­after Hannah Coulter, Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day is in most ways strikingly dif­fer­ent from the Berry novel. Whereas Hannah Coulter is a short novel focused on a single narrator’s life in an agrarian community, Against the Day clocks in at 1,085 pages, with dozens of characters in multiple, sometimes unclearly related plotlines. One plotline, which John Clute calls the “Airship Boys cluster,” features boy dime-­novel balloonists the Chums of Chance, whereas another Clute calls the “Western revenge cluster” makes up the bulk of the Traverse ­family plot.25 Professor Vanderjuice and Detective Lew Basnight encounter both the Chums of Chance and the Traverses,26 yet t­ hese two plots often remain separate, for example, with Chums’ adventures serving as dime-­novel reading for one of the Traverse ­children.27 This narrative move accounts for just one of the metafictional strategies of Pynchon’s book, which also includes genre shifting. Nevertheless, while the Traverse ­family saga is only one of the book’s many complicated plotlines, the storyline of miner/Anarchist dynamiter Webb Traverse’s murder and the response of his wife, Mayva, and their four c­ hildren—­daughter Lake and sons Frank, Kit, and Reef—­accounts for hundreds of pages of Pynchon’s

Leisure and Light Work 157

book and can itself be read as a coherent narrative of mining, u­ nion conflict, and generational difference. Therefore, Against the Day can be read according to postmodern conventions—­metafictional slips, self-­conscious foregrounding of popu­ lar genre, magical realist and science fiction juxtapositions of time and subject ­matter—­but also can be read in certain subplots according to mostly realistic or formulaic narrative conventions. For example, much of the Traverse plot can be read according to conventions of the l­abor novel and vari­ous subgenres of the Western. The historical backdrop for Pynchon’s novel begins with the late nineteenth-­ century explosion of science and technology alongside mineral extraction economies and experiments with photography and electricity—­Nikola Tesla, for example, is a character—­and the Traverse f­ amily drama is situated at both the nexus of historical conflict around the treatment of western miners and the nexus of industry’s attempts to exploit scientific invention and the scientists d­ oing the work.28 In both mining and science ele­ments, Pynchon tells a story of laborers versus ­owners and the means by which o­ wners like the plutocrat Scarsdale Vibe, the novel’s wealthiest villain, maintain their power. With its emphasis on Scarsdale Vibe as a cap­i­tal­ist manipulator of ­labor ranging from miners to research scientists to natu­ral pro­cesses themselves, Against the Day’s extraction theme goes beyond the category of Anthropocene to a more specific indictment of the Capitalocene, the term by which Moore attempts to “register the bloody history of [the] Human/Nature binary.”29 For Moore, the Human/Nature binary, even when used by well-­meaning environmentalists, reinforces a false opposition, not only b­ ecause humanity is inseparable from nature but also ­because the history of h­ uman exploitation of nature is replete with instances in which “from the perspective of imperial administrators, merchants, planters, and conquistadores,” most h­ umans have been excluded “from Humanity” (79), precisely the kind of exclusion treated by Ryan Hediger’s essay on slavery (chapter 3 in this volume). As Moore notes, the binary by which “Humanity” is accused of negatively transforming “Nature” downplays or ignores how large groups of ­humans have been “regarded as part of Nature, along with trees and soils and rivers—­and treated accordingly” (79). Through his vast reach into the lives his employees, Vibe represents the face of late nineteenth-­century global imperialism, with the gold, silver, zinc, and coal mines of Colorado being just one tentacle of Vibe’s reach, which also includes attempts to profit by experiments in electricity and from racist exploitation in the diamond mines of South Africa. “Soon ­after his arrival in Johannesburg,” Scarsdale’s son Fleetwood murders a South African worker for stealing: “­There was a story that [Fleetwood Vibe] shot a coolie, but the other story was that it was a Kaffir he had caught stealing a diamond, and that he had given the Kaffir a choice, to be shot or to step into a mine shaft half a mile deep.”30 It is fitting that Pynchon should name Webb Traverse’s own ­father “Cooley” (105), connecting the exploitation of South African laborers to the exploitation of Colorado miners, and lest the


M at t Wa n at

connection be lost in the plenum of the work, Pynchon reiterates the connection to African imperialism when the Colorado strikers are treated like colonial subjects, with the “National Guard up by the pass shooting off their cannon to keep the natives in line” (192). With connections across cultures and geographic space, Pynchon characterizes the Vibe ­family as administrators of Capitalocene logic, whereby South African mineral extraction, Colorado coal and mineral extraction, and the exploitation of “coolie,” “Kaffir,” and Colorado miner are squeezed by tentacles of the same systematic beast. Alongside more violent crimes, Vibe also spends much of his time buying ­people, treating every­one around him as objects from which to extract value. This begins with Vibe’s assistant, Foley Walker, who as a paid “substitute” serves for Vibe in the Civil War and adds to Vibe’s “profit curve.”31 Talking to Webb’s son Kit Traverse, Foley describes the paid substitutions as part of a larger Marxist explanation of ­labor exploitation: “Eternal youth bought with the sickness and death of ­others” (104). Upset that Kit has agreed to work for Vibe in exchange for a Yale education, ­union man Webb puts it to his son more succinctly—­“They own you”—­and in Webb’s mind, Vibe’s owning Kit is also a means of owning Webb: “­They’re trying to buy my f­amily away,” Webb tells his son (105). As in Hannah Coulter, ­here too the extractive economy mirrors and begets extraction of loved ones from the home. Scarsdale Vibe’s means of maintaining power, as is the case with cultural hegemony in general, are both violently coercive and designed to encourage consent. Instead of killing Webb’s f­ amily, Vibe opts for a “monthly stipend” to the w ­ idow and her d­ aughter, a “high-­paying job” for the mine engineer son Frank, a “modest jackpot” for the gambler son Reef, and funding the academic endeavors of the young scholar Kit (334–335), buying Kit off with a “Lieutenants of Industry Scholarship Program” (100). “Some might call this corrupting youth,” says another voice to Foley, in apparent agreement with Webb’s notion that Vibe’s buying Kit means buying Kit away from Webb (335). Indeed, if many of the Pynchonian digressions within the Traverse plot cohere, it is by virtue of their collectively representing the corrupting of Webb’s ­children, pulling the c­ hildren away from Webb’s most impor­tant lesson to them, words they “­won’t hear . . . ​in school,” but ­will find printed on Webb’s ­union card: “­Labor produces all wealth. Wealth belongs to the producer thereof” (93). The Traverse ­children’s deviations from Webb’s lesson about ­labor and the rights of workers vary from outright disavowals to adventurous diversions. Nevertheless, in the cases of all four c­ hildren, deviations from Webb’s mission are accompanied by narrative digressions, which pull the Traverse c­ hildren away from Westerns’ generic imperatives of revenge as ­these digressions also pull the ­children away from their ­family and community of laborers. Though not one of the Traverse ­family is rooted in place to the degree that characters in Berry’s Hannah Coulter are, the overwhelming message of the novel with regard to the Traverse c­ hildren is that they have strayed from their home, their community, and their values. Likewise, though not ­every one of the Traverse c­ hildren’s leaving resembles the economy’s pulling

Leisure and Light Work 159

away of the Coulter ­children in Hannah Coulter, Frank and Kit are initially set up, like M.  B. and Caleb Coulter, respectively, as c­ hildren drawn away from their parents by business and education. Frank Traverse, in par­tic­ul­ar, abandons Webb’s mission in ways closely resembling the Coulter c­ hildren leaving the farm. In response to his f­ather’s lessons about ­labor, Frank chooses mine engineering, a professional life less laborious, though Frank at first avoids Vibe Corp, which has “spirited away his ­brother Kit.”32 Frank is enraged when he learns that his f­ ather has been murdered by Deuce Kindred and Sloat Fresno (312), and it is Frank who eventually kills Sloat, but far from arising from a drive to avenge his f­ ather, Frank’s encounter with Sloat occurs accidentally, by Frank’s looking through Iceland Spar (391), a calcite crystal at the center of the novel’s fantasy themes about double refraction and alternate realities (983–984). Before discovering Sloat, Frank’s initial fury over Webb’s death dissipates amid multiple diversions, ranging from ­music (Frank becomes a Galandronome player [315]) to mining engineering proj­ects involving magnetism (he is called a “Mine-­Schooler with his head full of magnets” [298]) to frequent leisure activities (he eats a steak that is “half a cubic foot” [289]) to encounters with mythical mine-­dwelling “tommyknockers” (297, 301). In light of ­these digressions, one might accuse Pynchon of not caring for the historical realities at the center of his novel’s ­labor politics w ­ ere it not for the narrator’s reminding the reader that such examples of episodic mayhem are indeed diversions, perhaps pleas­ur­able as fabulation in their own right, but also harmful to Frank’s purpose. As the narrator didactically reminds readers at one point, the digressive and super­natural series of events befalling Frank have “nothing even remotely to do with Deuce Kindred and Sloat Fresno” (289).33 Even when Frank joins up with the Mexican Revolution, presumably a place where de­mo­li­tion skills inherited from his ­father might be of use against tyrants, his stay in Mexico falls somewhere between floundering and tourism, involving “months that seemed like years traipsing to no purpose around an empty shadowmap, a dime novel of Old Mexico” (374). At one point held in a “Mexican hoosegow,” Frank Traverse finds not horrors of prison life but rather something absurdly resembling a spa: “Down h­ ere workaday anx­ie­ ties w ­ ere brushed away, while opportunities for recreation went ever unfolding” (380). The contradictory ridiculousness of the “workaday anx­i­eties”-­freeing “hoosegow” encourages one to see Frank’s escapades for the escapism they are. Indeed, combined with Frank’s aforementioned occupational goals of avoiding unremitting ­labor, his escapades tempt one to see in his Mexico journeys an analogue for what he might do in ­middle management for Vibe—­that is, ­little or nothing or what in an interview about his book, David Graeber calls capitalism’s endless production of “bullshit white-­collar jobs, which are designed to make you identify with the sensibilities of man­ag­ers.”34 What better meta­phor for “Capitalism’s Endless Busywork” than Frank’s entropic state of preoccupation, which equals purposelessness and disor­ga­ni­za­tion.


M at t Wa n at

Frank’s Mexico adventures are such a digression from heroic purpose that he must be told in a dream by his adversary Deuce Kindred, “I a­ in’t ­here.”35 Frank eventually returns to the “battleground” of Colorado mining conflicts where, in Cripple Creek, he sees evidence that “the ­owners have won” (466) and where, during the 1913 Colorado Coalfield War, Frank sees “­Mother Jones herself ” (996, 1004) before helping his ­brother Reef ’s wife and son, Jesse, escape the Ludlow Massacre (1014–1015). But Frank is beaten to the assassination of Scarsdale Vibe by Vibe’s assistant Foley (1006), and he never finds Deuce Kindred at all, making Frank’s adventures throughout the many pages of Against the Day largely digressive. Although the far-­flung adventures Pynchon affords Frank are often absurd compared with the rootedness of Berry’s Hannah Coulter in both autodiegetic perspective and place, the satirical point regarding youthful wanderlust in the two novels is similar: just as Caleb and M. B. in Hannah Coulter exchange rootedness in community and soil for lives of academic and corporate abstraction, Frank Traverse in Against the Day strays from the material realities of an upbringing stressing the ­labor and consequences of extraction. Unlike Berry’s more straightforward narrative style, Pynchon’s explodes into a series of subplots both floundering at the level of Frank’s sense of purpose and fanciful at the level of narrative, but Pynchon’s narrative digressions are, metafictionally speaking, part of the same satire as Berry’s, taking Frank into places and plots of increasing irrelevancy. Like Frank’s travels, the travels of his ­brothers Kit and Reef are predominated by narrative digression and personal diversion. For Kit, Yale turns out to be a “high-­ hat technical school” (318), and Kit is warned by Foley that taking Vibe’s scholarship amounts to “paid conscription” (103). Kit seems to recognize the waste created by such a privilege. For instance, whereas at one point Frank self-­deprecatingly calls himself a “penny-­ante remittance man,” Kit ­later, ­after a Maughamian “pilgrimage” through Eurasia, directs a similar insult at Scarsdale’s son Fleetwood, whom Kit calls “a remittance man with too much sense of privilege” (207, 790). But if Kit recognizes the privilege in Fleetwood, and even in himself, this recognition does not stop Kit from enjoying typical college-­novel debauchery at Yale followed by increasingly far-­fetched adventures overseas. As is the case with Frank, many of Kit’s adventures are active and dangerous, involving, in a super­natural spy thriller subplot, his protecting his paranormal consort Yashmeen Halfcourt from Rus­sian predators (631), but Kit responds to one of t­ hese dangers by saying, “It’ll be fun” (632), and sarcasm notwithstanding, Kit’s travels seem marked largely by personal diversion, taking him far from his home and f­ amily. Though Kit and Reef, meeting accidentally in Eu­rope, engage in an ill-­fated attempt to kill Scarsdale Vibe (669, 673), much of Kit’s movement in the novel is evasion coupled with fear of being exploited. Warned by Professor Vanderjuice, as elsewhere Foley has warned him, that “­those [whom Vibe Corp] may not at the moment harm, they corrupt” (323), and elsewhere warned by his mentor Tesla that corporate sponsors do not understand science (327), Kit lives life in fear not only of Vibe’s vio­lence but also of Vibe’s attempts to make him the

Leisure and Light Work 161

“next Edison,” rather than a Tesla—­that is, to make Kit a scientist in the ser­vice of business profitability rather than inquiry (331). Even more so than Frank’s Mexico escapades, Kit’s Eurasian attempts to avoid Vibe resemble a m ­ iddle man­ag­er staying ­under the com­pany radar. In the case of Reef—­who is considered “reckless” opposite Frank’s “reasonable” character (667), and who lacks Kit’s scholarly potential—­Webb’s Anarchist ways seem inevitable, and although Reef thinks himself “entitled to a regular ­human life,” he soon takes up where Webb leaves off as dynamiter (361). Having been the son who brought his ­father’s body back for burial (209–218), Reef is the logical choice to enact revenge on his ­father’s behalf. But Reef’s rambling lifestyle of dynamite and gambling also reveals many of the undercurrents of the novel’s formula Western assumptions about revenge and regeneration insofar as Reef ’s taking up the mantel of Webb becomes not so much a restoration of working-­class power as an abandonment of Reef ’s wife Stray and son Jesse (366). Indeed, Reef ’s thirst for revenge amounts to nothing but drifting and philandering, returning frequently, over the course of six hundred pages, to the “sad routine” of Reef ’s repeat encounters with the vapid socialite Ruperta Chirpington-­Groin (367, 656, 801). Like Frank and Kit, Reef fails the ­family, fails his class, and fails his home, responding to one of Kit’s compliments by struggling to say, “What the f-ck are you talking about? . . . ​I did every­thing wrong. I ran away from my baby son and the w ­ oman I loved” (852). And as is the case with the travels of Frank and Kit, Reef ’s adventures represent absurd formal and generic digressions. In Reef ’s case ­these digressions include fighting super­natural Tatzelwurms at an Alpine train-­tunnel proj­ect (655), being wounded in a terrorist bombing (no small irony) while arguing he is not “bourgeois” (850), and becoming part of a geopo­liti­cal thriller subplot that crosses paths with Franz Ferdinand on the eve of the G ­ reat War (871). As is the case with his siblings, a voice of opposition, in Reef ’s case an apparent ghost haunting Alpine train tunnels, chastises Reef for incessant diversions, telling him, first, “You have a wife and child to look ­after and a ­father to avenge” and, second, “What happened to you? You w ­ ere a promising young dynamiter, your f­ather’s son, sworn to alter the social terrain, and now y­ ou’re hardly much better than the ­people you used to want to blow up. Look at them. Too much money and idle time, too ­little f-­cking compassion” (660). Like Frank and Kit, Reef flounders in his mission, but the editorial complaint about Reef’s inaction, from a tommyknocker parody of Hamlet’s Ghost, also raises the question, “What mission?” In Hannah Coulter, Berry’s worldview and relative didacticism make clear that, no ­matter what the complexities of shifting contexts, “the membership” of Port William merits protecting. In Against the Day, however, confusion abounds as to what the Traverse c­ hildren ­ought to be ­doing. Should they take care of their mom? Should they s­ ettle in a mining community? Should they be loyal ­union members? Should they be mine saboteurs? While the editorial ghost accuses Reef both of abandoning his wife and child and of abandoning avenging his ­father, it should be added that Reef’s abandonment of wife and child is


M at t Wa n at

precisely ­because he has taken up the mantel of u­ nion dynamiter from his dad. Certainly, Against the Day, like the Berry novel, is structured to satirize the floundering and pulling away of the young from community and purpose, but, compared with the situation in Hannah Coulter, the situation Against the Day’s plot offers the Traverse ­children is impossibly complex, with the sheer copiousness of distractions in the novel amounting to an entropic descent into complication, if not total chaos. Nowhere is the difficulty of calling the Traverse c­ hildren ­simple traitors rendered more problematic than with Lake Traverse, Webb’s d­ aughter, especially insofar as Lake’s pulling away is partly driven by her psychologically vexed relationship with her ­father. With the gunman Deuce Kindred, Lake finds herself “easily ridden in on by unannounced passions,” voluntarily involved in a torrid relationship with her ­father’s murderer, then marrying Deuce and adding Deuce’s homicidal partner Sloat Fresno to the bedroom routine.36 ­Earlier in the novel, ­after Lake leaves home at one point and comes back with unaccountable money, Webb disowns his d­ aughter, saying, “­Don’t run no shelter for whores h­ ere” (190). This ­earlier conflict between Lake and her ­father joins Lake’s ­later sexual escapades to suggest that Lake’s siding with her f­ather’s killers comes from a conflict over her sexual autonomy, from sexual hedonism on her part, or from both. Added to ­these are other pos­si­ble reasons for Lake’s abandoning her ­father’s mission, including her sense of his having chosen the u­ nion over his own kin: “He had his almighty ­union,” Lake tells her ­mother, “that’s what he loved. If he loved anything” (190). In any case, by virtue of Webb’s unjust treatment of Lake, t­ here is no easy condemnation of the ­daughter’s turning her back on the patriarch. Nevertheless, as he does in the case of her b­ rothers’ many subplots, Pynchon characterizes Lake’s betrayal with a shift not only of Lake’s be­hav­ior but also of the very genre of the Traverse plot. The Traverse f­ amily saga starts as a l­ abor Western, reminiscent of novels like Oakley Hall’s Warlock (1958).37 In Lake’s subplot, however, the genre soon becomes sadomasochistic erotica, with Lake’s sexual relationship with her f­ ather’s killers, “a three-­party ­house­hold of dubious coziness,” suggesting both vio­lence against her f­ ather’s memory and her own vulnerability to two notoriously dangerous men, alongside a film noir ele­ment suggesting their vulnerability to her.38 As is the case with her b­ rother Reef, whose Webb-­like dynamiting does not so much restore f­ amily and community as pull him away from it, Lake’s be­hav­ior and ­family history complicate any facile notions of the Traverse ­children’s ­family obligations by raising the specters of vio­lence associated with Webb’s fatherhood and activism, by characterizing the ­daughter’s position in the societal patriarchy and generic landscape as dif­fer­ent from her b­ rothers’, and by showing the interconnections of protagonists (the Traverses) and antagonists (their f­ ather’s killers) within the entangled tendrils of the Vibe Corp global oligarchy. In this re­spect, Against the Day does not so much fail to advocate for action against the Capitalocene as it dramatizes the mess of always finding oneself fighting for justice from within the system. The Traverse c­ hildren, like their f­ather, do not fight or fail to

Leisure and Light Work 163

fight Vibe by standing outside of Vibe’s reach. Rather, every­thing they do, like all activity for or against the Capitalocene, occurs within the system’s vast power. In spite of the Coulter ­children’s self-­exile from the Port William membership, Hannah Coulter ends heroically with Hannah telling a developer her plan to put her farm “into a land trust, to keep it from ever being developed.”39 Berry’s novel also ends with Virgie, Hannah’s grand­son who has been missing and apparently using drugs, turning up at Hannah’s and a neighboring farm, where he is taken in and given work, suggesting that the membership remains open even a­ fter it has been forsaken (181–185). In the world of Against the Day, however, what­ever optimism exists at the end is tempered by irony and foreboding. The Traverse sons re­unite, accompanied by ­women and c­ hildren, and Frank becomes his nephew Jesse’s surrogate ­father u­ ntil both he and Jesse are re­united with Reef.40 New babies are born (1075, 1076), Anarchists lurk h­ ere and ­there, in positions ranging from U.S. immigration officer to high school teacher (1074–75, 1076), and the novel ends with Professor Vanderjuice, one of the academics exploited by Vibe Corp, being rescued by the dime-­novel Chums of Chance, with their balloon flying “­toward grace” (1080, 1085). But the ­family re­unites into the “­middle of the Red Scare” (1075), and, more mysteriously, via the gumshoe character Lew Basnight, the plot travels into the seediness of a hard-­boiled detective story.41 Lew Basnight is mostly d­ oing “ ‘industrial security,’ a term for breaking the heads” of potential strikers, when an investigation of the reappearance of a w ­ oman previously presumed dead brings him to a ­house where he encounters Lake Traverse, living as “Mrs. Deuce Kindred,” but now also playing the hard-­boiled femme fatale (1051). Meanwhile, Deuce, like Lew, works “Security” hoping to keep “Anarchists from trying to start ­unions” at the movie studios (1053), at least ­until Deuce is arrested as a serial killer. And while Deuce’s arrest may seem a just ending for Webb’s slayer, it is hard not to be cynical about the ­others needlessly killed by Webb’s assassin. Likewise, it is hard not to notice that Webb’s vision of workers’ empowerment seems, in this hard-­boiled version of the world, to be lost in the miasma of Hollywood hedonism, Red scare paranoia, and Baldwin–­Felts-­like u­ nion busting (1054–55, 1059). In fact, it is the doomed fate of or­ga­nized ­labor—­from the gold, silver, zinc, and coal mines of Colorado to the trade ­unions of Hollywood—­that lurks most menacingly in Pynchon’s hard-­boiled subplot, with one character expressing disbelief that the 1910 Times bomber was u­ nion, suspecting instead a conspiracy by the media mogul Gray Otis to “destroy u­ nion ­labor in the southern part of the state” (1058). The l­ abor movement that one hundred pages e­ arlier Pynchon has satirized with an “Anarchists’ golf course” (934) becomes, by the hard-­ boiled years ­after the war, a movement largely absent. Published in 2004 and 2006, respectively, Berry’s Hannah Coulter and Pynchon’s Against the Day represent late-­career works by two very dif­fer­ent authors. Despite the differences between Berry’s place-­based new agrarianism and Pynchon’s sprawling vision of the onset of the twentieth ­century, both authors dramatize generational


M at t Wa n at

and ­family and community conflicts against the backdrop of industrial extraction and exploitation. In 1970 Berry wrote about the coal economy wherein we justify “the damages of strip mining” mainly “in the name of electrical power,” adding that “we need electrical power, the argument goes, to run our factories, to heat and light and air condition our homes, to run our ­house­hold appliances, our TV sets, our ­children’s toys, and our mechanical toothbrushes.”42 In The Unsettling of Amer­i­ca (1977), Berry demonstrated the effects of the fossil-­fuel economy and industrial agriculture on the depopulation and devaluation of sustainable farming and rural places. But it is in Berry’s fiction that we see the drama of strug­gle to maintain community membership amid the crisis of industrial technologies and ideologies. Fittingly, the “­children’s toys” and “mechanical toothbrushes” Berry describes as part of the coal economy are precisely the consumer gizmos born out of the gimcrack culture Against the Day’s Traverse kids seem on the verge of entering, a Hollywood dream factory with Lake and Deuce in the hard-­boiled realm of suburban dissatisfaction. If Berry’s vision is a post–­World War II era of declining membership and shrinking population among the communities of rural laborers, Pynchon’s culminates in a post–­War World I dream of movies, electricity, automobiles, and ­those “appliances” Berry discusses, all of which have been produced by l­ abor increasingly po­liti­cally underrepresented. We in this ­century are heirs to both t­ hese worlds, and to the warnings Berry’s and Pynchon’s novels contain. Sustainable, local agricultural economies are now the exceptions rather than the rule. And as the extraction of nonrenewable fossil fuels continues in the form of oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and mountaintop removal, interest in ­labor solidarity has waned. Webb’s vision, if not his vio­lence, has been lost to the point where communities of ­labor around extraction are to the average person no more immediately pre­sent to mind than the mythical Tatzelwurm or tommyknocker.

Notes 1. ​Graeme Macdonald, “Oil and World Lit­er­a­ture,” American Book Review 33, no. 3 (March/

April 2012): 7; and Amitav Ghosh, “Petrofiction,” New Republic 206, no. 9 (March 1992): 29–34.

2. ​Annie Proulx, Barkskins (New York: Scribner, 2016); B. Traven, Rebellion of the Hanged

(London: Allison & Busby, 1952); B. Traven, Trozas, trans. Hugh Young (London: Allison and Busby, 1977); Jennifer Haigh, Heat and Light (New York: HarperCollins, 2016); and Herman Melville, Moby-­Dick (New York: Bantam, 1851). 3. ​Upton Sinclair, Oil! (New York: Penguin, 1927). A 1927 muckraking novel, Oil! reappeared in the new millennium alongside Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film adaption ­There ­Will Be Blood (Paramount, Miramax, Ghoulardi). See also Ann Pancake, Strange as This Weather Has Been (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2007). 4. ​Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of Amer­i­ca: Culture and Agriculture (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1977), 88. 5. ​Berry, 5, 10. 6. ​Juliet  B. Schor, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline in Leisure (New York: Basic Books, 1991), 43.

Leisure and Light Work 165

7. ​Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecol­ogy and the Accumulation of Capital (Lon-

don: Verso, 2015), esp. 241–290.

8. ​Wendell Berry, “Energy in Agriculture,” Bringing It to the ­Table: On Farming and Food (Berke-

ley, CA: Counterpoint, 2009), 58–59.

9. ​Berry defines as “marginal” places that do “not lend themselves readily to exploitation by

fossil fuel technology,” Berry, “Energy in Agriculture,” 59. See also Berry, Unsettling of Amer­i­ca, 171–223, where he devotes a w ­ hole chapter to the recognition and reclamation of marginal agricultural places and approaches. 10. ​Berry, “Energy in Agriculture,” 59. 11. ​Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2004), 111. 12. ​Berry, 112. Elsewhere in the novel, Hannah states, “Members of Port William ­aren’t trying to ‘get someplace.’ They think they are someplace” (67). 13. ​Schor, Overworked American, 2. 14. ​ David Graeber, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant,” Strike! no.  3 (August 2013), https://­strikemag​.­org​/­bullshit​-­jobs​/­. 15. ​ The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd college ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985), 723. 16. ​Berry, Hannah Coulter, 117. 17. ​Graeber, “On the Phenomenon”; and David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2018). 18. ​For an additional discussion of compartmentalization and specialization as features of the industrial economy and industrial agriculture, see Berry, Unsettling of Amer­i­ca, 22–26, 160–167. 19. ​Kimberly K. Smith, Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003), 212. 20. ​Ethan Mannon, “Leisure and Technology in Port William: Wendell Berry’s Revelatory Fiction” Mississippi Quarterly 67, no. 2 ( January 2014): 174. 21. ​For “membership,” see Mannon, “Leisure,” 178; for Burley and Bakhtinian carnival, see 176. 22. ​Berry, Hannah Coulter, 112. Elsewhere in the novel, Hannah narrates, “I had come unknowing into what Burley would have called the ‘membership’ of my life” (42). 23. ​Mannon, “Leisure,” 180. 24. ​Berry, Hannah Coulter, 116. 25. ​See John Clute, “Excessive Candour: Aubade, Poor Dad,” Sci Fi Weekly, November 27, 2006, https://­web​.­archive​.­org​/­web​/­20090420000612​/­http://­www​.­scifi​.­com​/­sfw​/­books​/­column​ /­sfw14197​.­html. 26. ​Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (New York: Penguin, 2006), 36, 1051, 1080. 27. ​In the “Western revenge cluster,” Reef Traverse brings “with him a dime novel, one of the Chums of Chance series, The Chums of Chance at the Ends of the Earth.” See Pynchon, Against the Day, 214. 28. ​Webb Traverse, a western dynamiter and avid u ­ nion man, learns his explosive craft with Viekko, a veteran of “the strike in Cripple Creek,” which dates Webb’s early years just a­ fter the Panic of ’93 and the “repeal of the Silver Act.” See Pynchon, Against the Day, 82. ­Later plot points, more speculative than historical fiction, fantasize about an area of metallurgy “where alchemy and modern electromagnetic science converge,” allowing silver to be transformed into gold and potentially knocking “the Gold Standard right onto its glorified ass” (306). The first part of the Chums of Chance plotline revolves around the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and the novel’s Traverse plot culminates with the period from the Colorado Coalfield War (1913–1914) and Ludlow Massacre (1914) to the rise of Italian Fascism a­ fter the end of World War I. 29. ​Jason W. Moore, “The Rise of Cheap Nature,” in Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism, ed. Jason W. Moore (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016), 79. 30. ​Pynchon, Against the Day, 169. 31. ​Pynchon, 100, 103.


M at t Wa n at

32. ​Pynchon, 274. 33. ​Mine ­owners take comfort in the idea that tommyknockers are “ ‘only’ pack rats” apt to steal

sticks of dynamite other­wise used by Anarchists. Not solely a narrative digression, the tommy­ knockers also distract Frank and divert explosive resources away from Anarchists. Pynchon, Against the Day, 308. 34. ​David Graeber, “Is Your Job Bullshit? David Graeber or Capitalism’s Endless Busywork,” Interview by Dayton Martindale, In Th ­ ese Times, Thursday, May 10, 2018, http://­inthesetimes​ .­com​/­working​/­entry​/­21134​/­capitalism​-­job​-­bullshit​-­david​-­graeber​-­busywork​-­labor. 35. ​Pynchon, Against the Day, 377. 36. ​Pynchon, 263, 268, 271. 37. ​Pynchon writes that he and Fariña formed a “micro-­cult” around Oakley Hall’s 1958 western Warlock. See Pynchon, Introduction, in Richard Fariña, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (New York: Penguin, 1966), x–xi. In a December 1965 issue of Holiday, Pynchon notes Warlock’s revisionist “Arthurian” treatment of the Wyatt Earp myth, where “a committee of ner­ vous citizens” wants the hero to live up to an impossible generic “set of assumptions that have allowed the [superficial heroic] image to exist,” but Pynchon also notes the novel’s l­abor backdrop of “proto-­Wobblies working in the mines, struggling for po­liti­cal control.” See Thomas Pynchon, “On Oakley Hall’s Warlock (1965),” in “A Dif­fer­ent Stripe: Notes from NYRB Classics,” Holiday, December 1965, http://­nyrbclassics​.t­ umblr​.­com​/­post​/­69902584561​/­thomas​-­pynchon​ -­on​-o­ akley​-­halls​-­warlock​-­1965. 38. ​Pynchon, Against the Day, 269, 387–388. 39. ​Berry, Hannah Coulter, 178. 40. ​Pynchon, Against the Day, 1072–1075. 41. ​On Pynchon’s hard-­boiled subplot, see Brian McHale, “Genre as History: Genre-­Poaching in Against the Day,” in Pynchon’s Against the Day: A Corrupted Pilgrim’s Guide, ed. Jeffrey Severs and Christopher Leise (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2011), 9–10. 42. ​Wendell Berry, “Mayhem in Industrial Paradise,” A Continuous Harmony (New York: Harvest, 1970, 1972), 180–181.

Section Three


8 ▶ WALKING THE LINE BET WEEN LEISURE AND ­L ABOR Dorothy Words­worth and Harriet Martineau in the En­glish Lake District A MANDA ADA MS

Walking and ­l abor are inextricably linked in practice and in

our cultural mind. For so much of h­ uman history, h­ umans walked as part of their ­labor, as well as for transport. L ­ ater, when they no longer walked for their jobs, they tended to walk to their jobs. When walking to work became no longer necessary for large swaths of Western, industrialized ­people, walking began to be defined against ­labor—as a leisured activity. The most pedestrian of activities, and thus so often overlooked, walking—­and our understanding of it—is bound up in our conceptions of race, class, and gender, and of course in our understanding of our relationship to the broader world and environment. How ­humans move through the world, and what machines they have built to render that movement faster, correlate with the broader Industrial Revolution that for many marks the beginning of the geological epoch when h­ umans effected profound change on the earth and environment, or, the Anthropocene.1 Walking, therefore, is at the nexus of 169


A m a nda A da ms

questions about l­abor and the ­human–­environment relationship. This chapter investigates walking from the perspective of its relationship to ­labor, particularly ­women’s ­labor, at the beginning of and through the first Industrial Revolution in Britain. I look at two ­women’s writings that describe a version of daily life that combines the nineteenth-­century understanding of walking-­as-­leisure with a consciously pre­industrial and gendered approach to ­labor. In ­these writings, walking emerges as a practice enabling them (and, perhaps, us) to reimagine, even move away from, the labor/leisure dichotomy. Walking is so ubiquitous for most ­people that it becomes invisible. Joseph A. Amato and Anne D. Wallace have each written extensively about walking, especially the way in which it is often overlooked as being unworthy of attention, a fact made evident through the pejorative meaning of the word “pedestrian.” However, walking’s ubiquity is also a reflection of its being a fundamental aspect of h­ uman existence; one way t­hose who would become h­ uman distinguished themselves from their ape forebearers was, ­after all, to walk upright. Amato contends that “since the very beginning, walking and being h­ uman have coexisted,” and “we have walked our way to our being.”2 In fact, “only in very recent times did truly extraordinary numbers of ­humans—­first on h­ orses and in carriages, then on trains and bicycles, and fi­nally in cars, trucks, buses, and airplanes—­begin to sit and r­ ide rather than walk.”3 The shift from walking to machines, or the “transport revolution,” happened in the late eigh­teenth and early nineteenth centuries, at which time walking gradually became disassociated with the laboring poor, at least in the minds of the m ­ iddle and upper classes, who now had cheaper ways to travel faster. Walking instead became associated with leisure.4 The form of walking expressed in William Words­worth’s poetry—­leisured, meditative, healthful—­was slowly appropriated into the public imagination. Walking even enjoyed a brief celebrity as a sport through the rise of “pedestrianism,” as described by Matthew Algeo in his book on the topic. This, too, was a result of the industrial changes of the period: “It’s no coincidence that pedestrianism’s rise coincided with the Industrial Revolution. Throughout the nineteenth c­entury, mechanization and urbanization resulted in something previously unimaginable to all but the very rich: leisure time.”5 Algeo oversimplifies the history of leisure, but at least for the ­middle classes, leisure time, now clearly delineated from ­labor, meant walking could be practiced, by oneself or as a spectator sport, for plea­sure since it was less and less associated with work. Historians, however, also suggest that walking could be seen as a re­sis­tance to the very forces that changed its meaning to an activity associated with leisure instead of ­labor, a point that resonates with Jo Anne Rey’s essay (chapter 11) in this volume. The practice of enclosure in the British eigh­teenth and nineteenth centuries, for example, perpetrated by rich landowners who shut out agrarian workers from land they had been using for generations, offered, through the public footpaths they retained, a way through, so to speak: “Thus walkers on a public footpath ­were, by means of walking itself, unenclosing that path, reappropriating it to common

Walking between Leisure and Labor 171

use and preserving a portion of the old landscape against change.”6 It should be said, however, that enclosure also recruited the practice for its own ends: Julie Hipperson has shown how “walking was deployed as a means to carry out surveillance in the nineteenth-­century countryside.”7 But by the mid-­nineteenth ­century, Romantic visions of walking in nature and Victorian industrial novels by turns offered aspirational and dystopian portraits of what a world with a lot of walking in nature—­and one without it—­looked like. Thus, as industrial factories sprang up and railroads w ­ ere laid out over the countryside, imaginative lit­er­a­ture recorded, critiqued, and created alternatives to a h­ uman body more and more corralled into e­ ither a machine-­driven, labored world, or one that operated only in opposition, but still in reference, to it. While both Romantic nature writing and, ­later, the Victorian industrial novel boldly grasped the attention of the reading public and subsequently critical attention, this chapter focuses on two quieter works that offer models of inhabiting the environment, as well as ways of opting out of the labor/leisure dichotomy: Dorothy Words­worth’s Grasmere Journal (1800) and Harriet Martineau’s series of articles included in A Year at Ambleside (1850). The works are distinct for a c­ ouple of reasons: first, they span fifty years from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to its full realization, yet they offer strikingly similar alternative models of daily life; and second, coming out of a ­women’s tradition of work and leisure, they represent a largely ignored alternative that imagines a form of embodiment in walking that bridges or blurs the line between ­labor and leisure, ­human and environment. Harriet Martineau, living in the north of ­England not too far from the industrial center, but existing a universe apart in the Lake District, published a series of articles in an American magazine, ­later gathered together in a slim volume titled A Year at Ambleside. The articles purported to detail Martineau’s daily and monthly life in her home in Ambleside, a village within walking distance to Grasmere, home of the famed poet William Words­worth (including during Martineau’s time) and, crucially for this chapter, his ­sister Dorothy. Martineau’s articles have been read as ­humble epistles to the beauty of the Lake District or as part of the growing celebrity culture that drew ­people to want to visit the Lake District in order to see the sites in Words­worth’s poems, or the old poet himself. Indeed, she does spend a lot of time describing the landscape, and indulges in not a ­little name-­dropping, not to mention building a public persona for herself. However, the articles actually do more than that. I have written elsewhere about the ways in which the articles, published in the United States, subtly confront issues surrounding slavery and freedom.8 But they also forcefully envision another version of female embodiment and ­labor, centered on walking and challenging clear dichotomies of work and leisure, domesticity and public life. Though not a dominant vision at the time, Martineau was drawing from a tradition of ­women writers on walking, including, though she would not have been aware of it, Dorothy Words­worth’s journals. In fact, Martineau, writing at the end of the first Industrial Revolution, is reviving (or continuing) a version of w ­ omen’s embodied lives that harks back to her


A m a nda A da ms

neighbor Dorothy Words­worth’s private account in her Grasmere Journal (composed from 1800 to 1802, and first published in 1897). In Words­worth’s journal and in Martineau’s articles, written fifty years apart, walking offers an alternative to a sense of embodiment solely defined by l­abor, one less estranged from the environment. They evoke a range of texts from across the nineteenth c­ entury—­narratives of walking for plea­sure, for work, as an escape from ­labor, as a companion to ­labor—in which walking persists as a symbol of the ways in which w ­ omen partook of a form of embodiment not wholly negative during the period most associated with environmental change and the laboring body. Their practice offers an alternative vision not just to the supposed inevitability and ubiquity of embodiment-­ as-­labor during a c­ entury so central to the Anthropocene but also to our own understanding of what forms of embodiment are pos­si­ble now, in ways akin to ­those explored in section 3, chapters 9, 10, and 11 in this volume. Neither Words­ worth nor Martineau ­imagined they ­were writing t­hese works to challenge the overwhelmingly accepted understandings of ­labor and the body, and indeed not many ­people saw ­these works. However, we can and do see them. As Robert Macfarlane writes in the opening pages to The Old Ways, “­Humans are animals and like all animals we leave tracks as we walk: signs of passage made in snow, sand, mud, grass, dew, earth or moss.”9 He means this literally, of course, but also figuratively. Like so many other writer-­walkers, Words­worth and Martineau have left tracks that can be instructive for us now. It is not an accident that the two works treated ­here emerge out of a rich engagement with a very specific region—­the Lake District in ­England. While Words­worth and Martineau write over the same fifty years that mark the pro­gress of the first Industrial Revolution, this region, their chosen home, did not reflect that ostensible pro­gress. Through both geological accident and ­human intervention, the Lake District, with its prohibitive fells (or mountains), seemed to operate on older scales of h­ uman l­abor and engagement with the land. Martineau, in her description of the area in her first article for American audiences in A Year at Ambleside, certainly pre­sents it that way. As she puts it, “The mountains, by their conservative influence, have h­ ere hedged in a piece of old En­glish life, such as is to be found nowhere ­else within the island. They have always hedged in a piece of the life that had passed away from the rest of the country.”10 She goes on to sketch an alternative history to that of Britain’s succession of invaders, highlighting how the geography precluded quick and easy subjugation of the p­ eople already living in dotted fashion among the hills and dales. She discusses how the “wild Britons” held out against the Romans longer than ­those in any other part of the country, and how subsequently, the Saxons, who did fi­nally ­settle, held out longer against the Normans, who eventually mingled with the Saxons “by gradual penetration, and not by force or stratagem.”11 Martineau’s history of slow penetration by outside forces is in large part correct and was reproducing itself in her own lifetime. The railway that stops abruptly in Windermere, not continuing into Grasmere and the rest of the Lake District, does

Walking between Leisure and Labor 173

so ­because of local opposition, including from William Words­worth, in 1844. Still, writing in 1850 of the local ­people’s “old-­fashioned methods of tillage and herding,” Martineau opines that “it ­will not be so for long. Their agriculture cannot hold its ground against modern improvements. Their homespun linen and cloth do not answer now in comparison with Manchester cottons and Yorkshire woollens,” which in effect ­were haunting the region with the specter of slavery-­ dependent, labor-­soaked goods and materials, calling forth the history discussed in Ryan Hediger’s essay on slavery (chapter 3 in this volume).12 Martineau laments that the region w ­ ill not continue “two or three centuries in the rear of neighbouring counties” as it has done.13 This is all to say that industrial forms of ­labor and relationship to the land such as railroads, w ­ ere not in place when e­ ither Words­ worth (in 1800) or Martineau (in 1850) w ­ ere writing. And that is precisely the point. The vision of ­labor and leisure evident in ­these two accounts includes awareness of a changing world outside of the one in which they choose (with varying degrees of agency) to live. However, both Words­worth and Martineau settled into an embodied engagement with the local region in ways that depart from the industrial vision of l­abor and life burgeoning at precisely the same time outside the region. They look backward in some ways, but also, in their thoughtful engagement with the very questions of ­labor that ­others of their time took as inevitable, look forward to alternative ways to work and play in deep connection with the region they inhabit. What is the “work” in which Words­worth and Martineau are engaging? The answer is not so clear, for several reasons that make ­these two characters peculiar, and peculiarly in­ter­est­ing. In part, it is ­because, as Juliet B. Schor has argued, the distinction between l­ abor and leisure is historically located, a notion being formed right around the time that Words­worth was writing, and being reified by the time Martineau was writing. Schor frames this as a question of agency and time that became increasingly imperiled in a cap­i­tal­ist, industrial system: “As employers consolidated control over their workforces, the day was increasingly split into two kinds of time: ‘­owners’ time, the time of work’; and ‘their own time, a time (in theory) for leisure.’ ”14 And many of Martineau’s and Words­worth’s compatriots had less leisure than ever before. Schor’s revelation is that while medieval peasants had relatively expansive access to (what we would t­oday call) leisure, “working hours in the mid-­nineteenth ­century constitute the most prodigious work effort in the entire history of humankind.”15 ­Women’s time spent on work was somewhat outside of this trajectory, remaining more consistent across centuries since their work (childcare, ­house­hold maintenance) did not ebb and flow with the seasons as medieval male farmers’ work did. However, the way in which that work was viewed did shift. Long held to be ”out of the purview of economics” and “denied the status of work,” Schor points out that this devaluing of ­women’s work actually occurs at the same time—­the 1800s—as the sharp uptick in time spent on ­labor for men and industrialization. Before the nineteenth c­ entury, “­women’s ­house­hold activities w ­ ere not devalued


A m a nda A da ms

by being denied the status of work.”16 In other words, a ­woman’s work in the ­house­hold took as much time as ever, but was reassigned outside the “­labor” sphere and assumed to be part of a ­woman’s nature, part of the “Cult of True Womanhood” or the “Cult of Domesticity,” both terms that capture ­women’s being bound up in work that was assumed to be “natu­ral,” unlike the l­abor men ­were ­doing. The damage done to both men and w ­ omen u­ nder ­these ideological strictures—­for t­ hose who did and ­those who did not adhere to them—­has been well documented. However, the par­tic­ul­ar nature of Martineau’s and Words­worth’s lives—­their location, their class, their childlessness—­locates them somewhat outside both the crushing expectations of ­labor and the restricting nature of ­women’s “work” that was not, as it ­were, “­labor.” Indeed, their narratives suggest that, for them, domestic ­labor was a real part of their day, but not at all dominant and not regularized. Both authors are engaged in so-­called ­women’s work, or, work that supports the domestic needs of the h­ ouse­hold, activities in line with con­temporary ideas of work. Both of them have domestic help in the form of h­ ouse­hold servants, though they also do much themselves. This domestic work involves caring for clothing (ironing, sewing, e­ tc.), preparing food, and, as part of this, gardening or domesticating the landscape around their homes, and, fi­nally, entertaining t­hose who share their homes ­either permanently or briefly as guests. They also both write. Words­worth does not rec­ord her work in the journal as work, a fact seemingly natu­ral as well as notable, but Martineau did publish prolifically during this period, so her writing “work” is occasionally recorded in the account of her days. Both also write letters almost e­ very day. Martineau is the head of her h­ ouse­hold; Words­ worth lives on a modest inheritance, sharing her home with her ­brothers. As a result, they are masters of their time. Schor’s insistence on this fact as a la­men­ta­ble loss from medieval life when peasants’ and lords’ “time was their own” is key h­ ere in understanding how t­ hese two narratives function as alternatives to the normative understanding of l­abor at the time.17 Beyond (or, rather, interspersed with) their domestic responsibilities, the two ­women narrate time taken up with walking the fells and dales around them, visiting with friends, and engaging intellectually with a host of issues. ­These daily practices, in the way they are recorded or described, and apparently carried out, are remarkably ­free from demarcation. It is Dorothy Words­worth who muddies the line between l­abor and leisure most clearly. It is in the inconsistency of days, in her refusal to build the structure of her day around ­labor and leisure. As Pamela Woof puts it, “Dorothy lived in a more spacious freedom than most of us. ­There ­were few external constraints on her life during ­those three years of The Grasmere Journal. She had . . . ​no strict routine.”18 This is evident from the very beginning and throughout. In her opening entry, dated May 14, 1800, Words­worth weaves together the themes that w ­ ill dominate her journal: love of her ­brother (he has just left and she resolves, famously, to write a journal “­because I s­hall give Wm Plea­sure by it when he comes home again”); her emotional life, often bound up with him (“I sate a long time upon a

Walking between Leisure and Labor 175

stone at the margin of the lake, & a­ fter a flood of tears my heart was easier”); the natu­ral flora and fauna of the region (she describes “a beautiful yellow, palish yellow flower” as well as cata­loging “violet, anemones two kinds, orchises, primroses”); her social life—­involving both close f­ amily friends and strangers she meets in and out of the home (she meets two beggars as well as “a blind man driving a very large beautiful Bull & a cow”);19 and her domestic ­labor. In other words, she is enthusiastically able to give her sense of time over to the larger rhythms of the nonhuman world around her. ­Labor is notably nondominant, a fact that emerges in the very grammar of her writing. Indeed, her account in this first entry sets a tone of ­labor as a minor occupation that blends seamlessly with the rest of her activities. ­After a day of reflection, feeling, and walking, seemingly without practical point, in the Grasmere region, she writes, “—­Arrived at home with a bad head-­ach, set some slips of privet.”20 This brief description of planting some hedge for the home comes, in her characteristic run-on sentences, in the same sentence as her description of meeting a beggar ­woman while she walked. Her refusal in this first entry to delineate l­abor from leisure, from the other ele­ments of her life, establishes the norms for the rest of her journal, wherein ­labor remains a side note rather than the subject of a complete thought. When Words­worth limits l­abor to a clausal position, she creates a grammar that unsettles the rigid labor/leisure distinction. ­Labor appears (generally) subordinated in her run-on sentences, rarely commandeering a sentence of its own. Thus, she might have a day when she describes l­ abor as dominant: “So heavy a rain that I could not go for letters—­put by the linen, mended stocking &c.”21 This entry, from a Thursday in May, uses the “&c” symbol to avoid writing out the other t­ hings she does, which are clearly less in­ter­est­ing to her than her inability to walk ­because of the heavy rain. It is also followed by a Friday entry that begins with “Walked in the morning to Ambleside” and continues with a representative sentence: “Returned on the other side of the lakes—­wrote to William a­ fter dinner—­ nailed up the beds worked in the garden—­Sate in the eve­ning ­under the trees.”22 Her unconventional grammar works, ­ here, to undermine clear distinctions between ­labor and leisure. What we presume to be ­labor (“worked in the garden”) is enclosed and flanked by her leisurely engagement out-­of-­doors (walking home and sitting outside), in addition to her social activity of writing to her ­brother, who was traveling. Words­worth’s tendency h­ ere stands in very marked contrast to what Kathryn Yusoff describes as the grammar of extraction, a system of understanding that renders both the nonhuman and the inhuman as resources and objects to be mined.23 However, Words­worth does call attention to her l­abor often by using the word “work,” instead of, as we might imagine some w ­ omen d­ oing, putting her ­house­work in terms of feminine duties. She writes, “­After dinner Aggy weeded onions & carrots—I helped for a l­ittle—­wrote to Mary Hutchinson—­washed my head—­worked,”24 and ­later, “Worked hard and read Midsummer night’s


A m a nda A da ms

dream, Ballads—­sauntered a ­little in the garden.”25 But almost always, ­these allusions occupy a minor clause, part of a larger cata­log of activities. Anne D. Wallace briefly observes this in her study of Dorothy’s journals, noting “their inescapable mixing of categories usually separated by the contiguous lines of gender and genre. Dorothy repeats and overlaps her abiding concerns—­writing, reading, but asymmetrical patterns enforcing a constant shifting of attention which rarely privileges one of ­these ele­ments over another.”26 What Wallace calls “overlapping” and “asymmetrical” extends to questions of l­abor and leisure and contributes to this alternative model of daily life outlined in Dorothy’s recorded world. Likewise, Martineau often evinces no clear delineation between her work life and her leisure. A public figure and published writer, what we would call her l­abor is divided between writing for publication and d­ oing domestic work. Early on in her series of articles, Martineau writes about her decision to ­settle in the Lake District, a region with which she had ­little familiarity. She justifies her choice by asserting, “­Here, I could write in the serenest repose; h­ ere, I could rove at w ­ ill; ­here, I could rest.”27 Writing, walking, and resting: ­these are the fundamentals of her daily life and w ­ ill be how she divides her time. Notably, she sees her successful and pleas­ ur­able engagement of t­ hese activities as reliant on the region in which she has chosen to live. In other words, it is in the somewhat removed (from industrial and, one assumes, social life) region of the Lake District that she can relax into an understanding of her days as incorporating all ­these ele­ments. In that sense, her activities are produced in a kind of open, embodied dialogue with the nonhuman. Like Words­worth, Martineau occasionally employs the language of “work” to mean something clearly delineated from leisure. Thus, a­ fter a description of a leisure-­filled day, she refers to “my occasional holidays” and how they ensure that ­there can be “no excuse for idleness for me” (132). She likewise proudly boasts about how efficient she is at completing her work: “In an hour’s time, we had made our beds—­the maids and I—­and the new blinds w ­ ere drawn down, and the ­kettle was steaming and singing.”28 One should keep in mind a ­couple of ­things, however, in the face of such assertions. First, Martineau is writing for an audience (unlike Words­worth), and that audience is midcentury Americans for whom work was decidedly a virtue (though, for w ­ omen, this would be complicated by their need to adhere to the so-­called Cult of True Womanhood, of which Martineau, unmarried and childless, would be at most a marginal member). Second, Martineau’s days, as she describes them, actually contradict her clear delineations, and she seems to know it, including descriptions like the one above as justification for how the rest of her account ­will take shape. If Martineau and Words­worth diminish the role traditional w ­ omen’s work plays in their daily lives, they also dwell on how much ­labor for the domestic sphere actually takes them from home on a daily basis, thus revealing how central walking was to their daily lives, what­ever they w ­ ere ­doing. In this way, both narratives emphasize how some ­women’s lives saw a simultaneous disruption of two dichotomies so central to the nineteenth c­ entury: that of the so-­called separate

Walking between Leisure and Labor 177

spheres (or, the private/public) and that of the labor/leisure split.29 Th ­ ese disruptions ­were made pos­si­ble by the pro­cess of walking, a natu­ral, human-­scale form of embodiment that in itself constitutes a ­counter to the machine-­scale of living that was the Industrial Revolution. Martineau’s articles on Ambleside, and Words­ worth’s journal tell the story of ­women’s work moving beyond the interior domestic and into the exterior, requiring a movement that challenges the ideology, not only of separate spheres but also of work and leisure. Both ­women engage in the “­labor” of gathering plants, planting them (or arranging them, as the case may be), and it is h­ ere that we see how much the embodied practice of walking figures into their daily lives, and how such a practice is instrumental in constructing an alternative relationship to ­labor and leisure.30 Even when Martineau’s narrative focuses on the building and development of her home, for example, that space is most often conceived of as the immediate area outside her ­house, and that space is one quite permeable in terms of the flora that adorns it. Martineau’s construction of domestic space often involves bringing materials—­ferns, trees, flowers, and so on— to her home from other spaces, sometimes wild, sometimes the result of ­others’ cultivation, for transplantation—­bringing t­ hese, that is, by walking. Martineau and her companions—­sometimes her domestic servants, sometimes her ­family and friends—­regularly engage in the practice of moving plants from one area to her own, an activity involving long walks out to gather such plants and walks back to place them at her home. She accepts “what­ever [is] offered us” from friends, but also finds “that we ­were lowly enough to be pleased with the wild flowers which are yielded to the seeker by ­every field, copse, wall, and bank in this region.”31 She removes “heather from an enclosure which is sort of a heather preserve” and finds that “one trowel [is] small enough to take the ferns clean out of the crevices of the walls” and transplant onto her own land.32 William Words­worth stops by to plant a “stone pine” (the suggested oak being “too common a tree for a commemorative occasion”). He “stuck in his spade on a spot ­under the terrace wall.”33 Clearly, plants and trees can cross the threshold of private property, of wild and domesticated spaces, just as Martineau does on foot. And walking is central to the practice. As she writes of one day gathering ferns, she was “hoping to set out plants before dark, though we have walked ten miles.”34 She confirms this connection between domestic ­labor and walking (and plea­sure) in a letter from the period, writing, “My walks have an additional interest now. I peep & pry e­ very where to find what I can help myself with for my rocks & nooks & slopes.”35 Oliver Rackham, in his classic ecological history, can help us historicize ­these practices, showing how “the collecting mania of the nineteenth ­century extended to plants. ­People picked flowers, which usually did ­little harm, but also used to dig up ferns, orchids, and other rare plants.” Ultimately, he surmises, “collecting may mask the less obvious ill-­effects of a change in habitat.”36 Likewise, with trees, Rackham points out that “planted trees, especially oaks, are inevitably at a disadvantage by losing some of their roots in the transplanting.”37 Rackham also suggests that the practice of tree planting diminishes the unique local ecol­ogy. For example, he


A m a nda A da ms

argues, “­Every oak or alder planted in Cambridge (traditionally a city of willows, ashes, elms, and cherry-­plums) erodes the difference between Cambridge and other places. . . . ​It is devalued by being made a universal tree.”38 Like the homogeneity of products turned out in an industrial factory, transplanting can have adverse consequences. However, it would be a m ­ istake to overstate this parallel, given the vastly dif­fer­ent scales on which industry and transplanting w ­ ere practiced. Transplanting does not pretend to total innocence or purity in h­ uman relationships with land, yet neither does it resort to ­wholescale remaking and destruction of the land. Threading this needle, such transplantation practices can offer a pragmatic Anthropocene ethics of human/nonhuman relations. The transplanting performed and recorded by both w ­ omen operates, as do their narratives, on an individual, local level fundamentally at odds with overarching categories (or leisure/labor or masculine/feminine spheres) and large-­scale, industrial change.39 Walking, again, was at the nexus of this life. In fact, walking thus takes on the attributes of transplantation, becoming a kind of identity hybrid, remaking both the flora and the walker at the same moment. Interest in flora becomes a practice of walking. Such hybridity (though not directly related to walking) has been observed in nineteenth-­century American w ­ omen’s narratives by Stacy Alaimo, who notes that in the stories of Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary Wilkins Freeman, “nature often seems to have imploded into the domestic realm, leaving an odd, hybrid landscape for ­women to inhabit.”40 Indeed, practices of walking and transplanting disrupt not only the leisure–­labor dichotomy but traditional understandings of the bound­aries of domesticity. Dorothy Words­worth walked as part of her ­labor for the home, but of course, that walking is a g­ reat source of plea­sure to her. So she reports, for example, that she “walked up into the Black quarter, I sauntered a long time among the rocks above the church . . . ​—­I strolled on, gathered mosses, &c.”41 Though she does not rec­ord planting the mosses, one can assume she w ­ ill. On another day, Dorothy “walked up to the rocks above Jenny Dockeray’s . . . ​I went into her garden & got white & yellow lilies, periwinkle, &c, which I planted. Sate ­under the trees with my work—no fire in the morning.”42 Such consistent walking out to bring back in speaks to the unsettling of bound­ aries between the domestic sphere—­and the l­ abor attached to it—­and something ­else, something more public. Wallace points out that “in Dorothy Words­worth’s journals, and in the poetry of her commonplace books, public ways may become lost in the domestic, the walker’s tracks disappearing as they enter the private space of the home. But groves are also figured as ­house­holds.”43 As with Martineau, Words­worth shows that “domesticity clearly may involve—­may even depend on—­traveling and wandering, both local and at large, as ­house­hold members come and go, or walk out to gather materials for writing.”44 Wallace sees this reconfiguration of domestic life and walking in William Words­worth as well: “Both William and Dorothy give walking special value as the kind of movement through the world, the kind of travel or wandering, which most successfully performs this kind of domestication.”45 For Wallace and Alaimo, then, the bound­aries between nature

Walking between Leisure and Labor 179

and the domestic are permeable and actively crossed—by the authors and, in Alaimo’s configuration, by nature itself. Words­worth and Martineau both perform this unsettling of categories—­ domestic/public, labor/leisure—­through their walks. This is made ever more clear in how often they rec­ord walking as pure plea­sure, an emotionally sustaining but often physically difficult plea­sure that is plainly central to their lives. The sheer amount of ground covered—­willfully—by the two ­women is the most persuasive fact on this account. By any standard, but especially by ­today’s, it is impressive. Wallace estimates that given her constant companionship with William, we can assume that Dorothy, too, covered, the “175 to 180,000 En­glish miles” that Thomas De Quincey assigned to William over their lifetimes.”46 We also know she was warned against walking so much. Responding to a letter from her aunt warning her about walking so much, Dorothy wrote: “I cannot pass unnoticed that part of your letter in which you speak of my ‘rambling about the country on foot.’ So far from considering this as a ­matter of condemnation, I rather thought it would have given my friends plea­sure to hear that I had courage to make use of the strength with which nature has endowed me, when it not only procured me infinitely more plea­sure than I should have received from sitting in a post-­chaise—­but was also the means of saving me at least thirty shillings.”47 Her aunt’s was not the only remonstrance Dorothy faced as a frequent walker.48 Martineau herself rec­ords an account of Dorothy’s ­mental decline in another essay, “Lights of the En­glish Lake District,” from Dorothy’s sister-­in-­law, Mary Words­worth. Martineau writes that Mary “offered me the serious warning that she gave whenever occasion allowed, against overwalking. She told me that Dorothy had, not occasionally only, but often walked forty miles in a day to give her ­brother her presence. To repair the ravages thus caused she took opium: and the effect on her exhausted frame was to overthrow her mind.”49 As Alexis Easley has pointed out, “Martineau allows this explanation for Dorothy Words­worth’s decline to stand ­until l­ ater in the essay, where she fi­nally discounts it, though only indirectly.”50 Martineau then calls William and Mary Words­worth “but too naturally impressed with the mischief of overwalking in the case of ­women” and reveals that they “took up a wholly mistaken notion that I walked too much.”51 Martineau is likewise careful to document the distance and routes of walks, mentioning, for example, “a walk of about five miles” in “January,”52 that “we have walked ten miles”53 in “March,” “our walk of a dozen miles” in “April.”54 Some walks are, as she writes in “May,” “not the less beautiful for being only a mile from home,”55 noting, again, that “the distance was only six miles” in “July.”56 Notable in and among the extensive walks they describe is their insistence on the plea­sure it gives them. Dorothy uses the word “plea­sure” when she defends herself against her intrusive aunt. Indeed, that is her defense. She insists on the “plea­sure” of walking, just as Martineau insists on the “additional interest” walking has for her in an above-­quoted letter. “Interest” suggests something more than an activity undertaken for laborious reasons, and “additional” calls our attention to the sheer plea­sure her walks give her—­the gathering of plants is in addition to,


A m a nda A da ms

and secondary to, that primary interest. That plea­sure can be quiet, as captured in the verbs Words­worth employs to describe it: she “saunters” and “strolls,” as much as she “walks” or “sets off.” The plea­sure can be ecstatic, such as when Martineau describes a hike up to Kirkstone Pass. When she reaches the top, she exclaims, “How prodigiously steep the road looks, winding over the heath—­without fence, or tree, or shrub—­spanning the torrent, but other­wise wholly wild!”57 Words­worth, in her famous description of the daffodils that ­will serve as the inspiration for her ­brother’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” sounds likewise moved to poetic description as she walks where “the wind seized our breath the Lake was rough,” walking farther to see how the daffodils “rested their heads upon t­hese stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake.”58 Such moments of reflection and inventive creativity suggest that Dorothy’s (and Martineau’s) walks offered plea­sure far beyond momentary enjoyment—­though they did that too. Rather, they allow for life-­sustaining embodied, intellectual, and emotional experience. The walks, in other words, should be taken seriously as giving a fundamental structure and meaning to ­these ­women’s lives. If, in Words­worth’s rebuke to her intrusive aunt or in Martineau’s insistence on the benefits of walking, the authors seem occasionally defensive about their walking for plea­sure, it should come as no surprise. Indeed, both w ­ ere writing and living in a world that prized feminine domestic ­labor for middle-­class ­women and prized ­labor more generally as a crucial h­ uman teleology. Words­worth and Martineau’s marginal membership in the category of middle-­class ­women—­marginal ­because they ­were unmarried and childless—­already makes it somewhat necessary for them to justify their lives. What should come as a surprise is how l­ittle they actually engage in this defensiveness and how much they assume that their daily life, made up of some domestic work but dominated by walking, writing, intellectual engagement, and social life, is normal or even aspirational. This lack of defensiveness might, in Words­worth’s case, of course be due to the private nature of her writing. Walking’s significance in ­these texts rises when we consider the fact that the nineteenth ­century saw the body, especially the male body, as more and more associated with laboring in ways antithetical to h­ uman thriving, as evidenced by every­thing from vulnerability to black lung in coal mines to the general rapid decline of health documented in works like Friederich Engels’s The Condition of the Working Class in ­England (1845).59 In fact, even ­those literary accounts that focus on industrial despair ­later in the c­ entury, once that despair had been made clear, imagine walking as an alternative mode of embodiment, but associate it with leisure almost exclusively. At the opening of Elizabeth Gaskell’s industrial novel Mary Barton (1848), the characters are walking—­not to the jobs they ­will so tragically fulfill or mourn throughout the rest of the narrative—­but outside, in the hills surrounding Manchester, a city cloaked in soot. Gaskell opens with a “Manchester Song” (in fact written by her husband, scholars believe)60:

Walking between Leisure and Labor 181

Oh! ’tis hard, ’tis hard to be working The ­whole of the live-­long day, When all the neighbours about one Are off to their jaunts and play. ­There’s Richard he carries his baby, And Mary takes ­little Jane, And lovingly ­they’ll be wandering Through field and briery lane.61

The fictional singer dreams of “wandering” in the fields instead of “working / The ­whole of the live-­long day.”62 In other words he (presumably) imagines a way of embodied life centered on leisure and not l­abor. It is a brief pastoral-­infused respite for them, and for the reader, from what w ­ ill be an other­wise tragic existence. Despite this opening pastoral, Gaskell’s novel of the “Hungry Forties” pre­sents a devastating account of life for the working poor at the end of the first Industrial Revolution. Her insufficient solution—­more understanding, more compassion between o­ wners and workers, which the o­ wners show through keeping more men at work by cutting their own profits—­fails to imagine how ­human socie­ties might or­ga­nize themselves in ways not centered on l­abor and the laboring body. However, she valiantly and effectively called a midcentury readership to an awareness of the prob­lem. She cannot imagine a mode of living outside of the laborer–­owner system she exposes, cannot imagine how the body might exist outside the labor/ leisure dichotomy. The chapters in section 3 of this volume attempt precisely this kind of imagining. Though Gaskell cannot see past the very structures that ensure the dystopian real­ity of her characters, she does document the decline it has on their physical well-­being. One of her main characters, John Barton, has “a stunted look about him,”63 his person a direct product of a factory town and laboring life. Likewise, the narrative is punctuated with premature death of minor characters—­women, ­children, and men, laboring bodies all—­laboring at work and at home ­under unviable conditions. So while the form that l­abor took in the nineteenth c­ entury meant working-­class men and ­women would suffer physically, leisured walking also emerged as an anecdote and a form of “exercise,” itself a consequence of nineteenth-­century industrial life. And in recognizing this, we see a connection between ­labor, the body, and the environment. In writing about the ecologies of l­abor, Vybarr Cregan-­Reid points to the rise of the concept of exercise as a response to increasingly mechanized embodied living during the Industrial Revolution, arguing that “exercise (leisure, too) flowers ­because of an ecological imbalance between the body and place.”64 And referring to the prominence of rickets and bowed legs in nineteenth-­century working men (particularly ­those working in mines), Cregan-­Reid argues that legs collapsing ­under the moderate weight of a torso become the very essence of the Anthropocene body, being both biomechanical symptoms and prob­lems derived from the


A m a nda A da ms

sourcing of fossil fuels. On the one hand, green­house gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels are having a tremendous impact on climate change across the planet; on the other hand, the modes of extraction used to access the fuel meant that the bodies of mineworkers ­were bent and bowed ­because their ­labor was needed to fire the furnace of the Industrial Revolution.65 In the local, small-­scale interactions between w ­ omen like Martineau and Words­worth and their environment, and in the healthful, h­ uman scale of the walking that allows it, we see something quite apart from “the Anthropocene body.” Indeed, while men’s l­abor in, say, industrial factories, relied on w ­ omen’s ­house­hold ­labor to maintain a functioning life (some, of course, required a second income earned in some of the same factories), it does remind us that ­women remained more, though not completely, apart from the destructive culture of industrialism. They ­were not, of course, the ­owners of such factories, nor the biggest demographic of its workforce. Ideologically, their “work” played a supporting role in the cap­it­al­ist systems that enabled such industrialization. For the ­women who w ­ ere d­ oing ­house­work, such ­labor was conceptualized precisely outside of the bound­aries of industrial capitalism. It reminds us that, as Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-­Baptiste Fressoz have pointed out, h­ umans are not equally responsible for the Anthropocene. Instead, we need to “take into account social asymmetries and inequalities.”66 Though they do not mention gender ­here, it is fair to say that ­those driving the industrial turn and its attendant ­labor shifts ­were not w ­ omen. Anna L. Tsing, in a dialogue with other anthropologists, likewise pinpoints who we mean when we talk about “man” being the cause of disastrous changes: “For me . . . ​‘Man’ does not mean ­humans, but a par­tic­u­lar kind of being in­ven­ted by Enlightenment thought and brought into operation by modernization and state regulation and other related t­ hings. It is this ‘Man’ who can be said to have made the mess of the con­temporary world. It was ‘Man’ who was supposed to conquer nature.”67 Once again, we see theorists of vari­ous disciplines differentiating between the few power­ful men who built the ideology and the structures that gave rise to the Anthropocene and ­others, including w ­ omen, who bear less culpability. In their introduction to The Shock of the Anthropocene, Bonneuil and Fressoz ask, “What historical narratives can we offer of the last quarter of the millennium, able to help us change our world-­views and inhabit the Anthropocene more lucidly, respectfully and equitably?”68 Words­worth and Martineau offer two such models, ­women who reveal how living on a nonindustrial scale can engender sustainable lives in terms of environment and l­abor and how walking, a most h­ uman endeavor, can work as a practice of re­sis­tance, though it is so natu­ral. And that is the point: when a fundamental aspect of being ­human functions as a re­sis­tance to the dominant economic model for a culture, some major miscalculation is afoot and something has gone drastically wrong. W ­ omen bear less of the responsibility for the damages done by the full adaptation of industrial norms. Perhaps it is in ­women’s lives, albeit uncommon ones, that we can begin to see an alternative.

Walking between Leisure and Labor 183

Notes 1. ​While ­there is some debate about when to date the beginning of the Anthropocene, if such a

term is even appropriate, t­ here is no doubt that the Industrial Revolution plays a significant role in forming it. W ­ hether we date it back to the advent of agricultural practice 12,500 years ago or we see the invention of the steam engine in 1784, concurring with Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer (in “The ‘Anthropocene,’ ” Global Change Newsletter 41 (May  2000): 17–18, http://­ www​.­igbp​.­net​/­download​/­18​.3­ 16f18321323470177580001401​/­1376383088452​/­NL41​.­pdf) as the start of the new geological era, the peculiar nexus of economic structures of l­ abor and environmental transformation that the first Industrial Revolution engendered signal fundamental shifts in how ­people worked and how their work affected the environment. See Jesse Oak Taylor, “Globalize,” in Veer Ecol­ogy: A Companion for Environmental Thinking, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Lowell Duckert (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 36. 2. ​Joseph  A. Amato, On Foot: A History of Walking (New York: New York University Press, 2004), 19. 3. ​Amato, 2. 4. ​Anne D. Wallace, Walking, Lit­er­a­ture, and En­glish Culture: The Origins and Uses of Peripatetic in the Nineteenth ­Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 10. 5. ​Matthew Alego, Pedestrianism: When Watching ­People Walk Was Amer­i­ca’s Favorite Spectator Sport (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2014), ix. 6. ​Wallace, Walking, 10 7. ​ Julie Hipperson, “ ‘Efficiency on Foot?’ The Well-­ Run Estate of Nineteenth-­ Century ­England, in Walking Histories, 1800–1914, ed. Chad Bryamt, Arthur Burns, and Paul Readman (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 140. 8. ​See Amanda Adams, “ ‘H ­ ere, I Could Rove at W ­ ill’: Harriet Martineau, Sartain’s Union Magazine, and Freedom in the Transatlantic Periodical Press,” Victorian Periodicals Review 51, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 121–137. 9. ​Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (London: Penguin Books, 2012), 13. 10. ​Harriet Martineau, A Year at Ambleside, in An In­de­pen­dent W ­ oman’s Lake District Writings, ed. Michael R. Hill (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2004), 62. 11. ​Martineau, 66. 12. ​Martineau, 67. 13. ​Martineau, 68. 14. ​Juliet  B. Schor, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (New York: Basic Books, 1992), 50. 15. ​Schor, 44. 16. ​Schor, 84. 17. ​Schor, 51. 18. ​Pamela Woof, Introduction, in Dorothy Words­worth, The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002), ix. 19. ​Dorothy Words­worth, The Grasmere Journal, in The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002), 1. 20. ​Words­worth, 1. 21. ​Words­worth, 4. 22. ​Words­worth, 4. 23. ​Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019). 24. ​Words­worth, Grasmere Journal, 2. 25. ​Words­worth, 3. 26. ​Anne  D. Wallace, “Inhabited Solitudes: Dorothy Words­worth’s Domesticating Walkers,” Nordlit: Arbeidstidsskrift i litteratur 1 (Spring 1997): 108.


A m a nda A da ms

27. ​Martineau, Year at Ambleside, 81. 28. ​Martineau, 99. 29. ​Certainly, many ­women’s activities within the home also blur that line—­producing needle-

work, for example, sometimes for practical purposes, sometimes for artistic expression and enjoyment. 30. ​Martineau’s and Words­worth’s disruption of the lines between domestic work and walking for plea­sure seems distinct from ­those works of “domestic fiction” that seek to domesticate the outside world in the way some w ­ omen’s fiction did. Writing of American w ­ omen writers who thematize a more traditional domestic duty for ­women, critics beginning with Amy Kaplan have pointed out how they can seek to rhetorically justify the “domestication” (read: colonization) of other p­ eople’s land. Kaplan emphasizes the “pro­cess of domestication, which entails conquering and taming the wild, the natu­ral and the alien.” While key to understanding both British and American writing about the domestic sphere, the walking by Martineau and Words­ worth seems wholly disengaged from the work of “manifest domestication” (Kaplan’s term for the American version of this writing). Amy Kaplan, “Manifest Domesticity,” American Lit­er­a­ ture 70, no. 3 (September 1998): 582. Instead, their rhetorical work is carried out through the act of walking into ­these spaces, gathering plants (though not enough to have a major environmental effect) or not, and returning to their structures of home having carried the values of both into the other. In view of the rapid changes happening around Words­worth’s and Martineau’s trans-­Atlantic audiences, their movement is a retraction of sorts of the kind of imperial overreach being done at the very time they are writing. 31. ​Martineau, Year at Ambleside, 90. 32. ​Martineau, 91. 33. ​Martineau, 88. 34. ​Martineau, 98. 35. ​Martineau to Elizabeth Barrett (Miss Barrett), February 8, 1846, in Harriet Martineau: Further Letters, ed. Deborah A. Logan (Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2012), 153. 36. ​Oliver Rackham, The History of the Countryside: The Classic History of E ­ ngland’s Landscape, Flora and Fauna (London: Phoenix Press, 1986), 43. 37. ​Rackham, 224. 38. ​Rackham, 29. 39. ​See Theresa  M. Kelley, Clandestine Marriage: Botany and Romantic Culture (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) for a discussion of amateur “botanizing w ­ omen” who “botanized just at, and then just beyond, the edge of acceptable womanly be­hav­ior” (93). Kelly reveals how gendered the understanding of plants—­and t­ hose who studied them, was, as well as how confounding and attractive t­ hose plants—­like ferns—­that stood outside sex classification ­were to Romantics. 40. ​Stacy Alaimo, Undomesticated Ground: Recasting Nature as a Feminist Space (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000), 40. 41. ​Words­worth, Grasmere Journal, 4. 42. ​Words­worth, 5. 43. ​Wallace, “Inhabited Solitudes,” 99. 44. ​Wallace, 101. 45. ​Wallace, 102. 46. ​Wallace, 127. 47. ​Dorothy Words­worth (D. W.) to Mrs. Christopher Crackanthorpe, Windy Brow, April 21, 1794, in The Letters of William and Dorothy Words­worth: The Early Years: 1787–1805, ed. Ernest De Selincourt and Chester L. Shaver, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), 117. 48. ​W hile recent biographers still speculate as to the cause of Dorothy’s decline in m ­ ental health, none has suggested that walking too much was to blame.

Walking between Leisure and Labor 185

49. ​Harriet Martineau, “Lights of the En­glish Lake District,” in Hill, In­de­pen­dent W ­ oman’s Lake

District Writings, 433. 50. ​Alexis Easley, “The W ­ oman of Letters at Home: Harriet Martineau and the Lake District,” Victorian Lit­er­a­ture and Culture 34 (2006): 300. 51. ​Martineau, “Lights of the En­glish Lake District,” 460. 52. ​Martineau, Year at Ambleside, 70. 53. ​Martineau, 98. 54. ​Martineau, 100. 55. ​Martineau, 112. 56. ​Martineau, 143. 57. ​Martineau, 102. 58. ​Words­worth, Grasmere Journal, 85. 59. ​Friederich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in E ­ ngland, ed. Victor Kiernan (London: Penguin Books, 1987). 60. ​Edgar Wright, ed., Explanatory Note 1, in Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 475. 61. ​Gaskell, Mary Barton, 1. 62. ​Gaskell, 1. 63. ​Gaskell, 4. 64. ​Vybarr Cregan-­Reid, “Ecologies of L ­ abour: The Anthropocene Body as a Body of Work,” 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth ­Century 26 (2018): 2. 65. ​Cregan-­Reid, 15. 66. ​Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-­Baptiste Fressoz, The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us, trans. David Fernbach (London: Verso, 2015), 69. 67. ​Donna Haraway et al., “Anthropologists Are Talking—­About the Anthropocene,” Ethnos 81, no. 3 (2016): 541. 68. ​Bonneuil and Fressoz, Shock of the Anthropocene, xiii–­x iv.

9 ▶ ­L ABOR, LEISURE, AND LOVE OF COUNTRY Rangering in the Age of the Alt-­NPS JENNIFER K. L ADINO

Being a park ranger changed my life. From the day I laid eyes on

the Teton Range as a twenty-­year-­old fresh out of college, I was someone ­else: an in­de­pen­dent young ­woman who had just discovered her place in the world. That place was the American West. Between the jaw-­dropping first view of the Tetons from Togwotee Pass, followed promptly by my first-­ever grizzly bear sighting—­a ­mother and cub grazing in the shadow of t­ hose mountains—­I was hooked. This was my “first morning” in what was clearly “the most beautiful place on earth.”1 As I would soon read in Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, the book a new National Park Ser­vice (NPS) colleague informed me was required reading for rangers, “­there are many such places.”2 Maybe so, but this one felt unique. To borrow Terry Tempest Williams’s words about ­Grand Teton National Park, this was “my ­Mother Park . . . ​the birthplace of my won­der,”3 and an environmental sensibility I would continue to develop in my professional ­career and my personal politics, both. It ­wasn’t just the place that was special; it was also the job. I remember when it dawned on me that I was ­doing something I loved and getting paid for it. I had just finished making the rounds at a small campground, exchanging pleasantries with visitors from around the world, when my supervisor asked me to hike the lakeshore 186

Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country 187

trail and identify downed trees that needed clearing or broken bridges that required repairing ­after the harsh winter. As I set off down the trail—­inhaling the fresh smell of sunshine on pine, feeling the damp soil give beneath my feet, noticing the spring beauties starting to bloom, and squinting at the brilliant sunlight on the lake—­I realized I had stumbled into the elusive “dream job.” While working as an NPS ranger can involve a stroll along a glacial lake, it is much more than that. Rangering entails, among other ­things, emotional ­labor.4 I mean this partly in the so­cio­log­i­cal sense first laid out by Arlie Hochschild to describe the ways we regulate emotions that are out of sync with the expectations of a par­tic­u­lar job. Rangers must mask frustration with tourists, for instance, with a congenial smile; we must also nurture or kindle positive emotions in visitors. But in another sense, the ­labor is emotional ­because it is a “­labor of love.” As rangers, especially full-­time permanent rangers and “­career seasonals” (­those who, like me, work seasonally for a long period), we typically love where we work and we often love the work itself. And the public knows it. Time ­after time a visitor would approach my desk and say something wistful, like “I wish I’d done this sort of ­thing when I was your age.” Even while I recognized that “­doing what you love” tends to justify low paychecks—­and, as with any job, t­ here are unlovable ele­ments—I thought ­these visitors ­were right to be envious. Government housing could mean a barely renovated trailer, a communal dorm with shared bunk beds, or a decades-­ old cabin infested with bats, mice, and spiders, but this ­humble lodging enabled us to live and work in this place that we loved. We ate, slept, and breathed “the green and gray,” the colors of the iconic ranger uniform and a metonymic shorthand for the NPS, a phrase often charged with a sense of pride in the agency. Living where we worked meant we ­were always on duty when it came to educating visitors about bear safety or advising them not to pick the flowers. But being a ranger also meant taking pride in one’s job without considering it the only aspect of one’s identity. Rangers I worked with knew that ­there are many other ways to connect with the world and its inhabitants besides through work. In my experience, rangers took a more leisurely, more humane, all-­ around healthier approach to ­labor than any other job I have held. The question “What did you do on your days off?” almost always meant “Which new peak did you climb?” or “What new animals did you encounter?”—­and almost never “Did you catch up on work?” Leisure time, often time spent hiking, climbing, or camping with o­ thers and encountering nonhuman animals, was productive of relationships and experiences, not (more) l­ abor. If sometimes ­there was a competitiveness of the “peak bagging” kind (I remember occasionally feeling like a failure if I ­hadn’t clocked enough trail miles on my weekend) that competition still largely eluded the hypercapitalist competitiveness tied to efficiency, economic value, and perpetual growth. This chapter looks to the NPS ranger for insights into relationships between ­labor, leisure, and love of country as “nature’s nation” grapples with the Anthropocene— or as some scholars would have it, the Capitalocene. Jason W. Moore’s collection


Jennifer K . L a dino

of essays, Anthropocene or Capitalocene: Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism, champions the latter term, which would align the new geologic epoch with the historical era beginning in the mid-­fifteenth ­century, an era “­shaped by relations privileging the endless accumulation of capital,”5 a cultural logic of extraction. Moore wants us to understand capitalism as a “situated and multispecies world-­ecology of capital, power, and re/production” that might well be transformed.6 Moore’s essay in the collection insists that “the organ­ization of work—­inside and outside the cash nexus, in all its gendered, semicolonial, and racialized forms—­must be at the center of our explanations, and our politics.”7 While the gendered, racialized, and colonial dimensions of the NPS are only starting to be acknowledged—­and ­there is pro­ gress being made, as I ­will discuss in the conclusion of this essay—­the park ranger figure might inspire other kinds of slow, even artisanal l­abor, which are not predicated on the extractive vio­lence that is a defining feature of capitalism. To anticipate Sharon O’Dair’s contribution to this volume (Coda), this ideal form of l­abor is leisurely, in the sense of being relatively “slow,” relatively noncompetitive, and relatively non-­growth oriented. Rangers preserve nature in a way that refuses ­wholesale commodification. Despite the NPS’s embrace of the phrase “resource management” and the increasing tendency ­toward the privatization of ­those resources, rangers’ ­labor is not intended to produce commodities for consumption. Even if the dramatic postcards, stuffed bison, and flattened pennies tourists take home threaten to render the more-­than-­human world a mere souvenir, the NPS nevertheless is not supposed to gain financially from selling, developing, or exploiting the resources it manages.8 Rangers’ ­labor is not growth oriented; it is relational, and inclusive of the nonhuman world. If rangers can be said to “produce” anything, it’s leisure: a central component of the NPS mission is to promote “enjoyment” of public lands, to secure that par­tic­ul­ar form of leisure for the rest of the country.9 The agency aims to uphold a demo­cratic ideal in which all Americans can enjoy the public spaces that we collectively own. Of course, this cele­bration of play in designated spaces can fuel the separation between work and leisure that infuses everyday life, making ­labor seem indefinite and leisure time a luxury. However, a closer look at the ranger figure reveals a more leisurely, even anti-­capitalist ­labor that could become a model for an American public that desperately needs to learn, as the environmentalist Bill McKibben has put it, when “enough is enough.”10 In what follows I track repre­sen­ta­tions of ­labor, leisure, and patriotism through the ranger figure in two recent texts: Ken Burns’s The National Parks: Amer­i­ca’s Best Idea (2009) and Terry Tempest Williams’s The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of Amer­i­ca’s National Parks (2016). I show how popu­lar repre­sen­ta­tions of rangers tend to reinforce the sense of national parks as places of leisure apart from everyday life and of the NPS itself as an anomaly—­a luxury agency that, especially in times of economic uncertainty, is perpetually endangered. Standard environmentalist affects such as nostalgia, awe, and won­der are tied to romantic notions of rangering that sometimes reify it as all play and no work. Despite t­ hese risks, I w ­ ill argue that NPS rangers are well positioned to model the va­ri­e­ties of ­labor that are

Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country 189

pos­si­ble and to redefine and expand feelings of patriotism in such a way as to imagine an ecologically and socially just ­future. I also suggest that the recently formed “rogue” branch, the Alt-­NPS—­which emerged to defend fact-­based scientific research from a presidential administration that threatened both scientific facts and public lands—­could help shift public sentiment about what it means to be a patriot, and an environmentalist, in progressive ways.

The National Parks: The Ken Burns Effect and Ranger Nostalgia My first book, Reclaiming Nostalgia: Longing for Nature in American Lit­er­a­ture, grew directly from the thirteen seasons I spent working as an NPS ranger in the Tetons. It was partly nostalgia for the ranger figure, including for the iconic uniform, that made me won­der if ­there might be more to nostalgia than its typical associations with reactionary, conservative po­liti­cal narratives. I wanted to see ­whether ­there ­wasn’t an upside to nostalgia for nature, in par­tic­u­lar, and I found many examples of what I called “counter-­nostalgia”: a literary or cultural text’s deployment of nostalgia to disrupt dominant nostalgic narratives and imagine progressive possibilities for the f­uture.11 As I started to explore in that proj­ect, nostalgic associations with the NPS—­including every­thing from the uniforms to the rustic “parkitecture” that characterizes many park buildings12—­helps facilitate nostalgia for a time when l­ abor itself was leisurely, when ­people worked with their hands to create artisan objects, when t­ here was time to sit around a campfire (­after starting it with flint and steel, of course) and share stories, and when knowledge was in our heads, not just in the tiny handheld computers we increasingly rely on for information t­ oday. In our high-­tech con­temporary moment, this kind of nostalgia can be as comforting as it is misleading. Ken Burns’s documentary The National Parks is among the more high-­profile repre­sen­ta­tions of American national parks and the rangers who work in them. In his classic documentary films such as Baseball, The West, and more recently, The Vietnam War, Burns explores subjects crucial to U.S. national identity using a pan-­ and-­zoom approach to photo­graphs so distinctive that Steve Jobs bought the rights to it and made it a popu­lar iMovie feature: the “Burns effect.” Google “the Ken Burns effect,” and you w ­ ill find YouTube video tutorials and links to Apple’s video production software. Burns himself describes the effect as “a way to w ­ ill old photo­graphs alive” that (he adds cheekily) has “saved millions of bar mitzvahs and weddings and vacations.”13 In The National Parks, the effect feels nostalgic, antiquated, even outmoded. Some critics say it reduces the natu­ral world to “gorgeously shot nature porn.”14 As the film scholar Adrian Ivakhiv rightly notes: “Its talking-­head historians, soporific soundtrack, and 12-­hour length offer l­ ittle appeal to the millions of young p­ eople who are ‘growing up digital.’ ”15 (I would not subject my own students to this film in its entirety.) Ivakhiv’s concerns ­aren’t ­limited to the film’s aesthetics. He also argues that the series reinforces a magisterial gaze that


Jennifer K . L a dino

reifies nature as “other,” as something “out ­there” rather than the “improvisational, demo­cratic” history the film claims to document.16 I would add that the “Burns effect” threatens to reify not only nature but also rangering itself as a romantic relic. Most of the rangers shown in the film are White men, which means The National Parks does reinforce the classic myth of the “­great white ­fathers” who protected ­these places and cemented their importance for the nation. Cindy Ott points out that only one ­woman—­Juanita Greene, a journalist who worked to protect the Everglades—is shown “working at a desk, compared to dozens of men in this pose” and that w ­ omen’s roles in preservation are downplayed, misrepresented, or elided altogether.17 ­There are efforts to highlight w ­ omen rangers—­Kayci Cook in episode 6, for instance, or Nevada Barr, who relates some of the silly questions park rangers collect (she rattles off a few classics: “What time do the moose come out for pictures?” “How much of this cave is under­ground?” “Why did the Indians build their ruins so close to the road?”). However, men’s comments are always close on their heels, and male voices dominate the film. The screen time favoring men perhaps confirms Dayton Duncan’s offhand remark that “most of the rangers ­were men, but a few ­were ­women.” While The National Parks clearly reinforces certain dominant ideologies, the critiques of it neglect the question of the ranger figure itself and the way ­labor is represented in the film. Focusing on repre­sen­ta­tions of the work of rangering produces a dif­fer­ent, slightly more charitable reading. The National Parks does gesture t­ oward some of the historical complexity of ranger work, which has involved every­thing from military occupation and protection against poaching to backcountry patrols, search and rescue operations, interpretive talks, wildlife biology research, and public affairs news releases. And the film does contain interviews with some of the diverse ­people who have lived and worked in t­hese places. Scholars have been strangely reticent about ­these interviewees. Though it could be dismissed as tokenism, it is nevertheless true that the first ranger we see—in the prefatory ­matter, the opening credits, and sponsor information—is a person of color. The film spends substantial time with Gerard Baker, an Indigenous (Mandan-­Hidasta) man who worked as superintendent at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and with Shelton Johnson, an African American from Detroit who works at Yosemite National Park and conducts living history programs about the Buffalo Soldiers. ­These figures demand attention for what they add to the film’s repre­sen­ta­tions of rangering. Ott notes that Gerard Baker “defies the popu­lar ste­reo­type of the primitive Native,” but she does not explore how his role in the film functions beyond that.18 Even Margret Grebowicz, who calls Baker “the most striking figure” in the series, spends surprisingly l­ittle time explicating his “semiotic complexity.”19 Baker was not just any ranger; he was a park superintendent, the top position in a park’s hierarchy. When he appears, fifty-­three minutes in, ­there is a noticeable change in the feel of the film. His long salt-­and-­pepper braids frame his gray uniform buttons, and his voice is lighter, more alive, full of passion, especially coming a­ fter another male baritone delivery of John Muir quotations.

Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country 191

Baker explains what “sacredness” means for American Indians: “You can go in t­ here and walk as our ancestors did; you can go in ­there and see what the creators made for us; and you can feel it, you can feel the spirits.” He takes this definition “one step farther”: “­because the environment is still t­ here, as in the time of creation, we believe that it is still alive.” Baker confronts the NPS as an institution of settler colonialism by critiquing the cultural appropriation of Indigenous ­peoples when he explains that “in the early days of the national parks the Indians w ­ ere brought back, not as a ­people who would tell a story, but as somebody who could dance” and sing, and “be the Indian” for tourists. In episode 3 Baker reminds viewers that “when you walk into any national park, you are walking into somebody’s homeland, ­you’re walking into somebody’s h­ ouse, ­you’re walking into somebody’s church, ­you’re walking into the place where ­they’ve lived since the time the Creator made it for them.” The repetition of phrases and the word “somebody” should give viewers pause to consider who, exactly, he means. At another moment, Baker chuckles: “For us, it was almost kinda humorous. . . . ​[The park] ­didn’t need to be discovered. It was never lost. All they had to do was ask us.” Baker’s presence in the film and his insightful comments suggest a growing role for Indigenous ­peoples in telling stories of t­ hese places that go back centuries, to when “public lands” w ­ ere Native lands. As more p­ eople begin to realize that public lands still are Native lands—or rather, they should be—­Baker’s comments raise difficult questions for con­temporary park man­ag­ers about how to address the agency’s role as an institution of settler colonialism.20 Shelton Johnson also plays a substantial role in The National Parks, and his take on rangering is equally in­ter­est­ing. He opens episode 2 with nostalgic reflections on his first NPS job in Yellowstone National Park. Echoing my own feelings as I gazed on the Tetons and spotted grizzly bears for the first time, Johnson talks about delivering the mail in Yellowstone and, upon seeing bison, feeling as if he’d been “thrust back into the Ice Age.” Turning off his snowmobile, Johnson says, he felt as if “this was the first day, and this morning was the first time the sun had come up.” Like Baker’s comments, Johnson’s words are inspirational and lively; he closes his eyes when he recalls the power­ful emotions of that morning. Th ­ ere is an energy to his voice that makes rangering sound magical, an ideal job that brings one into direct contact with the more-­than-­human world, even during such banal duties as delivering the mail. Johnson suggests, too, that he felt at home in Yellowstone, and he recalls seeing the Yellowstone Arch’s inscription “for the ­people”—­not some of the ­people, but all of the ­people. In episode 6, Johnson chuckles over the prospect of talking about the G ­ rand Canyon in Detroit—it just ­didn’t happen, he admits. And yet, ­here he is, giving living history programs in Yosemite National Park, many of which are available to this very audience via podcast. He describes Col­on­ el Charles Young, the first African American NPS superintendent, as “a walking inspiration” to African Americans. Johnson’s comment that ­going to national parks is “like g­ oing home” echoes many of the other interviewees’ sentiments; but, coming from a


Jennifer K . L a dino

Black man dressed in the formal dark-­green ranger jacket, the words are especially poignant. One wants to believe that, in Baker’s words, “­we’re promoting all cultures of Amer­i­ca” at NPS sites, and “­we’re all dif­fer­ent. And just maybe that gets us talking again as h­ uman beings, as Americans.”21 The prob­lem with the repre­sen­ta­tions of ­these rangers of color is not that they ­don’t gesture t­oward issues of justice but rather that—­like the w ­ omen’s voices in the film—­their voices are overwhelmed by the sheer number of more conventional repre­sen­ta­tions of the romantic, White ranger ideal. Baker’s comments are followed, and overshadowed, by footage of the railroad and phrases like “our richest patrimony,” which make “pro­gress” seem inevitable and the exploitation and destruction of Native p­ eoples worth the cost. The ideal ranger still seems to be the one writer Paul Schullery describes when he says: “We created rangers to personify national parks. It’s Yosemite talking to you. It was Theodore Roo­se­velt, and John Muir, and George Bird Grinnell, all ­those guys rolled into one, and standing ­there in front of you, giving you a talk by a campfire. The romance and magic of that, as near as I can tell, it’s never faded.” The ideal ranger is hypermasculine, a frontiersman, a tireless worker, and a White man. The National Parks cites from early application materials, which sought men twenty-­one to forty and warned: “If you cannot work hard, ten or twelve hours a day, and always with patience and a smile on your face, ­don’t fill out the attached blank.” Duties might include: “Riding, trails, forest fires, h­ andle a ­rifle and pistol, and have practical experience in surviving ­every extreme of weather in the out of doors and be willing to work long hours with no provisions for overtime pay.” Thus the fit-­to-­apply ­were sorted from ­those who should “plan to visit the Yellowstone National Park as a tourist” instead. A ranger, then, must be a knowledgeable teacher and an entrancing storyteller, a tough guy who is also hardworking and “of good character, sound physique, and tactful at ­handling ­people.”22 Such rhe­toric amplifies several of the norms of l­abor that this chapter seeks to question: uncompensated “long hours,” the expectation of emotional ­labor, a tight identification of job with identity, and a patriarchal version of the ideal laborer. The former ranger in Zion National Park, J. L. Crawford, from whom we hear in episode 3, amplifies ­these traditional ideals. Crawford describes how he and the park “grew up together,” how the rangers he saw w ­ ere “dressed nicely and [had] a good job,” and he remembers fondly listening to naturalists giving talks. When he became a seasonal ranger, he explains: “I loved it. I’d work for nothing, except that I had to eat.” ­Later, he mentions, “I ­don’t have any Indian genes in me that I know of,” and that he ­doesn’t think a rock has “life” but does recognize “something spiritual about it.” Contrasted with Baker’s definition of sacredness, the film makes clear that Native and non-­Native rangers both “love” their ­labor but may not understand the places they work for in the same way.23 That disconnect speaks to a greater need to honor the stories and histories of ­people of color in NPS sites and to collaborate on park management ­going forward. Only then ­will the ideals of “slow l­abor” and demo­cratic leisure opportunities be available to more than a privileged few. Crawford’s comments reinforce ­labor norms that are too often, as

Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country 193

Ryan Hediger argues in the introduction to this volume, forms of slow vio­lence maintained by the dominant culture but may perhaps be challenged by Native traditions of work (see chapter 11 in this volume). The National Parks is guilty of reproducing an uncritical collective “we” that owns ­these areas, an as-­yet unrealized demo­cratic ideal, rather than what Grebowicz recommends we work ­toward: an “increasingly self-­reflective mapping of our nostalgia, mourning, and desire, and our experiences of futurity and internal coherence in relationship to instituted nature-­spaces.”24 At worst, it subsumes rangers like Baker and Johnson u­ nder a romantic aesthetic without interrogating the complexity of the relationships of w ­ omen and p­ eople of color to federally managed lands. Still, t­ here is a way in which counter-­nostalgic stories—­like t­ hose Shelton Johnson tells of personal involvement with and patriotic feeling for the NPS—­ might render the role of p­ eople of color more natu­ral, even essential, to the agency’s ­future. Burns is clearly trying to tell a more diverse story about who rangers are, a story that parallels the NPS’s history of, in recent de­cades, beginning to preserve more historic sites and monuments to more difficult parts of our history, such as the Sand Creek Massacre and Manzanar National Historic Sites. Despite its imperfections, The National Parks showcases rangering as a particularly relational kind of work, a ­labor that refuses to participate in capitalism-­as-­usual, marked as it is by “global conquest, endless commodification, and relentless rationalization,” and instead models a dif­fer­ent configuration of “relations of power, knowledge, and capital.”25

The Hour of Land: The Many Hats of Twenty-­First-­C entury Rangers Terry Tempest Williams’s The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of Amer­ic­a’s National Parks, published in 2016 at the centennial anniversary of the NPS’s formation in 1916, showcases the complex challenges t­ oday’s NPS rangers face. The book purveys some of the same romantic narratives about the national parks themselves as Burns’s film does; in par­tic­u­lar, her book’s focus on “awe and won­der” as dominant affects felt at NPS sites echoes the overall mood of The National Parks. Williams reiterates her hope that national parks can serve as “breathing spaces” for the nation, and that ­these spaces w ­ ill facilitate multispecies justice. Awe and won­der can certainly lead to curiosity about NPS sites, perhaps inspiring visitors to research and reflect on the rich histories of ­these places.26 But exactly how ­these affects ­will draw attention to environmental and social justice is unclear.27 While The Hour of Land does not fully clarify t­hese connections, Williams’s distinctively emotional prose style does flesh out the rangers she meets during her travels, making them three-­dimensional ­human beings in a way the “Burns effect” precludes. Even though Williams does not interview as many ­people as Burns does, her personal conversations with individual rangers offer readers a broader spectrum of both rangering and the “resources” the rangers work to protect. If the overall mood of


Jennifer K . L a dino

The National Parks is a romantic, nostalgic one, and the “Burns effect” glosses over many of the banalities, pressures, injustices, and disempowerment the NPS strug­gles with, then Williams’s book foregrounds and confronts t­ hese issues more directly. The rangers Williams meets with take on a greater variety of responsibilities than ­those in the Burns film, making her text more representative of the complexity of rangering t­ oday. While ranger-­naturalists still perform a variety of traditional functions—­naturalists work in the visitor center, lead hikes, give lectures, and cultivate some of the most intimate knowledge of the “resource”—­the generic White man of the “send a ranger” era is rare ­these days. Many NPS jobs are specialized, even, at some bigger parks, siloed into divisions with l­ittle interaction between them. Williams’s book illustrates that many rangers ­today have an increasingly difficult time avoiding the forces of capitalism, and she deploys a counter-­nostalgic mood combined with individual rangers’ stories to resist ­those forces. The first appearance of a ranger in The Hour of Land is the “formidable” Valerie Naylor, a biologist who became superintendent of Theodore Roo­se­velt National Park in North Dakota in 1999 with a noble goal: to “share [her] love of the place with the ­people who visited it.”28 Naylor takes Williams and her ­father, John, on a tour of this park, which both Williams and Naylor describe as “an island within a sea of oil development.”29 Life in North Dakota has been dramatically altered, Naylor explains, ­because of the Bakken oil fields: this extractive industry, she laments, has “changed every­thing.”30 It has always been “a cold, harsh place, but other t­ hings made up for it—­big open country, every­body knew every­body e­ lse, nobody ever locked their ­houses or cars. Now it’s just a cold, harsh place.”31 She misses the days before the Bakken, days she describes as safer and more leisurely. “This used to be such a leisurely drive. You could read a book as you drove, rarely even seeing another car between the two units. Now both hands better be on the wheel.”32 Naylor’s story chronicles a shift in rangering from classic forms—­sharing one’s “love of the place” with visitors—to more complicated tasks. In her words, her “work as superintendent used to be focused on the elk herds, the bison, shoring up the crumbling bentonite hills—­this park is constantly in motion. . . . ​But now [her] primary job is to mitigate the drilling on the bound­aries of the park, and that is more than a full-­time job.”33 Naylor wears many hats in addition to the iconic “Smokey Bear” flat hat. The nature of her work has changed to the point that dealing with oil and gas leases is now “most of [her] job.”34 Naylor is, Williams explains, “part politician, part businessperson, part naturalist, and always the diplomat.”35 At one point in the chapter, Williams describes Naylor riding a float with other NPS colleagues—­who are dressed as prairie dogs “poking up and down in the back”—in a Fourth of July parade in nearby Medora, North Dakota. The crowd, Williams observes, “loves them.” Williams makes sure to describe Naylor’s attire in detail, “gray shirt, green pants, badge, ­belt, and straight-­brimmed hat.”36 The uniform itself carries an affective charge, as I argue elsewhere; it is, in the theorist Sara Ahmed’s terms, a “sticky” object, a carrier of nostalgia, tradition, and the authority of history.37 ­Here, the uniform signals

Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country 195

Naylor’s diplomacy and a familiar NPS nostalgia. However, her comments about her changing job complicate that nostalgia, infusing the sense of loss with an ele­ ment of critique about what it means to be a ranger ­today. Twenty-­first-­century rangering puts the logic of extraction into direct conflict with values the NPS traditionally holds dear, values based on relationships, leisure, and love of place. The public ranger who is compelled to be more politician and businessperson than naturalist does not appear in Burns’s film. Williams gives us a version of Naylor-­as-­ranger that is a counter-­nostalgic one, in that it deploys nostalgia to challenge a simplistic sense of pro­gress. Williams also harnesses her f­ ather’s experience working in the oil and gas industry to echo, parallel, and intensify Naylor’s nostalgia stories. John Williams—­eighty years old at the time of publication and armed with the wisdom of age as well as firsthand experience—­speaks of his own ­labor longingly, as a kind of brotherhood that is now utterly missing from the Bakken. While John believes in oil and gas development as a route to energy in­de­pen­ dence—­indeed, his comments about being “proud of the scars [he has] left in the West” might make some readers cringe—he misses the sense of community he once found in his work.38 He remembers “telling stories and eating together, sleeping ­under the stars, and it built up a real camaraderie among the men” while making them more efficient workers (“by God, if we ­didn’t bore ­under that river in rec­ord time”). John looks at the current workforce and its “man camps,” where as many as six men might share a dilapidated storage unit with l­ittle but booze to keep them occupied, and concludes: “­There’s no dignity ­here.”39 Williams harnesses her ­father’s and Superintendent Naylor’s nostalgia to bolster her own critiques of change in the pre­sent. Williams deftly moves us from Naylor’s nostalgia—­which also highlights the loss of community and trust in the area—to a discussion of the fractured ecosystem, to a sneakily inserted reminder that climate change, too, plays a part in the dissolution of natu­ral and social bonds. Naylor affirms that “the climate is ­really changing,” contributing to unstable soil when the clay becomes saturated with record-­setting annual rainfall. “­We’re just trying to stay on top of it, but literally, the ground is moving beneath our feet.”40 This is a profound real­ity for NPS ­labor more generally. “Just trying to stay on top of it” is all one can do in an agency with an $11 billion maintenance backlog, and in which rangers like Naylor are asked to wear an increasingly unfamiliar and perhaps undesirable array of hats.41 This is a pre­sent in which being a park ranger means being involved in politics, working directly with energy companies, and even ­doing “border control” work. From superintendent to entrance station ranger, ­labor in this park cannot elude the impacts of “big oil” nor the cap­it­ al­ist, colonial proj­ects with which this extractive industry is implicated. Worse, the “man camps” are linked to the deaths and disappearance of Indigenous ­women and ­children, perpetuating the horrific cycles of vio­lence and intergenerational trauma that remain at the core of settler colonialism.42 Other parks face dif­fer­ent but no less complicated po­liti­cal, cultural, and economic challenges. In her chapter on Effigy Mounds National Monument, Williams recounts


Jennifer K . L a dino

her conversations with the Lakota NPS employee Albert LeBeau, a cultural resources man­ag­er whom Williams describes as “a large man, smart, spirited, and out­spoken, with short-­cropped hair and tattoos on both arms.”43 LeBeau reclaims the word “resource” to mean “the ancestors,” contrary to the typical NPS meaning of that word, and he challenges the NPS to “remember that the old p­ eople know ­things—­they [the NPS] forget that tribal ­people have a long knowledge based on stories passed on generation a­ fter generation.”44 LeBeau talks frankly about the “horrible” scandal in 2009, during which maintenance proj­ects proceeded in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. Chief Ranger Bob Palmer, who was “born and raised on a farm ten miles down the road,” is less frank, speaking about the NPS “as stewards to the land and its history” and the agency’s relationship to Native ­people as “complex.” Williams adds, in a one-­paragraph sentence, that Palmer, “as a loyal ranger of the United States Park Ser­vice [sic]” did not tell her “that he is on rec­ord as a voice challenging the former superintendent” who oversaw the monument during the scandal.45 This kind of “complexity” is increasingly a challenge for NPS rangers, as they commit to working more closely with tribal nations and to diversifying both NPS staff and the resources the agency manages. Williams lists accomplishments in promoting diversity within the NPS, an agency she reminds readers was “devised in 1916 by a privileged white businessman” and has since “transformed a ­century ­later to include the vision of a black president, a former community or­ga­nizer, to establish a national monument to honor a Latino l­abor or­ga­nizer and a community of farm workers who understood their privilege as the privilege of h­ uman dignity.”46 How could anyone in the era of John Muir, Williams won­ders, have ­imagined that rangering “now includes picking up five pounds of toilet paper in a two-­foot radius on the trail to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park? How could he have comprehended the appetite of an expanding global population and the carbon load now weighing heavy on all of us?”47 She raises the issue of diversifying ranger jobs and intensifying environmental prob­lems in order to make a broader po­liti­cal point: that perhaps national parks, and park rangers, are uniquely suited to teach compassion across lines of difference. Compassion, she reminds us, is uncomfortable, and developing it is “an act” that requires us to “cultivate the emotions of discomfort and disturbance.”48 It is also absolutely necessary as we face urgent environmental challenges. As “soft skills” such as compassion become increasingly valuable, I emphasize that such skills can be nurtured by slow ­labor practices, by having the time and freedom to understand one’s ­labor as directed not solely ­toward economic profit or commodity production but rather ­toward other goals. While Williams believes we are “at a crossroads” in terms of our fate as a species, she is hopeful for the ­future.49 The rangers she writes about are inspiring, both for their honest discussion of the socioeconomic forces threatening national parks and other public lands, and for their warning that rangers a­ ren’t the only ones who are being asked

Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country 197

to sacrifice leisure time to cater to t­ hose forces. This is a prob­lem for every­one living ­under neoliberal capitalism. If understanding leisure spaces (such as national parks) as exceptional can exacerbate the practice of ­labor as perpetual, then stories of real-­world rangers might help construct a dif­fer­ent narrative of work—­one in which leisure time is valuable and ­labor might be oriented more ­toward social and environmental justice than ­toward economic gain.

The Alt-­NPS: Slow ­L abor and #Re­sis­tance in the Anthropocene The NPS is a unique government agency, not just for its relative popularity with a finicky American public but also for its resilience: despite perpetually inadequate funding and the po­liti­cal whims of shifting administrations, it has persisted for over one hundred years. From 2016 to 2020, the agency faced some of its biggest challenges: in the midst of pressing concerns surrounding climate change, the Trump administration practiced censorship, ignored climate science, and orchestrated huge decreases in the size of federal lands. Despite its mandated neutrality—­ uniformed rangers are not supposed to talk openly about politics—­the NPS has found ways to resist. One such way is the “rogue” branch that emerged in response to the Trump administration’s attempts to silence the agency.50 The “Alt-­NPS,” a social media organ­ization claiming origins in Badlands National Park, now has over two million followers on its Facebook page. Its posts are provocative, engaging, and po­liti­cal. Even the more centrist NPS Facebook group seems ready to reckon with racial injustice and settler colonialism; I recently noticed David Treuer’s article “Return the National Parks to the Tribes” shared ­there, to widespread approval.51 It takes much more than a few Facebook posts to make real change, of course. Actively recruiting and representing diverse rangers, telling more complex stories about public lands, and working more closely with tribal nations, ideally with the goal of joint management or even repatriation of some NPS lands, are all impor­ tant steps to take. As Carolyn Finney cautions, “building relationships across difference means you have to do the internal work, both within the organ­ization and within oneself,” to assess one’s limitations, before one is able to “meet someone ­else with honesty and clarity.”52 Part of this “internal work” for the NPS might mean reclaiming its relatively more leisurely l­ abor while acknowledging more visibly ­those whose l­abor has built this country—­including its public lands. The NPS could team up with activist groups, such as Indigenous Geotags, to remind ­people that public lands are Indigenous homelands and to confront its own role as a settler colonial institution.53 ­Under the guidance of its first-­ever Native leader, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the NPS has a real chance of meeting some of its ambitious goals. Notably, one of Secretary Haaland’s first moves was to create the Missing and Murdered Unit to pursue justice for Indigenous ­peoples via interagency collaborations.54


Jennifer K . L a dino

Other forms of “re­sis­tance” are emerging on smaller scales. In an era of nature deficit disorder, crisis levels of opioid addiction, and increasing evidence that stress leads to negative health impacts, t­ here seem to be more young p­ eople ­eager to find a healthier l­abor–­leisure ratio and to rethink consumer habits—­much like the rangers I worked with in my twenties and early thirties. One example is REI’s Opt Outside movement, begun in 2015 when the com­pany gave its employees a paid day off on Black Friday—­the busiest shopping day in the United States—to choose recreation over consumption. Another example is the Alex Honnold Foundation, which supports solar energy initiatives, works with Navajo ­peoples, and promotes environmental justice in vari­ous forms. The NPS has come up with its own initiatives to invite more diverse visitors into parks, through programs like ­Every Kid in a Park and Find Your Park. Th ­ ese initiatives share common goals of promoting environmental and social justice while encouraging ­people to spend time in relation with the more-­than-­human world rather than spending money in stores. If the agency w ­ ere to join forces with other organ­izations dedicated to getting a broader swath of the American public to spend time outdoors—­such as Diversify Outdoors, Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, and Natives Outdoors—­ the NPS might make strides t­ oward cultivating a “love of country” that is inclusive and relational, as well as resistant to commodification. Rangers might find allies among other professionals who feel overtaxed or suffocated by increasingly neoliberal expectations and are ­eager to resist. Like rangers, professors and instructors in higher education wear a lot of hats, some of which, to borrow Superintendent Naylor’s terms, are quite “strange.” Professors are required to be politicians and businesspeople as well as teachers; we are enlisted for strategic planning, assessment, recruiting and retention, and marketing for our institutions, tasks many of us are not trained to do. Th ­ ose of us fortunate enough to earn tenure have a degree of agency in choosing to “slow” our ­labor—to embrace, for instance, models of “slow teaching” or “slow scholarship.” In their timely piece “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Re­sis­tance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University,” Alison Mountz and her coauthors argue that slow scholarship can be an act of re­sis­tance to the “fast-­paced, metric-­oriented” neoliberal university, especially as that manifests in unrealistic expectations for scholarly publishing.55 Re­sis­tance, as ­these scholars well know, cannot simply be a ­matter of individual choice; that replicates the very neoliberalism that informs and bolsters global cap­ i­tal­ist systems. Many questions remain. What might work look like if more scholars, ­those of us privileged enough to have the option, insist that “good enough is the new perfect”?56 What strategies might we take to quantify our ­labor differently, to infuse impact and outcome mea­sures with a more holistic meaning—­ including, especially for w ­ omen like myself, emotional ­labor? Perhaps, as we imagine ways to shift cultures of work to nurture “a more care-­full ­future of rich and creative research and teaching” in our new epoch, we could do worse than to ask a ranger.57

Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country 199

Notes 1. ​Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (New York: Simon and Schuster,

1968), 1.

2. ​Abbey, 1. 3. ​Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of Amer­i­ca’s National

Parks (New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2016), 38. 4. ​ Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of ­Human Feeling (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). I am focused solely on NPS rangers h­ ere—­not, for instance, National Forest Ser­v ice rangers, whose jobs reflect that agency’s very dif­fer­ent mission. I d­ on’t have space h­ ere to consider gender differences among rangers, nor to fully explore the kind of gender-­specific emotional ­labor that is gaining attention in the era of #metoo. In recent usage, “emotional ­labor” tends to mean the unacknowledged, undervalued, and uncompensated work that ­women are likely to do more of, the kind in which we keep the peace, do more of the ser­vice work, manage the ­house­hold, e­ tc. See, for instance, Gemma Hartley, Fed Up: Emotional ­Labor, ­Women, and the Way Forward (New York: HarperCollins, 2018). 5. ​Jason W. Moore, ed., Anthropocene or Capitalocene: Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016), 94. 6. ​Moore, 94. 7. ​Moore, 93. 8. ​This distinguishes the NPS from the National Forest Ser­vice, whose policy of multiple use is very dif­fer­ent from the NPS’s dual mandate, which is to both conserve and provide for public enjoyment of its managed areas. The mandate has been controversial since its establishment in the Organic Act in 1916. 9. ​The legislation is cited in many places, including the recent survey data compilation: Patricia A. Taylor, Burke D. Grandjean, and James H. Gramann, “National Park Ser­vice Comprehensive Survey of the American Public, 2008–9: Racial and Ethnic Diversity of National Park System Visitors and Non-­Visitors” (Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2011), 3, accessed August 16, 2017, https://­www​.­nature​.­nps​.­gov​/­socialscience​/­docs​/­CompSurvey2008​ _­2009RaceEthnicity​.­pdf. 10. ​Bill McKibben, Enough: Staying ­Human in an Engineered Age (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004). 11. ​Jennifer K. Ladino, Reclaiming Nostalgia: Longing for Nature in American Lit­er­a­ture (Char­ lottesville: University of ­Virginia Press, 2012). 12. ​For an overview of NPS architectural trends, including “parkitecture,” a contextual design strategy in which “the natu­ral setting comes first and the man-­made ele­ments must blend into the surrounding context,” see Robert Frankenberger and James Garrison, “From Rustic Romanticism to Modernism, and Beyond: Architectural Resources in the National Parks,” Forum Journal: Journal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (2002), accessed September 20, 2018, http://­forum​ .­savingplaces​.­org​/­viewdocument​/­from​-­rustic​-­romanticism​-­tomodernism. 13. ​Tom Roston, “Ken Burns on ‘The Ken Burns Effect’ (and the 8 Effects He Actually Uses,” POV’s Documentary Blog, Archive POV​.O ­ rg, accessed September 4, 2018, http://­www​.­pbs​.­org​ /­pov​/­blog​/­docsoup​/­2014​/­0 9​/­ken​-­burns​-­on​-­the​-­ken​-­burns​-­effect​-­and​-­the​-­8​-­effects​-­he​ -­actually​-u­ ses​/­. 14. ​James Poniewozik, “TV Weekend: Ken Burns’ National Parks,” Time, September 25, 2009, 36–37, http://­entertainment​.­time​.­com​/­2009​/­09​/­25​/­tv​-­weekend​-­ken​-­burns​-­national​-­parks​ /­#more​-6­ 385. 15. ​Adrian Ivakhiv, “Nature’s Nation: Improvisation, Democracy, and Ken Burns’ National Parks,” Environmental Communication 4, no. 4 (2010): 466. 16. ​Ivakhiv, 464.


Jennifer K . L a dino

17. ​Cindy Ott, “A Visual Critique of Ken Burns’s The National Parks: Amer­i­ca’s Best Idea,” Public

Historian 33, no. 2 (2011): 34.

18. ​Ott, 33. 19. ​Margret Grebowicz, The National Park to Come (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press,

2015), 62. 20. ​Ken Burns et al., The National Parks: Amer­i­ca’s Best Idea, Six Parts (United States: PBS Distribution, 2009). 21. ​“Gerard Baker,” ­People, The National Parks: Amer­ic­ a’s Best Idea, a film by Ken Burns, PBS​ .­Org, accessed October 17, 2018, http://­www​.­pbs​.o­ rg​/­nationalparks​/­people​/­nps​/­baker​/­. 22. ​­These descriptions resonate with mythical repre­sen­ta­tions of cowboys, who are likewise often imaged as White men despite historical evidence to the contrary, underpaid, overworked, and marked with an iconic hat. Unlike cowboys, rangers from the start w ­ ere hired to do the emotional ­labor of being friendly. 23. ​Burns, National Parks, episode 3 (“The Empire of Grandeur”). Documentary films such as In the Light of Reverence highlight ­these differences in provocative ways. Links to that film and related pedagogical resources can be found h­ ere: In the Light of Reverence, POV, PBS​.­Org, accessed October 17, 2018, http://­www​.­pbs​.­org​/­pov​/­inthelightofreverence​/­. 24. ​Grebowicz, National Park to Come, 58. 25. ​Moore, Anthropocene, 94. 26. ​Recent psychological research on awe and won­der suggests t­ hese emotions can spark curiosity and perhaps prosocial action. See, for example, Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt. “Approaching Awe, a Moral, Spiritual, and Aesthetic Emotion,” Cognition & Emotion 17 (2003): 297–314. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley is one place this research is being conducted. See, for instance, Dacher Keltner, “Why Do We Feel Awe?” Greater Good Magazine: Science-­Based Insights for a Meaningful Life, May 10, 2016, https://­greatergood​.­berkeley​ .­edu​/­article​/­item​/­why​_­do​_­we​_­feel​_­awe. 27. ​Elsewhere, I propose Williams’s term “eco-­patriotism” as a capacious affective goal, one that might be reframed in ways that promote more progressive politics. Jennifer  K. Ladino, Memorials M ­ atter: Emotion, Environment, and Public Memory in American Historic Sites (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2019). 28. ​Williams, Hour of Land, 49–50. 29. ​Williams, 65. 30. ​Williams, 54. 31. ​Williams, 69. 32. ​Williams, 55. 33. ​Williams, 54. 34. ​Williams, 53. 35. ​Williams, 60. 36. ​Williams, 72–73. 37. ​Sara Ahmed, “Happy Objects,” in The Affect Theory Reader, ed. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 29. 38. ​Williams, Hour of Land, 67. 39. ​Williams, 70–71. 40. ​Williams, 57. 41. ​For an overview of the long-­standing and ever-­growing backlog, and information on what is now known as “deferred maintenance,” see “Maintenance Backlog,” National Park Ser­vice, NPS​.­gov, updated September 6, 2018, accessed October 29, 2018, https://­www​.­nps​.g­ ov​/­subjects​ /­infrastructure​/­maintenance​-­backlog​.­htm. 42. ​For one article that draws attention to t­ hese related prob­lems, see “Vio­lence from Extractive Industry ‘Man Camps’ Endangers Indigenous ­Women and ­Children,” First ­Peoples Worldwide,

Labor, Leisure, and Love of Country 201

University of Colorado, Boulder, January 29, 2020, https://­www​.c­ olorado​.­edu​/­program​/­fpw​/­2020​ /­01​/­29​/v­ iolence​-­extractive​-­industry​-­man​-­camps​-e­ ndangers​-­indigenous​-­women​-­and​-­children. 43. ​Williams, Hour of Land, 159. 44. ​Williams, 164. 45. ​Williams, 161–163. 46. ​Williams, 355. 47. ​Williams, 359. 48. ​Williams, 361. 49. ​Williams, 357. 50. ​See, for instance, “National Parks [sic] Ser­vice ‘Goes Rogue’ in Response to Trump Twitter Ban,” The Guardian, January  25, 2017, https://­www​.­theguardian​.­com​/­technology​/­news​-­blog​ /­2017​/j­ an​/­25​/n­ ational​-­parks​-­service​-g­ oes​-­rogue​-­in​-­response​-­to​-­trump​-­twitter​-­ban. 51. ​David Treuer, “Return the National Parks to the Tribes,” The Atlantic, April  12, 2021, https://­www​.­theatlantic​.­com​/­magazine​/­archive​/­2021​/­05​/­return​-­the​-­national​-­parks​-­to​-­the​ -­tribes​/­618395​/­. 52. ​Carolyn Finney, Black F ­ aces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the ­Great Outdoors (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 132. 53. ​“Public Land Is Native Land,” Indigenous Geotags, accessed October 20, 2018, https://­www​ .­indigenousgeotags​.­com​/­. 54. ​For an overview, see, “Secretary Haaland Creates New Missing & Murdered Unit to Pursue Justice for Missing or Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives,” DOI News, U.S. Department of the Interior, April  1, 2021, https://­www​.­doi​.­gov​/­news​/­secretary​-­haaland​-­creates​-­new​-m ­ issing​ -­murdered​-­unit​-­pursue​-­justice​-­missing​-­or​-­murdered​-­american. 55. ​Alison Mountz et  al., “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Re­sis­tance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University,” ACME: An International E-­Journal for Critical Geographies 14, no. 4 (2015): 1253–1259. 56. ​Mountz et al., 1253. 57. ​Mountz et al., 1253.

10 ▶ LE ARNING TO PL AY IN THE ANTHROPOCENE Winter Recreation and the Politics of Climate Change W I L L E L L I OT T A N D K E V I N M A I E R


s dire headlines stack up regarding the impacts of global climate change, it may seem a luxury to think seriously about leisure. From the Gulf Coast to Alaska’s arctic, where entire communities are eroding into a warming sea, leisure figures minimally into climate change narratives—­news coverage of storm-­ scoured beach resorts aside. More commonly, it is images of desperate ­human ­labor, sandbags and seawalls, that are invoked to tell climate change stories, often as a ­simple conflict of opposing forces: ­human effort versus w ­ ater and wind. Yet one of the uncanny ­things about climate change is the realization that ­behind ­these front lines, day-­to-­day life seemingly proceeds as if nothing alarming is happening. ­Every day, p­ eople still hop in their cars and head to work, to school, or out for a hike. This makes the theorization of ­these quotidian activities all the more impor­tant, even leisure activities, and even amid an Anthropocene epoch that is itself typically theorized in terms of ­labor. For one ­thing, leisure activities, especially t­ hose related to outdoor recreation, offer impor­tant sites of inquiry ­because they form the basis of many ­people’s concrete experiences of climate change. Taking leisure seriously, we focus h­ ere on one of 202

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 203

the Anthropocene’s most vis­i­ble manifestations, global climate change, and in par­ tic­u­lar, on the emerging communities of winter sports enthusiasts who have explic­itly politicized their recreation activities in response. We look closely at Protect Our Winters, a po­liti­cal campaign working to mobilize backcountry skiers and snowboarders to address global climate change at the national level. We conclude by examining more locally oriented proj­ects, including a grassroots effort led by a backcountry skier and environmental data scientist in Alaska, where the warming effects of climate change are more severe than in lower latitudes. Both efforts reveal how new social and ecological pressures of the Anthropocene are distorting the once-­familiar frames through which we have understood outdoor recreation and activist identities, such as empire and extraction. In marked contrast to a logic of l­ abor that enframes both the self and the earth as raw materials to be instrumentalized in a regime of work, the attitudes of self-­conscious play we document ­here prompt prac­ti­tion­ers to recognize their position within much wider ethical and ecological relationships—­a reevaluation not just of activist identities, but of Anthropocene subjectivity more generally. Ultimately, we argue, our case studies underscore the importance of learning to play in the Anthropocene. Although we focus h­ ere on climate change and emerging activist identities that outdoor sports communities have cultivated in response, for a far greater portion of Americans in 2020, an Anthropocene epiphany arrived in a dif­fer­ent form: the SARS-­CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. Much could be said h­ ere about how COVID-19 prompted a reconsideration of the global, and of the ­human more broadly, along lines long theorized by the environmental humanities. However, even more pronounced has been Americans’ collective reconsideration of l­abor and leisure. Criticisms of the initial response to the pandemic singled out state and federal governments’ reluctance to loosen the reigns on l­abor for the sake of public health. This “Open for Business” approach backfired spectacularly as asymptomatic carriers unwittingly transmitted the virus to ­others and public health systems w ­ ere overwhelmed. In the ensuing period, as strategies like social distancing w ­ ere employed en masse to limit the virus’s spread, popu­lar discourse turned new attention to leisure. ­People deemed nonessential laborers examined this new, unexpected excess of leisure time, especially its enforced and therefore paradoxical nature. Consequently, if the COVID-19 pandemic tells us anything about ­labor and leisure in the Anthropocene, it is that the previously intuitive hierarchy of ­labor over and above leisure needs revision, and urgently so, in a world where governments effectively called on subjects to work themselves to death, and where the work of staying safe, staying home, was for a time, itself a form of lifesaving l­ abor. As we write, states and countries are forging paths to a new normal, but t­ hese dialectics have been unsettled in fundamental ways. Admittedly, it remains true that the notion of playing with and within the end of the world is unsettling, given its horrifying environmental context. The most recent dispatch from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a Special Report on Global Warming


W ill Elliot t a nd Ke v in M a ier

of 1.5°C, warns that ­unless h­ uman socie­ties make immediate global changes to slow warming, we face a near ­future of worsening food shortages, intensifying wildfires, and unpre­ce­dented climate-­driven diasporas due to sea level rise.1 The report amplifies the sense that h­ uman socie­ties have inaugurated a novel geological epoch by changing the global climate, one in which sense of place now entails, often anxiously, a sense of changing climate. The collapse of ­human and natu­ral history announced by the concept of the Anthropocene figures h­ uman socie­ties not just as a biological force, but a geological one, driving what some are calling the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history. Specifically, it is industrial modernity’s fossil-­fueled excesses—­a ­matter not just of h­ uman reproduction but also of recreation in the form of increasingly disposable lifestyle goods beyond the necessities of survival—­ driving what scholars call the G ­ reat Acceleration, the rapid intensification over the past c­ entury of h­ uman socie­ties’ planetary impact.2 Both ways of framing our moment prompt h­ umans to imagine themselves among that majority of other species who could vanish from the earth. As many have pointed out, environmental humanists are uniquely positioned to contemplate this existential anxiety, highlighting the key tensions inherent to the idea. On one hand, the term “Anthropocene” evokes a cautionary tale, oriented ­toward the ­future. As a ­simple way of understanding climate change, it emphasizes the concept of planetary limits that cannot be exceeded to sustain a functional Earth system. On the other hand, however, when understood not simply as conflict but a closure to ­human narratives on earth, the Anthropocene can invoke a sense of hopeless nihilism. As one slogan now puts it, “We Are the Asteroid,” likening the Anthropocene to prior mass extinction events.3 Although an apocalyptic Anthropocene succeeds in capturing the scope of the prob­lem, it also frames the Anthropocene as an iteration of an already immutable event. Its image of the h­ uman species as a careening rock, senseless and inertial, hardly inspires systems and socie­ties to change course. At the same time, overt optimism has also been criticized. As Eileen Crist puts it, “Nothing about it—­much less the name—­offers an alternative to the civilizational revamping of Earth as a base of ­human operations and functional stage for history’s uninterrupted per­for­mance.” As a consequence, she argues, although “Anthropocene discourse touts the unavoidable merger of the human-­ natural,” it frames this merger in terms of ­human mastery, such that the only line of flight it envisions is “the high road of becoming good man­ag­ers of the standing reserve.”4 Both lines of thinking offer a narrow scope of responses: do nothing, or more of the same. In response, some theorists have proposed alternate ways of understanding our moment. Timothy Morton, for example, suggests that the sheer scale of the Anthropocene’s immediate manifestations, such as climate change, mean that the basic affect of our current ecological era is “anxiety.”5 In his view, the concept of the Anthropocene “renders meaningless the very tools with which modernity has striven to talk about the nonhuman: concepts such as nature, world, and even environment are now obsolete.”6 For Morton, however, the upshot is not a dangerously doubled-­down

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 205

humanism but the opposite. He argues, “The Anthropocene is the first truly anti-­ anthropocentric concept” ­because it prompts us to reevaluate humanism altogether, along lines such as species, agency, subjectivity and other constituent concepts of the ­human.7 Donna Haraway offers a similarly lucid response to this nihilism, also attuned to the Anthropocene’s ironic implications. Her compelling book Staying with the Trou­ble (2016) asserts that we should think of the Anthropocene not as a term marking the inevitable march t­ oward species extinction but rather as a “boundary event.”8 For Haraway, ­there is “no question that anthropogenic pro­cesses have had planetary effects,” but she proposes that we think of the changes more subtly, in terms of degree rather than kind, maintaining that no ­matter how we conceptualize it, our “job is to make the Anthropocene as short/thin as pos­si­ble.”9 Haraway in fact proposes a series of new terms—­most notably, the “chthulucene,” a term whose difficult pronunciation materializes the friction between ­human language and the physical world it means to represent—­which she uses to mark the “past, pre­sent, and to come” when a “dynamic, ongoing” and “intense commitment” to “collaborative work and play with other terrans” w ­ ill enable “flourishing multispecies assemblages that include ­people.”10 For Haraway, this requires “reconstituting refuges,” and making pos­si­ble “partial and robust biological-­cultural-­political-­ technological recuperation and recomposition.”11 While this must include “mourning irreversible losses,” Haraway opens spaces for a playful politics of multispecies survival. In short, she provides a forward-­looking alternative to apocalyptic nihilism, without evangelizing techno-­fixes to the ecological prob­lems of our era. She concludes, essentially, that instead of learning to die in the Anthropocene, we need to learn to live and play in the Anthropocene. We propose that activist identities emerging from outdoor recreation represent an impor­tant form of such play. In what follows, we document how the politicization of backcountry skiing might foster a set of performative narratives that offer better means of understanding more embodied, and politicized, relationships to place in the midst of global climate change. In d­ oing so, we recognize backcountry skiing’s place within a centuries-­long Western literary tradition of registering the po­liti­cal dimensions of outdoor recreation. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, avid hikers and hunters won historic ­legal pre­ce­dents for conservation; John Muir’s Sierra Club, which began as a group of hikers, and Teddy Roo­se­velt’s big-­game-­hunting Boone and Crockett Club are but two prominent examples, both of which changed the politics of land management and in turn the course of American relationships to the nonhuman world in profound and lasting ways.12 Yet for several de­cades, critical environmental thinkers have been appropriately anxious about equating recreation with conservation. In his 1994 essay, “Are You an Environmentalist, or Do You Work for a Living?” Richard White notes how environmental movements have frequently equated work with destruction, and leisure with environmental value.13 The consequence, he argues, is that “environmentalists so often seem self-­righteous, privileged, and arrogant ­because they so


W ill Elliot t a nd Ke v in M a ier

readily consent to identifying nature with play and making it by definition a place where leisured ­humans come only to visit and not to work, stay, or live.”14 A similar distinction between h­ uman wants and nonhuman needs is made by Evan Linck in his essay, “Your Stoke ­Won’t Save Us.”15 Questioning the assumption that enthusiastic outdoors ­people are also effective conservationists, Linck argues that “recreationist-­driven conservation has historically failed to align with the princi­ples of conservation biology.” Published in High Country News, a regional paper whose commitment to green politics is announced in its masthead, which reads “For ­Those Who Care about the West,” Linck’s essay is meant to be provocative and surprising in its critique of “stoke”—­a term for that par­tic­u­lar joie de vivre associated with outdoor recreation. When Linck argues that “stoke” offers at best “a shaky bet for effecting the dramatic change necessary to halt accelerating ecological collapse,” he provides a sobering counternarrative both to an increasingly green-­branded outdoor industry, and to one of the dominant modes of understanding the broader cultural value of outdoor recreation. The potential disconnect that Linck registers between outdoor recreation and conservation politics may be especially evident when one considers skiing, an activity that can seem increasingly “unnatural” in the midst of global climate change. ­Because skiable snow, like arctic ice sheets and alpine glaciers, stands as a synecdoche for climate change, the carbon-­intensive consumption of snow by skiers—­ predominantly young, moneyed, male, and White—­can seem disturbingly out of touch, a per­for­mance of con­spic­u­ous consumption.16 This is all the more the case given the resource scarcity of good snow within the bounds of ski resorts; witness long lift lines on “powder days” and skiers’ rush to inscribe “first tracks” on the mountain, reminiscent of consumer spectacles such as Black Friday stampedes in urban settings. As another instance of the same prob­lem, scaled up, we might consider the proliferation of multimountain ski passes, or “megapasses.” The Mountain Collective pass is one of several of t­ hese recently developed collaborations between elite corporate-­owned resorts from around the globe, a $900 admission ticket to the groomed ski runs and mechanized chairlifts at a wide range of resorts. Instead of investing in one’s local ski area by buying day tickets or a season pass entitling a skier to r­ ide the chairlifts all winter, passes like t­hese allow their mobile o­ wners the opportunity to ski a set number of days at dozens of participating resorts. Wealthy pass holders with the luxury of traveling long distances on short notice can thus adapt to new low-­snow regimes, switching between distant resorts based on where the most snow has accumulated on a given weekend, and in the pro­cess, accelerating the very carbon pro­cesses that imperiled their home snowpacks. This strikes us as both a creative and troubling response among the ski community to the ways climate change has altered winter. Apparently without irony, the Mountain Collective pass comes with a complementary one-­year membership to Protect Our Winters, even as it serves as a representative anecdote for broader concerns about the inequity of how communities ­will adapt to climate change.17

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 207

Moreover, one might also object that skiing increasingly entails consumption not just of resources and experiences, but of images, too, as twenty-­first-­century outdoor recreation evolves from an embodied ecological practice into a social media per­for­mance, driven by market pressures and participants’ increasingly urban lifestyles. In a witheringly dry critique, David McGillivray and Matt Frew argue that outdoor recreation is shifting from the realm of the real ­toward “a theatrical per­for­mance” traded within online attention economies as social capital.18 The debate about w ­ hether stoke w ­ ill save us similarly hinges on the ways the images and affects of outdoor recreation have been commodified. From a skeptical perspective, stoke is reified as one more ­thing to be bought and sold in the ever proliferating markets of the attention economy. Updating White’s critique for the Instagram age, critics like McGillivray and Frew point out that even “to visit” is unnecessary; one can scroll, endlessly, through thumbnail-­sized renderings of the picturesque and sublime from the comfort of one’s own phone. In view of ­these objections, we agree that the environmental humanities need more complicated histories of leisure and l­abor. However, we would not go so far as to dismiss leisure categorically. Rather, we would call for more complicated examinations of how outdoor recreation interacts with conservation politics. This is especially true now, as the spotted owl that inspired the bumper sticker White analyzes in his famous essay has been replaced with a much more global set of issues on an Anthropocene scale. That conversation is not unique to skiing, of course. However, we would argue that taking leisure seriously means attending to the embodied, environmental specificity of discrete leisure activities, rather than conflating them as leisure “as such,” one abstract expenditure of time. We find backcountry skiing a particularly robust instance of play in the Anthropocene for a number of reasons. By “backcountry skiing,” we refer to human-­ powered skiing and snowboarding on undeveloped lands, beyond the bound­aries of ski resorts. Backcountry skiers and snowboarders ascend the mountain u­ nder their own power, typically by affixing synthetic fur “skins” to the underside of their skis to provide traction while climbing. For starters, we posit that the experience of backcountry skiing is ecological, in the sense that it attunes skiers closely to environmental conditions, with their very safety at stake. Influenced by f­ actors such as increased avalanche education among skiers, professionalization among guides, and investment in avalanche forecasting by state and nonprofit agencies, savvy skiers watch weather and snowpack closely, recording detailed and standardized observations, sharing them with other skiers, forecasters, and land man­ag­ers. Scientific equipment such as snow thermometers and magnifying loupes to assess the precise character of the snowpack are not unheard of in seasoned skiers’ backpacks, and basic avalanche assessment tools like shovels are common. Thus it could be argued that con­temporary backcountry skiing is as much a practice of data-­driven avalanche avoidance as it is a per­for­mance of athletic self-­assertion. Yet “snow science” remains an emerging discipline, and h­ uman f­ actors such as heuristic traps still snowball into tragedy for a highly vis­i­ble minority of backcountry skiers each


W ill Elliot t a nd Ke v in M a ier

year. To ski is therefore a dialectical experience, a dual attention to plea­sure and precarity. Its proper mindset is metacritical, an ongoing assessment of which intuitions should be trusted, which cognitive biases and physical sensations should be second-­guessed, to maintain a subjectively acceptable level of risk. In an Anthropocene context, this sense of precarity extends beyond the body, as well, linking skier and snow in a state of shared contingency on climate. Partly this awareness of precarity emerges from the ways that climate change turns backcountry skiers’ attention to time. Snow is a seasonal medium. Mountains are the throneroom of glaciation, as well as the reservoirs for many communities’ summer w ­ ater supplies. Both are synecdoches for climate change. This is to say that while ocean surfers once sought an “endless summer,” as a seminal 1966 surf culture film was titled, backcountry skiers are now faced with an ending winter, yet one that is at the same time endlessly ending, given thus far the decidedly geological pace of global climate change. Unlike the surfers who simply hopped a jet to find the next unpeopled surf break, backcountry skiers find snow imperiled globally. Therefore, if switching registers from the athletic to the theoretical w ­ ill not be too jarring ­here, we could borrow from Jacques Derrida to say that attentive backcountry skiers experience the “hauntological” quality of snow: not only in its immediate presence as that day’s snow, nor even its distributed presence as that season’s snowpack, but also in what we might call its spectrality, its haunted, simultaneous immediacy and absence as a harbinger of snowpacks ­future and a ghost of snowpacks past.19 This spectral quality of snow signals the frightening vulnerability of familiar climate regimes more generally, and therefore is a synecdoche for climate change. Perhaps it is this haunted quality that has often prompted other observers to focus on the melancholy implications of snowy temporalities like t­ hose we describe ­here. One might be reminded h­ ere of James Joyce’s novella The Dead, whose overwhelming sense of closure, signaled by snowfall and its cold whitening out of words and world, is written into the very syntax of its final line: that soul-­swooning chiasmus of “snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”20 The phi­los­o­pher Ted Toadvine takes a similar tack with another, cold, mineral medium—­not snow but stone, which he argues prompts h­ uman observers to acknowledge a “vertigo of deep time.”21 For Toadvine, “The phenomenological encounter with the vertigo of deep time, of which I catch a glimpse in the stone, is the echo within my body of an asubjective time of m ­ atter, of an unfathomably ancient passage that haunts the heart of the pre­sent. Beyond organic time, we encounter that dimension of our existence that resonates with the pulsation of the geological and the cosmic, that is, with elemental time in its broadest registers.”22 As in Joyce’s novella, this communion with the cosmic is far from hopeful. It is an apocalyptic encounter, as Toadvine argues, b­ ecause t­ hose “broadest registers” of geological time reach inevitably past one’s own and even the planet’s destruction.23 Surely snow, in its wordless, lithic, mineral inanimacy, its capacity for erasure, is a medium that prompts

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 209

melancholy reflection. This is especially the case given that snow itself is a medium not just of erasure, but ­under erasure, in a warming world. The skier’s intimacy with snow intensifies awareness of this dynamic, making skiing an especially apt mode for engaging this ele­ment of loss in climate change. That is, however much backcountry skiing in the Anthropocene entails an encounter with snow as trauma, as climate change, it also remains a leisure pursuit. It remains an experience of self-­expression and enjoyment, rooted in the pre­sent, in the par­tic­u­lar character of the snow beneath one’s skis or snowboard—­however somberly it remains haunted by past and ­future. Ultimately, by framing snow, winter, and climate in temporal superposition, backcountry skiing alerts skiers to potentially dismal ­futures for skiing, and the planet, yet it does so without foreclosing pre­sent attachments to practice and place. The precarity of winter politicizes backcountry skiing’s place in time, locating it on the cusp, or in the midst, of ecological “endtimes”—­yet at the same time, both the physical practice and seasonal setting of backcountry skiing bring to mind a resilient temporality beyond the myopic now of consumer culture. As a result, this ineluctably climate-­ conscious manner of backcountry skiing might be positioned to materialize alternative temporalities beyond merely providing “time off ” from the work of living on. Moreover, such temporalities might be re­entered into what is generally coded as working time, ultimately softening the labor/leisure distinction in the direction of leisure and play. We see skiing, then, as an impor­tant form of embodied ecological play, precisely ­because it is attuned to climate change. As an exploitation of friction and gravity, slope and snow, and an experience of speed and ease available to the ­human body through few other nonmotorized means, skiing as physical play may occupy the same sensuous terrain in which Audre Lorde locates “the erotic,” her term for a profound sense of embodied plea­sure and creative agency.24 Lorde’s notion of the erotic is part of a larger discussion about the politics of race and gender, and thus ironic, or at least may seem incongruous, to invoke ­here. However, we borrow her term nonetheless to position backcountry skiing at an intersection of embodiment, play, and power similar to ­those that Lorde considers. As she puts it, the erotic is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. . . . ​For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-­respect we can require no less of ourselves. . . . ​[It is] a mea­sure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is pos­si­ble.25

Finding joy in one corner of one’s life, Lorde argues, one thirsts for it everywhere, insistently unsatisfied thereafter with anything less. Similarly, the embodied joy of backcountry skiing is also reflective; recognizing a shared existential precarity


W ill Elliot t a nd Ke v in M a ier

between mortal ­human and melting mountain is a point of entry to environmental politics. It is at this three-­way intersection of politics, play, and the Anthropocene—in the form of global climate change—­that we locate Protect Our Winters. Founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2007 by the snowboarding icon Jeremy Jones, Protect Our Winters (POW) aims to turn “passionate outdoor p­ eople into effective climate advocates.”26 As their website proclaims, “POW leads a community of athletes, thought pioneers and forward-­thinking business leaders to affect systemic po­liti­cal solutions to climate change.” Right now, they argue, “we have the luxury of worrying about how climate change might impact the outdoor industry. Right now, we get to help dictate the outcome rather than react to a foregone conclusion. If we sit on our hands for the next two de­cades, we w ­ on’t be worried about powder days, tourism or having fun. W ­ e’ll be worried about the stability of our environment, our jobs and our economy.”27 Many inhabitants of the planet are already consumed by worry about jobs and unable to make time to seek joy. Yet in our view, this does not diminish the urgency of Protect Our Winters and its appeals. For one ­thing, snow sports are not the opposite of the economy. As Protect Our Winters messaging repeatedly maintains, the U.S. snow sports industry employs more than all the extractive industries combined, driving a $72 billion a year enterprise. While this employment statistic offers a concrete example of the potential to shift cultural focus away from extraction and ­toward care and play—­ one of the primary arguments of this volume also exemplified in chapters 9 and 11—­this statistic is also meant to draw attention to the fact that the end of snow means the end of the industry. To be sure, the Protect Our Winters co­ali­tion invokes this potential, apocalyptically and existentially, to mobilize a global network of “60 million winter sports participants.” Embedded in their appeals to donors and potential activists is the warning that winter could vanish. Consequently, in the past ten years, Protect Our Winters has grown into a large grassroots campaign, with 150,000 members, a significant media presence, and a team of “ambassadors” drawn from the top ranks of professional skiers and snowboarders, working to create the po­liti­cal ­will for meaningful action on climate by policymakers. Like t­ hose of 350​.­org, another climate-­focused campaign, the tactics of Protect Our Winters are fairly mainstream; they help or­ga­nize marches, create social media hashtags, and facilitate letter-­writing campaigns to pressure elected officials. Yet, as the founder of Protect Our Winters, Jones is an unexpected climate activist. On the one hand, not only is the carmaker Subaru one of Jones’s sponsors, but competing in his sport requires flying around the globe as both tourist and resource extractor, staging and filming new per­for­mances on new mountains, hunting powder by he­li­cop­ter at forty-­five gallons per hour. It can be too easy to condemn a figure like Jones for such consumption, but the logic of risk and precarity, applied above to the act of skiing, also applies ­here with regard to social change. To shift global environmental habits, we w ­ ill need to undertake some risks, sometimes

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 211

using the means of production and consumption against themselves, yet without pretending ecological innocence. Jones’s rugged good looks and unpre­ce­dented athletic feats afford him unparalleled visibility in snowsports culture, and in parallel with Protect Our Winters efforts, Jones has capitalized on the creative freedom afforded him by celebrity to begin a new phase of his backcountry snowboarding ­career, combining the human-­powered “fair means” ethics of mountaineering with his skills as a professional snowboarder. The result is an innovative trilogy of backcountry-­focused films—­Further, Deeper, and Higher (2012–2014)—­whose emphasis on climbing up the mountain to r­ ide down has changed the way many recreationalists think about snow sports, shifting skiing away from lift tickets and groomed snow.28 While ­earlier athletes had already established many of the athletic and ethical norms that Jones would adopt and promote as his own brand of backcountry snowboarding, Jones’s greater mainstream visibility has allowed him to push the industry in more significant ways, including ­toward conventional activism. Admittedly, the day-­to-­day work of being a professional athlete does not necessarily position Protect Our Winters snow-­sports stars to speak about climate justice in technically or theoretically rigorous ways, nor to join impor­tant conversations about issues of race, class, or colonialism. However, Protect Our Winters spokespeople are uniquely positioned to begin rectifying the environmental damage inflicted by the consumption habits of the privileged minority they represent. As an admittedly elitist, luxury pursuit, backcountry skiing becomes a way to reach the wealthy and well-­connected demographic historically most responsible for, and well-­positioned to mitigate, the effects of climate change. This is the same equation that made the Sierra and Boone and Crockett Clubs effective: get a group of wealthy well-­connected recreationists together, unite them around a singular cause (preserving wild areas to hike or setting aside large swaths of land so big-­game animals can survive), and watch the cultural and po­liti­cal needle shift ­toward conservation. Moreover, by creating greater awareness of the precarity of life in the Anthropocene, Protect Our Winters has broadened its work to begin thinking about social and environmental justice as well. Working with Protect Our Winters, Jones’s most recent film links climate change and backcountry pursuits. Titled Ode to Muir, the film debuted at festivals across the American West in the fall 2018.29 Ostensibly an account of a human-­ powered eight-­day traverse to climb and ­ride high Sierra peaks in the John Muir Wilderness Area, the film’s parallel narrative arcs are explic­itly po­liti­cal. ­There are two h­ uman stories ­here to accompany the usual stunning visual footage found in outdoor films: one is an account of Jones’s journey from snowboard icon to climate activist, and the other is an account of Jones as elder statesmen bringing along the younger generation. In par­tic­ul­ar, Jones teams up with Elena Hight, an accomplished Olympian and X Games freestyle rider. As Hight comes from the world of resort snowboarding, this trip marks her first time winter camping and skiing in the backcountry; she thus serves as an intermediary with whom urban


W ill Elliot t a nd Ke v in M a ier

viewers without strong ties to the backcountry may identify and become invested in the places and practices the film portrays. Both stories serve to drive home the conservation narrative of the film itself. As we see our protagonists hiking with heavy packs into the wilderness, a series of voice-­overs quote John Muir, most of them appealing to now-­conventional arguments about the importance of getting outside and finding beauty in “nature.” In ­these passages, nature is figured as “church,” as a place to find “peace” and “freedom,” and ultimately as something that Muir realized needed to be “saved.” As Jones summarizes in his lilting Southern California idiom, “­You’ve got to get out in nature, fall in love with nature, [before] you want to proj­ect nature.” Although the film’s first half makes t­ hese traditional appeals to wilderness values, the second half complicates them with an explicit climate change message, told through the parallel stories of Jones’s and Hight’s lives beyond the snow. Arguing that one of the reasons our elected officials do not believe in climate change is that they d­ on’t get outside anymore, the film makes sure to remind us that winter recreational pursuits are imperiled. Neatly illustrated slides point out that two of the Sierra glaciers Muir climbed have lost 80 ­percent of their mass since he studied them, and that “glacier surface area in the western United States has dropped by 40% since the 1950s.” To make sure the audience understands the implications, Jones notes that he is starting to hear about “last descents.” In a sport where, historically, value has been placed on being first to climb, ski, or ­ride a peak, a new category is emerging where changing climate means nobody w ­ ill be able to follow your path to r­ ide par­tic­ul­ ar lines. The film is also careful to point out that it is not just remote mountain ski lines at stake, but drinking w ­ ater and agricultural production, too. As Jones and his crew refill their ­water b­ ottles from melting snow, he gives us a hydrology lesson that is punctuated by slides reminding us that “snow in the Sierras provides up to 60% of California’s ­water supply,” which “25 million ­people” rely on. (Not coincidentally, the scene is characterized by gratuitous product placement for YETI. One of the film’s sponsors, YETI makes expensive w ­ ater ­bottles and coolers.) We also learn that this ­water irrigates three million acres of agricultural land where 25 ­percent of the nation’s food is produced, and 66 ­percent of the nation’s fruit and nuts are grown. Jones’s narration establishes how he came to realize that Muir’s conservation message is more impor­tant than ever in light of t­ hese climate facts, as he uses his own account of conversion to po­liti­cal activist to bring his touring partner Hight on board. As we see two headlamps slowing making their way back to camp in the moonlight on one of their last days, for example, we hear Jones pontificating, telling Hight that the ­water, trees, and snow they have been enjoying so much is not “threatened by bulldozers, so to speak, but it is definitely threatened by climate change.” Hight is receptive to the message. As she recounts how the trip has transformed her sense of the sport of snowboarding, she notes she’s also convinced she has to do something about preserving the winter it requires. ­Here the Muir quotes return, amplifying our sense that impor­tant perspectives are gained on trips to

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 213

wild nature, and that ­these experiences inevitably lead to the po­liti­cal w ­ ill to create change. In the film’s conclusion, Jones quips that he’s climbed a lot of mountains, but none have been as hard as Capitol Hill. The concluding credits are punctuated with hopeful images of climate f­ utures: newsreel footage about Eu­rope’s move to renewable energy, Jones in suit and tie cracking jokes about his reluctant po­liti­cal life while testifying in Congress, images from the 2018 Climate March on Washington, and a final screen that points out, “This film is 100% Carbon Neutral.” While this carbon-­neutral messaging is certainly pre­sent, the bulk of the film’s footage features joyful snowboarding in stunning terrain. The arresting images of this more-­than-­ human world give the places depicted a kind of voice; we can even perhaps understand such imagery as a partnership of sorts between h­ uman means of production and mountain landscapes. In addition, despite our climate-­focused account of the film, t­ here is ultimately more laughter and “stoke” than climate fact h­ ere. While the lines are steep and technical, the emphasis is more on turns and travel in remote landscapes, and on the conversation the trip enables, than on risk or spectacular feats of athleticism. Importantly, it all happens in a region claimed as Jones’s backyard. When Hight asks Jones what’s next for his ­career, instead of appealing to the ethos of his ­earlier films, Deeper, Further, Higher, he suggests that exploring the backyard is the ­future of his snowboarding—­and therefore, of the sport itself. In short, this is a film explic­itly designed to lead to recreationist activism and a sense of local commitment to place. It suggests that joyful play, not rigid ideological positions, is essential to creating t­ hese positive activist identities. In a concluding section of the film about ­dying whitebark pines and California’s intensifying wildfires, for example, Jones says, “I think of the trees a lot; I think of the sunrises and sunsets it has seen, its ability to bend in the wind, to not be rigid. Rigid ­doesn’t ­really work in nature. I ­don’t think it works in life ­either.” We see Jones joyfully leaning on one such tree he calls a “friend” and an “Elder” shortly a­ fter he explains to Hight why the United States needs to stay in the Paris climate agreements. The implicit claim ­here is that facing complicated climate f­ utures w ­ ill require a trans­ historical mix of reverential, biophilic Muir-­based approaches, a sense of flexible playful joy, and a hard-­nosed commitment to rolling up one’s sleeves and getting down to the work of politics. Jones and Protect Our Winters remain an impor­tant case study for leisure in the Anthropocene ­because the specific leisure practices they promote position backcountry skiing squarely within, not as an escape from, climate politics. One of the ways Jones (and, to a degree, Protect Our Winters) does so is by promoting human-­powered recreation over motorized pursuits. If one lesson of the Anthropocene is that industrial excesses have driven us to our current predicament, then the lifestyle politics promoted by winter sports culture may be understood as placing skiing in tension with the extractive economies that have enabled it, in the sense that they emphasize human-­powered versus motorized play. In par­tic­ul­ar, Jones’s portrayal of backcountry skiing as an ethical alternative to more fossil


W ill Elliot t a nd Ke v in M a ier

fuels-­intensive approaches links the sport’s core ethos to an overt conservation politics. It also contributes to an ongoing conversation about how the products of fossil-­fueled consumer capitalism, from synthetic clothing to carbon fiber skis, materialize skiers’ complicity in the very climate changes that the ­future of their sport demands they oppose. Nonetheless, ­there remains significant room for improvement for both Jones’s films and Protect Our Winters messaging. Jones’s glorification of his post-­carbon backcountry exploits repeatedly appeals to conventional wilderness values and lionizes Muir, for example, while Protect Our Winters messaging is deeply embedded in a carbon-­calculator calculus and large-­scale po­liti­cal solutions. Although we see ele­ments of playfulness embedded in ­these approaches to activism, the politics too frequently seem constrained by, and thus may perpetuate, a po­liti­cal moment that expects tropes from the preceding ­century’s notions of conservation politics. To be sure, a further limitation of this nascent po­liti­cal movement is its minimal engagement with climate justice, especially in American contexts where recreation is closely tied to resource extraction history, and where land use politics too frequently fails to account for the ongoing history of colonization. We bring up this point not to dismiss backcountry skiing as an instrument of colonization, especially in terms of its energy economies, insofar as so many of its meccas may be traced back to mining in the American West or oil development in Alaska. Rather, we register a missed opportunity. For example, what would it look like for the snowsports industry—­branding itself as less consumptive, more climate-­conscious recreation—to stand in solidarity with Alaska Native or Inuit communities whose own traditions of winter l­abor and leisure are imperiled by climate change? Or, in the case of Jones’s Ode to Muir, what would happen—­ aesthetically, rhetorically, or politically—­were the film to acknowledge that the Sierras are not simply a picturesque backdrop for Muir’s and Jones’s mythmaking, timelessly natu­ral and wild, but, instead, already by Muir’s nineteenth c­ entury a violently contested landscape? Indeed, Muir’s mythmaking of the Sierras may be understood as one act in the vast and systematic dispossession of Indigenous ­peoples across the American West.30 Positioning himself as heir to Muir’s green politics and cultural prestige, Jones would do well to consult the work of American studies scholars like Susan Kollin, whose critique of Muir’s travels among the glaciers of Southeast Alaska—­part of the region that would ­later propel extreme skiing into the global spotlight—­remains indispensable for understanding how such figures and locales function in the American popu­lar imagination.31 Despite t­ hese rhetorical and conceptual limitations, however, Protect Our Winters and Jones’s brand of mainstream activism is nevertheless impor­tant, partly ­because it has opened space for even more playful approaches to the sport and activism. One example is the grassroots conservation campaign Stickers for Conservation, or­ga­nized by the adventurer and environmental data scientist Luc Mehl. To incentivize individual po­liti­cal actions such as calling a legislator, the Stickers for Conservation campaign rewards participants with small bumper stickers

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 215

created by local artists. Rather than promoting a brand or proclaiming a pithy slogan, the stickers depict specific Alaskan landscapes. They are meant to inspire the kind of attachment to place on which, stoke aside, “saving” them depends. One sticker implicitly addresses climate change in the context of winter recreation. In d­ oing so, it demonstrates the nuance and complexity with which outdoor recreation culture is offering po­liti­cal responses to Anthropocene issues like global climate change. Originally rendered in egg tempera by the artist Deland Anderson, North Gulf Coast W ­ aters depicts the Alaska Current, a power­ful counterclockwise gyre of warm ocean ­water in the Gulf of Alaska, swirling up against the glaciated coastline near the port town of Seward (see Figure 10.1). Anderson, a former philosophy professor, describes his work as visualizing “the forces that give shape to my favorite places. . . . ​­Under the pressure of development many of our places are changing rapidly or just plain being rubbed out.”32 In this piece, t­ hose forces are ­water, wind, temperature, and topography, interacting with and against one another to produce the region’s rugged coast, rough weather, and skiable snow. Yet North Gulf Coast W ­ aters is more than a personal image of a favorite place, extending its evocations far beyond the local. For one t­ hing, the artwork also registers the impacts of another force: the po­liti­cal. Focusing on Seward, Alaska, the artwork alludes to the U.S. secretary of state William Seward, the architect of the Alaska Purchase, and proponent of an “America-­first” expansionist ideology whose con­temporary iterations undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions domestically and worldwide.33 In ­doing so, the artwork situates the Western history of the state in relation to U.S. imperialism, implicated ­here as a force of climate change. Zooming in, other complexities emerge. Its top-­down, topographical perspective on the north coast and its microclimate also resembles the now-­familiar meteorological imagery of hurricanes bearing down on the continent’s other Gulf Coast, referencing therefore both the localized impacts and global scale of climate change. Moreover, rendered as a matrix of tiny dots, the image suggests not only the colorful beadwork of Seward’s original Alutiiq inhabitants but also Greek mosaic, evoking thereby both Western and indigenous ways of seeing, knowing, and dwelling in the North. In an interview, Anderson distances his style from Western art, pointillism in par­tic­ul­ar, citing Maori and Australian Aboriginal influences; yet perhaps ­there remains in the meticulous dots of North Gulf Coast ­Waters the suggestion of pixels, such that the image ultimately evokes not only the aforementioned older, organic art forms but also computerized data visualization.34 Thus, on an aesthetic level, the artwork not only encompasses past and ­future on a Western humanist timeline but also evokes multiple timelines, beyond humanism, and beyond the West. The image suggests how climate change prompts ­human socie­ties to widen the conventional climate imaginary, thinking environment and culture on multiple, and much bigger, historical and geographic scales. In short, Jones’s and Mehl’s efforts demonstrate how backcountry skiing can link participants to a positive activist identity, one that emphasizes attachments to par­tic­ul­ ar places through a sense of risk and responsibility. Th ­ ese attachments and


W ill Elliot t a nd Ke v in M a ier

figure 10.1. North Gulf Coast ­Waters, by Deland Anderson. Used by permission of the artist.

forms of ecological awarenesses are increasingly leading skier-­activists to craft overt po­liti­cal campaigns that move beyond identity to a­ ctual on-­the-­ground policy suggestions. Yet while we want to celebrate t­ hese as emergent and impor­tant, we also remain circumspect about what organ­izations like Protect Our Winters can achieve within their mainstream-­conscious constraints. One action email from Protect Our Winters, associated with the P ­ eople’s Climate March of 2018,

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 217

exhorted recipients to march in protest and align themselves on social media with ­#March4POW. However, the efficacy of such hashtags remains to be seen, especially given such practices as #followforfollow or #likeforlike, forms of trading social capital whereby users mutually “like” or “follow” each other to boost their scores in the numbers game of monetized online attention. The social media mechanics of such campaigns blur the lines between effective grassroots politics and the mere trading of social capital within an echo chamber of one’s own “friends.” At the same time, however, we would still maintain that backcountry skiing as a climate-­conscious practice forces participants to think much wider, on a global, more-­than-­human scale. As we have shown, the systems brought into view by backcountry skiing in the Anthropocene encompass capitalism and climate, peak-­ oil petroculture and the materials economy, social networks, and the politics of land management, to name a few key concerns. This is to say nothing of the microscale ecologies skiers construct through their analyses of snowpack, terrain, and social ­factors with each visit to a given mountain. Crucially, this perspective encompasses backcountry skiers’ own complicity as elite consumers in the very cir­cuits of carbon production that imperil their activity to begin with. If climate change inescapably haunts Anthropocene experience, then backcountry skiing is impor­tant b­ ecause it focuses participants on climate change more intensely than many other outdoor activities. This issue of complicity within systems is central to our notion of learning to play in the Anthropocene. In the face of nihilistic politics of the Anthropocene, and the zero-­sum fortress world such thinking encourages, one might retain instead a sense of playful irony, where ideologically rigid positions are set aside for a sense of our inherent contradictions as a consuming species on the planet. The embodied relationship to imperiled places that backcountry skiing enacts, and the sport’s loosely countercultural ethos as a demanding, committing leisure practice animated by an aesthetic of risk, both lend themselves to playful activist identities, which we think are critically impor­tant equipment for facing Anthropocene ­futures that conventional environmental rhe­ toric encourages us to imagine apocalyptically. What remains to be seen is w ­ hether related stakeholders ­will follow suit or remain mired in the game of identities that currently fragments winter recreationists’ collective po­liti­cal clout. Two constituencies of special importance are land management agencies and the motorsports industry—­especially in the Alaskan and Canadian rural north, where the use of snowmachines and private aircraft for hunting and transportation has long blurred the lines of ­labor and leisure. ­These two constituencies have the power e­ ither to maintain spaces for the kind of ecological encounters we associate with backcountry skiing or allow them to dis­appear at the behest of resource developers, he­li­cop­ter tourism outfits, snowmobile clubs, or other users whose land use patterns conflict with t­ hose valorized by Mehl, or Jones’s Ode to Muir. In making this argument, we do not mean to imply a hierarchy of leisure pursuits. Such ideologies are already vis­i­ble in the promotional rhe­toric of vari­ous winter sports: skiing in superiority to snowboarding, snowmachining in antagonism


W ill Elliot t a nd Ke v in M a ier

to skiing. In both cases, an expression of class anxiety issues from within perceived ­labor–­leisure divides. Th ­ ese antagonisms extend the long-­established mutual animus between supposedly “low culture” (i.e., working-­class) recreational pursuits like motorized sports and supposedly “high culture” (i.e., leisure-­class) pursuits that take only pictures and leave no trace. At stake is the perceived class designation between, on one hand, playing with the motorized tools of l­ abor, and on the other, performing the luxury of recreating in a gratuitously unproductive way—­like traveling by h­ uman power alone, or better yet, skiing up hill. A po­liti­cal cartoon visualizes this tension; it depicts a large pickup truck pulling a trailer with multiple snowmachines, cresting a hill, while a lone backcountry skier swoops across the slope below him. “Elitist bastard!” the driver yells, in an ironic critique of the ways that class and cultural anx­i­eties skew our assessments of l­abor and leisure, privilege and responsibility.35 On the contrary, we mean to point out that Protect Our Winters and related campaigns point to a collapse of ­these divides. If the Anthropocene demands new ways of conceptualizing how conservation politics works, we suggest that backcountry skiing and its emerging po­liti­cal dimensions prompt us to move beyond ­simple “carbon-­calculator” approaches to weighing the value of our ­labor or leisure. Instead, we argue that an account of the complex cultural, social, and embodied physicality of outdoor recreation, with backcountry skiing as one par­tic­ul­ar example, might posit more productive ways to reconceptualize traditional bound­aries—­and ultimately, to take seriously the work of learning to play in the Anthropocene.

Notes 1. ​V. Masson-­Delmotte et  al., eds., “A Summary for Policymakers,” in IPCC Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C (Geneva: World Meteorological Organ­ization, 2018), http://­www​.i­ pcc​ .­ch​/­report​/­sr15​/­. 2. ​John Robert McNeill and Peter Engelke, The ­Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). 3. ​Justin Guariglia and Timothy Morton, We Are the Asteroid III, public art installation, Houston, TX, 2019. 4. ​Eileen Crist, “On the Poverty of Our Nomenclature,” Environmental Humanities 3 (2013): 140, 144. 5. ​Timothy Morton, “This Is Not My Beautiful Biosphere,” in A Cultural History of Climate Change, ed. Tom Bristow and Thomas H. Ford (New York: Routledge, 2016), 232. 6. ​Morton, 229. 7. ​Timothy Morton, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Term Anthropocene,” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 1, no. 2 (2014): 257–264. 8. ​Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trou­ble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016). 9. ​Haraway, 99–100. 10. ​Haraway, 101. 11. ​Haraway, 101. 12. ​Dan Phillipon, Conserving Words: How American Nature Writers S ­ haped the Environmental Movement (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005).

Learning to Play in the Anthropocene 219

13. ​Richard White, “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist, or Do You Work for a Living?’ Work and

Nature,” in Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the H ­ uman Place in Nature, ed. William Cronon (New York: Norton, 1995), 171–185. 14. ​White, 173. 15. ​Even Linck, “Your Stoke ­Won’t Save Us,” High Country News 50, no. 8 (2018), https://­www​ .­hcn​.­org​/­issues​/­50​.­8​/­recreation​-­your​-­stoke​-­wont​-­save​-­us. 16. ​Julie Brown, “Bring More Diversity to Skiing,” Powder, January  19, 2017, https://­www​ .­powder​.­com​/­stories​/­opinion​/­extend​-­the​-­family​/­. 17. ​ Mountain Collective, “Intro,” Mountain Collective, accessed January  17, 2019, https://­ mountaincollective​.­com. 18. ​David McGillivray and Matt Frew, “Capturing Adventure: Trading Experiences in the Symbolic Economy,” Annals of Leisure Research 10, no. 1 (2007): 54–78. 19. ​Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International (New York: Routledge, 1994), 10, 161. 20. ​James Joyce, “The Dead,” Dubliners (New York: Dover Thrift Editions, 1991), 152. 21. ​Ted Toadvine, “The End of All Th ­ ings: Geomateriality and Deep Time,” Investigaciones Fenomenológicas 7 (2018): 385. 22. ​Toadvine, 385. 23. ​Toadvine, 388. 24. ​Audre Lorde, “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” in ­Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press, 1984), 53–59. 25. ​Lorde, 54–57. 26. ​Protect Our Winters, LLC, “About Us—­POW: POW,” Protect Our Winters, accessed January 16, 2019, https://­protectourwinters​.­org​/­about​-u­ s​/­. 27. ​Protect Our Winters, LLC, “About Us.” 28. ​ Further (Wilson, WY: Teton Gravity Research, 2012); Deeper (Wilson, WY: Teton Gravity Research, 2013); and Higher (Wilson, WY: Teton Gravity Research, 2014), films directed by Jeremy Jones. 29. ​ Ode to Muir (Wilson, WY: Teton Gravity Research, 2018), film directed by Jeremy Jones. 30. ​Brendan C. Lindsay, Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide, 1846–1873 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012). 31. ​Susan Kollin, “The Wild, Wild North: Nature Writing, Nationalist Ecologies, and Alaska,” American Literary History 12, no. 1/2 (Spring–­Summer 2000): 41–78. 32. ​Deland Anderson, “Artist’s Statement,” Deland Anderson, accessed January 18, 2019, https://­ artists​.c­ a​/­anderson​/­. 33. ​William Seward, “The Promise of Alaska” (public address, Sitka, Alaska Territory, August 12, 1869). 34. ​Deland Anderson, “Deland Anderson, the Late Bloomer,” Mishkalo, accessed January 18, 2019, https://­mishkalo​.­com​/­deland​-­anderson​/­. 35. ​Jon Herman, “Elitist Bastard,” in Trail Break: The Winter Wildlands Alliance Newsletter (Boise, ID: Winter Wildlands Alliance, 2018), 10.

11 ▶ WE AVING “LIFEWORKINGS” Goanna Walking between Humanism and Posthumanism, Dharug ­Women’s Way JO ANNE REY

A Place of Welcome and Acknowl­edgments Warami Mittigar (Welcome Friends). Welcome into Dharug Nura (Country), being the places, productions, practices, and presences associated with Dharug-­ speaking ­peoples, and including the millions of ­others in Nura ­today. Dharug Nura covers most of what is also known as Sydney, Australia. As is custodial practice, we welcome visitors and pay our re­spects to Elders, past, pre­sent, and forthcoming, recognizing they always have been and always ­will be caring for Country. This chapter privileges Australian Aboriginal ways of being, knowing, and ­doing. Shifting perspectives includes how we think about work. For example, this chapter is a production of Dharug Nura as it arises from and belongs to the presences, the places and ­people informing its production ­because we are in relationship. This work is written from the place of the traditional Gammeraigal ­people’s Nura, which is one of around twenty-­nine f­ amily groups that lived and cared for Dharug Country 220

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 221

before the White invasion. Its production is thus perceived as giving back to Country, ­because the message carried promotes caring for Country. I also acknowledge my own connection to Wallumattagal Nura—­the place and ­people of the Black Snapper fish, from which I grew, and where Macquarie University and my doctoral supervisors are located. Gammeraigal and Wallumattagal Nura are Dharug neighbors. By including this acknowl­edgment, I am showing re­spect and caring for both ­peoples and countries. When we spend time respecting and caring, is this work? Further, I acknowledge my colonized heritage, being a descendant of five First Fleet British convicts and one American slave First Fleet convict, all of whom arrived on our shores in 1788. As they are also f­ amily, the acknowl­edgment shows re­spect and care for ­these Ancestors who originated from other countries. Is this work? Fi­nally, as this chapter also comes from the knowledges of our seven Dharug “sistas,” I acknowledge and re­spect their belongings to Nura through the ­peoples and places of the Boorooberongal (kangaroo of Richmond, New South Wales), and Warmuli (possum of Prospect, New South Wales). All ­these p­ eople, places, and presences are ­family, by relationship, and together ­were interwoven within the production of the doctoral thesis “Country Tracking Voices: Dharug ­Women’s Perspectives on Presences, Places and Practices.”1 This chapter is informed by the findings of that production. Often the writing of a doctoral thesis is classed as work. Yet, when work is seen through the conditions of belonging, caring, and connecting, through the relational perspectives of times/sharing and storytelling, then the condition known as work becomes more than the drudgery associated with enforced ­labor. Understanding our sentience as relational changes our sense of the conditions and relationships within which we occupy ourselves. “Work” changes its condition from a binary state of negative or positive, to a condition of multiplicity. Conversely, seeing work through a relational lens offers opportunities for connecting, caring, and belonging. For example, this chapter offers an opportunity to engage in the work of knowledge transmission in the context of one group of seven Dharug w ­ omen’s understandings. It aims to show how resilience and well-­being can be fostered when work participation is centered in belonging, caring, and connecting to presences, places, and practices. Walking between binaries I ­will argue involves Goannas—­our monitor lizards. ­There are twenty-­eight species of Goanna in Australia, and while having a variety of sizes, their shape over millennia has never changed. Although commonly noted for their sharp claws and savage bite—­thus creatures to be avoided by h­ umans—­what is impor­tant in this context is that when they walk in sands or across open dirt spaces, they leave a trailing tail line that weaves centrally between their four clawed footprints. Such a trailing tail line can be likened to a tale, as we see how it weaves across its landscape—­a trailing-­tail tale, to be read by ­others. Negotiating between the steps on the left and the steps on the right, we recognize a third space between the binaries. In the context of “work,” Goanna walking is a way of engaging between the binaries of good work and bad


Jo A nne Re y

work. It allows room for work to be considered as transformative across the landscape of our lives. It thus opens us to the concept of “lifeworkings.”2

Changing Places Transforming work lives into “lifeworkings” is at the crux of issues around how ­humans spend time, survive, and thrive. However, it also involves how ­humans and other-­than-­humans manage their relationships and coexistence for mutual well-­being. Given the domination of the planet by ­humans perpetrating mass extinctions of other species, the understanding of the role of the growing separation of ­humans from other species and the separation of h­ umans from each other raises impor­tant questions around sustainability, well-­being, and the need for systemic fundamental change for mutual survival. In response to ­these kinds of considerations, the work of Janine Benyus showed us how biomimicry, as innovation inspired by nature, could provide impor­tant alternatives to fossil fuel and other toxic technologies.3 Yet biomimicry cannot replace au­then­tic engagement of being-­with-in nature. It does not engender empathic relationships or caring for other-­than-­humans. More than twenty years ­after the development of biomimicry, toxic technologies still dominate and undermine well-­being—­human and other-­than-­human. So, the solution to sustainable healthy environments, including working environments, involves changing the mindsets that are dedicated to keeping toxic technologies, practices, and mentalities alive that privilege the ­human over the ­others. This requires changing the patriarchal, human-­centric status quo and preoccupation that has dominated western values since at least the time of Plato.4 Understanding our place within nature relies on our not being separated from or above other-­than-­humans but recognizing our de­pen­dency upon and engagement with all. Transforming work and workplaces into relational encounters for being-­ with-in nature changes the meaning, practice, and sense of well-­being that ­humans and other-­than-­humans need for sustainability. It transforms the concept of “work” as a separation—­a removal or extraction from “life” (as the i­ magined ideal)—to a role of belonging, contributing, connecting, and caring. As bell hooks, quoting her grand­father, in the context of American Black populations, reminds us, “By leaving the country for the city, black p­ eople traded a culture of ‘­doing ­things’ with one of ‘buying ­things,’ developing feelings of displacement, alienation, and loneliness as well as internalized racism.”5 This quote reminds us that not only have ­there been changes away from local, home-­based sites of employment, but a cultural change has developed as a trade-­off in how we spend time. The trade-­off involves, on the one hand, time spent in paid employment (which in large metropolitan cities like Sydney includes traveling time across long distances to get to and from work) for the sake of buying, owning, and acquiring financial and material wealth as a form of security. On the other hand, what is being traded is time spent “­doing ­things” locally in immediate relationship

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 223

and connection with places, ­peoples, and presences to which we belong. This trade-­ off has resulted in separations and delayed, symbolic gratifications. We cannot be rewarded through buying the latest symbol of success and status ­until we have received the pay packet. Personal reward and work are thus disconnected when seen through the lens of money as the sole purpose for consuming time. However, another understanding of “work” has continued for more than 65,000 years. Work as a relational practice of belonging, caring, and connecting to presences, in local spaces, using transgenerational place-­based knowledges, for the sustainability and well-­being of ­humans and other-­than-­humans has been known by Australian Aboriginal p­ eoples for millennia and continues t­ oday, even when it takes place in a cosmopolitan globalized city, such as Sydney, Australia. Colonizing notions of work therefore are not inevitable. Perceiving that they are only part of the continuing narratives that arise from t­hose with vested interests in maintaining them provides opportunities for re­sis­tance and resilience. This continuity involves Dharug Country: an ancestral place of belonging and connection (physically and metaphysically) even though it is now the colonized, cosmopolitan, and urbanized city of Sydney, where millions of workers, families, and other-­than-­humans reside together. Within the context of querying the gap between imported (1788) colonized mentalities and t­hose of the Dharug and other Aboriginal p­ eoples, the question of dif­fer­ent notions of work arises: How do Dharug custodians continue cultural practices and obligations around caring for Country? Relatedly, how can Dharug understandings assist ­others re-­vision work for the benefit of all sentient beings? It is proposed that this happens by decentering humanist values and recentering Indigenous ways of knowing and d­ oing into daily lives, including work. The role of yarning (an Australian Aboriginal En­glish term for sharing stories) is integral, as an approach which affects attitudes and practices that reconceptualizes how time is spent.6 Yarning (as lifeworking) in sites of cultural and personal significance deepens the value we place on locations and our relationships with ­those places, rather than promoting materialism and consumerism. Yarning as relational time, place-­and knowledge-­sharing dissolves compartmentalizing agency—­the narratives of “them” and “us,” or “boss and “worker,” or “man­ag­er” and “receptionist.” Compartmentalizing work, with its hierarchical placement and categorization of roles, as separate from and dif­fer­ent from leisure ignores and undervalues our interconnections with ­others—­human and other-­than-­human. It prevents us from realizing the condition whereby our sensibilities connect us with other-­than-­ humans, allowing us to be more-­than-­human through our interconnections. However, yarning, as a relational place and cultural practice, repositions the place of materialism. Weaving times spent ­doing, yarning, and transmitting localized, transgenerational knowledges dissolves separations from ­peoples, places, and presences. Such practices do not rely on biomimicry to resolve ­human needs. They rely on understanding our relationships as a web of interconnectivity (see Figure 11.1) and demonstrate how the continuity of Dharug (and more broadly Australian


Jo A nne Re y

figure 11.1. Dharug Nura Web of Interrelatedness, by Jo Anne Rey, 2019.

Aboriginal) customary values sustains custodians and their ability to undertake their cultural obligations, even when Country is a city of workers. Yarning in the city enables caring for Nura, through localized connections, knowledge transmissions, and belonging. Bringing Aboriginal knowledges, practices, and perspectives into posthumanist discourses already taking place on and off Dharug Nura can offer approaches and insights that can create change in the era of the Anthropocene. ­Doing so also reminds the acad­emy that posthumanism did not commence from western scholarship but has been understood for multimillennia.7 In order to offer an alternative perspective to work and life as separate constructs, this chapter weaves together several contexts. First, Dharug w ­ omen’s knowledges and their practices of caring for Country-­as-­city, are demonstrated from yarning examples in “Country Tracking Voices.” Th ­ ese are positioned as the core. Second, the place of spirit work, Indigenous story work, and lifeworkings contribute relevant perspectives.8 Third, cosmopo­liti­cal discourses around urban ­futures and climate justices bring localized currency in climate-­changed cities that can be contextualized more broadly.9 I argue that human-­centric practices and values result in work environments that are dis-­integrating, continue colonization

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 225

and are, therefore, recolonizing. I propose that the key to understanding the solution rests in understanding the mismatch in values.

The Prob­lem of Mismatched Values ­ ere is a deep divide in the value systems fostered by western intellectual frameTh works and ­those of Australian Aboriginal ­peoples. Humanist values are self-­centric, with individualized material success promoted as the way to achieve happiness and security. The broader social values underpinning this exhaustive/exhausting materialism involves the fallacy of ­human “pro­gress” as integral to ­human well-­ being. Profits are narrated as essential for businesses, so they can (theoretically) employ more workers, and p­ eople who are working are earning money and can therefore be happy/happier and more secure. As Val Plumwood shows, the rise of modernity and consumerism in the west occurred through the primarily patriarchal Christian narratives of h­ uman (predominantly male) entitlement: to use the environment as they saw fit and to colonize other places, b­ ecause western Christian knowledge was positioned as superior to any other. Such western narratives underpin the concept of “pro­gress.”10 From a Dharug perspective, ­these mentalities, broadly speaking, determined the arrival of Captain James Cook on the Endeavour in 1770, intending to secure the lands now called Australia for the British Crown. This excursion was followed in 1788 by the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip, and the First Fleet of eleven ships containing more than four hundred convicts, with the intent of establishing a penal colony for dumping ­those seen as excess ­human wastage.11 ­Little re­spect was given to the perspectives or well-­being of the first inhabitants, ­human and other species of the place in which they landed, b­ ecause the agenda was domination.12 ­These ­were and continue to be the values privileging western humanist thinking ­today. They also underpin dis-­integrating work practices and work sites. As Audra Mitchell expresses it, working in neoliberal institutions, such as universities, involved practices where “staying afloat meant producing large numbers of quantifiable, ranked outputs and generating constant flows of grant money (or at least applications). . . . ​The grating anxiety of quantification formed a thick callous, separating me from my work. I entered a kind of dissociative state in which the work I was d­ oing passed through me without making much of an impression . . . ​ the culture of constant anxiety, strain, workaholism and wildly inflating expectations is the norm in neo-­liberal universities.”13 Such are the values driving individual dis-­integrations in many locations on Dharug Nura, and around the globe ­today, and they affect families, communities, and ultimately drive extinctions. In contrast, Australian Aboriginal values start with belonging to Country (as physical and metaphysical space) and involve the practice of caring for Country. Belonging as an aspect of identity is not about fulfilling ste­reo­types. According to Larrakia Elder (Northern Territory, Australia), and healer, Bilawarra Lee, “Aboriginality is not the colour of your skin but the essence of your heart. My identity is


Jo A nne Re y

not based on who I am (my gender, race, social class, achievements, and possessions), but where I am in relation to my country, ­family and community.”14 From Dharug (and more broadly speaking Aboriginal) perspectives, we cannot own Country; we belong to Country and are obliged to look a­ fter Her, as our ­Mother, ­because we come from Country, and She sustains us. The pro­cess of caring for Country continues connections to presences, places, and p­ eople. From t­hese interconnections, community and a sense of belonging are grown, while values of collectivism are fostered. Strong communities support families, and strong families raise individual selves that are strong in belonging, strong in caring, and strong in connections to presences, places, and p­ eople. Selves are thus not positioned as fixed, separate units of being, entities, or rationales for existence to acquire possessions and wealth. Individuals are recognized as pro­cesses of co-­belonging, co-­becoming and co-­producing within localized networks of presences, places, and ­people. Sustaining Country and all species within it has always been achieved through communal and collective effort passed down through Law/Lore, using and respecting deep local knowledges and continuing storying. Storying is critical for continuity. As Jonathon Gottschall reminds us, we are the storytelling animal, “story is for a ­human as ­water is for a fish—­all encompassing, and not quite palpable.”15 Storying as shared times/tellings enables transgenerational knowledge(s) transmission that enacts caring for Country and forms a web of living agency that is sustainable, integrative, and transformative (Figure 11.1). In Australia it has been continuously successful for more than 65,000 years. However, in light of ­these value disparities, when Country is a city, ­there is critical need to find new connectivity and opportunities for the purpose of caring for Country-­as-­city. I am arguing that through storying, discourses, and community practices with localized knowledges, we find sufficient commonalities to weave the currently divergent value arenas together.

A Doctoral Proj­ect: Working as Bellbird and Goanna The doctoral proj­ect “Country Tracking Voices” shows how seven Dharug Aboriginal ­women are decentering humanism by demonstrating cultural continuity through custodial practices as they share their stories in site-­related significant places.16 By weaving paid “work” (all are educators in some form) with traditional custodial obligations, f­amily, and community they demonstrate their interconnectedness and co-­belonging to presences, places, and ­people. From their stories, this core sense of belonging, their values and their ways of resilience and well-­being are demonstrated. Methodologically, the proj­ect privileged Australian Aboriginal ways of knowing and ­doing. Participants identified with other-­than-­humans and I, as researcher-­ participant, “Goanna walked” between Western and Indigenous knowledges and practices. “Goanna” is the Australian term for a monitor lizard. The seven “sistas”

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 227

chose not to use their En­glish names, but their “significant identifiers”: Kookaburra (Australasian kingfisher), Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys), Crow (Australian raven), Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), Bushytail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), Sandstone (sedimentary rock), and Bellbird (Bell miner). The term “significant identifiers” was used rather than “totems” ­because the latter term comes from the colonized histories of other First P ­ eoples outside Australia. Transferring terms from one nation to another is a linguistic homogenizing legacy that ignores and devalues diversities. Using significant identifiers, rather than En­glish names, immediately brought a consciousness of other-­than-­human beings into the methodological aspects of undertaking the proj­ect related discussions with supervisors, as well as in the reflexivity surrounding the writing of the thesis. The multiplicity of my roles quickly became obvious, as I was researcher, participant, writer, interviewer, narrator, and, like the ­others, a storyteller. As participant-­storyteller, I identify with the Bellbird (Bell miner). Bellbirds are both victims and colonizers b­ ecause of the system; they are often forced off their habitats and Country to survive, just as convicts and many Aboriginal p­ eoples ­were. As participant-­researcher, I recognized Goanna as I crossed western academic Country and Dharug w ­ omen’s Country. Understanding Goanna’s connectivity, particularly through her tongue, as she tests and tastes her surroundings for survival, resonates with my research engagement with the w ­ omen’s stories.17 Oral organics can thus be seen to act as connectors and transmitters both for Goanna and we w ­ omen yarning, thereby bringing us together. Gathering the stories-­as-­ knowledges, both in the lit­er­a­ture and through shared storytelling times was like weaving between the “brick walls” of academia and natu­ral spaces of sacred sites. As the ­women yarned their transgenerational stories, transcribing and interpreting ­those oral/aural experiences into scripted worlds on paper, I underwent a deep reflectiveness.18 Mind-­mapping the proj­ect pictorially, and then transcribing it, by burning the map into possum skins, produced an even deeper experience, one that, in turn, profoundly inscribed me. I felt as if affectively tattooed by Goanna, protected and watched over by Ancestors (pictured as Dragonflies) and weathered like the sandstone rock sentinels that stand stalwart in the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney and part of the New South Wales ­Great Dividing Range). We know ­these rock formations from the Dharug creation Dreaming story as the Seven ­Sisters who came down from the Pleiades constellation in the heavens. According to Neil Harrison and colleagues, being affected by Country transforms learning experiences.19 Such was the nature of this thesis work: a place and practice of belonging, connecting, caring, and transformational learning. Its mediation was reflexive and recursive, across time, space, and m ­ atter. Karen Barad calls this pro­cess a “timespacemattering”—­a pro­cess of being that she demonstrates by combining recent physics theory with history, philosophy, and theater. The reflexive nature of this pro­cess she describes as having “hauntological” dimensions.20 For me, this reflexivity became “Goanna walking” Country, and the transgenerational journey undertaken resonates as hauntological.


Jo A nne Re y

Goanna Walking as Nura (Country) The mediation between external experiences and internal responses becomes reflexivity when intrinsic transformations in ways of ­doing, being and knowing are enacted as a result of t­hese mediations. “Goanna walking,” as reflexivity, involves transformations through places, presences, and practices involving belonging, caring, and connecting (Figure 11.1). Being aware of our connections and the transformational experiences as a form of in-situ agency dissolves hierarchies and separations by becoming together with/as Nura (Country) in co-­constituted times. Bawaka Country and o­ thers describe ­these co-­constituted times as times/tellings and co-­ becomings as Nura, dissolving separations and not simply engaging on or in Nura.21 As we co-­become through our own agency with/in Nura, we become with/as Nura. Recognizing such agency enables us to mitigate the colonizing, corporatizing, and destructive excesses of unfettered consumerism in the era of the Anthropocene. Understanding our belonging with/in/as Nura, by understanding our spiritual, metaphysical, and physical relationships, provides an alternative narrative beyond that of the colonizers’ value systems. ­These knowledges are underpinned by thousands of years of placemaking, belonging, caring, and connecting with/as transgenerational storytellers. We become conscious of our obligations to continuing connections. Such a continuity transcends 234 years of imposed disconnection. “Goanna walking” as reflexive mediation involving alternative ways of being, knowing, and ­doing demonstrates cultural continuity even when Country is a city. Yarning-up (advocating for, contributing to, and enlivening) Country rather than capitalism, globalization, and extinction (extraction) industries is a ­matter of revival for survival.

Yarning-­Up Country: Three Sites of Worldmaking and Lifeworking Raising our consciousness of our interconnections with other species and Ancestors is strengthened by transgenerational yarning in sites of significance: sacred sites as living-­agency, sites that influence and enliven us. The first yarning-up to be included ­here involved Ringtail and Bellbird sitting together in the cemetery of St. Bartholomew’s Church, at Prospect (western Sydney). Th ­ ere, resting in unmarked graves, are two Ancestors of many Dharug community members, Maria (Bolongaia) and her convict husband, Robert Lock. Maria, as the d­ aughter of a Dharug Boorooberongal leader, Yarramundi, was the first Aboriginal ­woman to be given a White convict as her servant, whom she ­later married. Listening to Ringtail speak of her ancestors, while sitting in that cemetery was a transformational experience for Bellbird, ­because at the bottom of the hill was the land grant of one of her White First Fleet convict ancestors, John Nichols. Two transgenerational yarnings entwined in one place. For Ringtail: “It feels nice, its calm, it’s peaceful, and we talk about Maria wherever we go. But being ­here, it’s almost like she’s included in the conversation. We

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 229

always talk about her being put into the [Parramatta Native] Institute site and her achievements, . . . ​but coming h­ ere feels like she’s been included in the conversation, . . . ​and so it’s like being able to bring f­ amily in rather than talking about them . . . ​and it’s always felt a kind of calmness ­here, and so I think she’s OK ­here.”22 Transgenerational yarning transforms lives and returns us to our groundings, our places of belonging. It is the work of sustainable, reflexive continuity. Communities are created through memorialization. Natasha Azarian-­Ceccato, using the Armenian narrative renditions of genocide as memorial, explains how a sense of community can be enhanced through memorialization: “We see how communities of memory are formed in a space of mediation which links the new generation with the old, the pre­sent with its past, as well as with its i­magined communities.”23 Transformational yarning is enlivening, as it strengthens our sense of belonging, caring, and connecting. Yarning as cultural practice (work) enlivens the culture as it intrinsically transforms it. Working with a deep sense of belonging, caring and connecting transforms work lives into “lifeworkings.”24 The term “lifeworking” is adapted from the usual term “work life,” which positions p­ eople’s lives as separated between “work” and “life,” where life becomes the leftover bits squashed into the small number of remaining hours. As Mitchell explains in her blog, the Creatures Collective understands lifework as “centring life, [rather than extinction] and [is] opposed to the harsh severance of work/life or the disjointing of work-­life. Within this group, we talk about work as ethics, as the embodied fulfilment of responsibilities, as relation-­weaving and worldmaking. Work is lived, and work has life—­one lives, and lives with, one’s work as one lives with other beings.”25 Revisioning work, as Mitchell and the Creatures Collective do, sees work as a living place of ethical “worldmaking.” Worldmaking requires more-­than-­humans where the individual is decentered. Rather than seeking the elusive/illusive “work/ life” balance, worldmaking is lifeworking. “Goanna walking” as reflexivity through yarning, provides one power­ful form of that agency. It is argued Nura (Country), when re-­visioned as reflexive creative agency, such as is found in biodiversity and ecologies, is evidentially both “lifeworkings” and “worldmaking.” Worldmaking reweaves collective practices into the fabric of knowledges and belongings to/ with/as other-­than-­humans: a system continuing for at least sixty-­five millennia. Across generations significant sites become sacred through transgenerational storying, and supply living-­agency for revival and survival. However, in the city, places a­ ren’t always energizing. The sheer mass of humanity produces polluted water-­land-­sea-­air-­ways, rubbish dumped, and places damaged. In this second example, Bushytail’s yarning contrasts the impacts of urbanized human-­dominated Country and that of her special mountain place of belonging. Yesterday my energy was so low, b­ ecause we spent the day in the city, and while ­there are beautiful places, like the Botanic Gardens, I c­ ouldn’t wait to get home, and jump in the shower.26


Jo A nne Re y

In contrast, Bushytail explains her connection to a remaining bush site she and her partner share as f­amily place: “­Going into the rock shelter down t­ here—­the Wombat Dreaming we call it h­ ere, b­ ecause of all the l­ittle families of wombats [Vombatus ursinus] and walking through the waratahs [Telopea speciosissima]—­ and the sacred feeling . . . ​and having fresh ­water down ­there when we need it. We’ve had f­ amily ­here and [to] share this beautiful place with them is even more connected.”27 Bushytail highlights her “worldmaking” through this par­tic­u­lar stretch of bush (forest) and it clearly differs from the energy-­sapping urban cityscapes we must endure when our Nura is a city. Connections to the rock shelter, the world of Wombat Dreaming, the waratahs all sustained by the freshwater of the nearby creek, becomes worldmaking and the h­ umans co-­become within it as they “share this beautiful place.” Sharing time/place/matter fosters lifeworkings, and her yarning and sharing with Bellbird the values and places strengthen our sense of belonging. As the third contrast of site significance, Wagtail’s creation Dreamtime storying of eels highlights the continuity and significance of place, even when that place is within the second largest central business district in the Sydney metropolitan area, Parramatta—­Burramattagal Country, place and p­ eople of the Eel. It is the meeting place of the fresh-­and saltwaters of the Parramatta River. Burramatta [“Parramatta” is a corruption of the Dharug language, where burra is “eel” and “matta” is place]—­place where the eels lie down, place where the saltwater and freshwater come together, and it’s a place where, when the eels are fat and ready to move out to sea, which I think happens in November, with the rains . . . ​ they come out of the estuaries, and they head up the coast all the way up to the Coral Sea [North of Australia]. This goes for the w ­ hole of the eastern [sea]board, . . . ​ all ­those eels, . . . ​so they travel up when they are mature, they go up, and they go up to the Coral Sea, the Gulf [of Carpentaria], and they have their babies, and then they die ­there, and the babies all return home, and they come back to the same [place], wherever their parents came from they come back to that place, to the same creek, [they] know where to go home to. And it’s also the story of transformation, b­ ecause the mature eel changes in shape, and when the eels ­were gathering at Parramatta and it was the place where all the clans and dif­fer­ent tribal groups would meet t­ here, and hold ceremony, they knew that was the time when the eels ­were the fattest, they w ­ ere built up ready to go on a long ocean journey, and so their anuses would seal shut, their eyes would become bigger, they would carry lots of body fat so they could feed themselves to make the journey and off t­ hey’d go, which is just an incredible story. And then a­ fter t­ hey’d had their babies of course ­these babies would come back. ­They’re called glass eels ­because they are actually tiny transparent ­things, thousands and thousands of them heading down the coast, and t­ hey’re all coming at the same time, heading up the creeks, and once they hit the freshwater, they then transform from being the glass eel, transparent glass eel, into the colour of the river, they become the colours of the w ­ ater. So,

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 231

I guess the diet changes, and I guess that the eel story is a transformation, procreation transforming identity, infant form to adult, from salt to fresh, fresh to salt.28

­These knowledges have recently been celebrated during the Secret Life of Eels, Science Week Festival, at Parramatta in 2016, thereby confirming what Dharug and other Australian Aboriginal ­peoples have known from time immemorial. At this historic event Dharug and two other Aboriginal groups came together, on the banks of the Parramatta River, each with their eel-­Dreaming stories. The scientists joined us. It was the first time in nearly 230 years that such a gathering has been held. Such gathering and story-­sharing times would have been common before a colonial invasion. It is a statement, though, that many only believe the storying when science catches up and confirms what our ­peoples have been saying. Such is lifeworking with localized Dharug knowledges, building re­spect, promoting resilience, and fostering well-­being for all sentient beings. The cycles of existence are the essence of the significance of place, connection, and belonging, and through ­those cycles, transformations prevail. In an environment dominated by concrete, steel, traffic, congestion, pollution, suburbia, and colonizing mindsets, we have the dammed/damned Parramatta River, permeated by disconnection and nonbelonging since White invasion and polluted by toxic chemicals since industrialization on this continent began. However, interwoven within we still have collective caring, producing knowledges, community, and continuity.

Yarning-up as Cultural Knowledge Transmission In addition, continuity involves the “­doings”—­cultural transmission of knowledges and skills. Bushytail’s caring was also evident when she passed on her knowledge and skill of possum-­skin work to Bellbird. It involved many hours of meaningful sharing, ultimately “worldmaking,” and co-­becoming in the form of the possum-­ skin wrap-­map. As Bellbird shares: With my guides, Bushytail, L. and M., we proceed to a nearby paddock [field], the designated meeting place for me to start my possum-­skin knowledge journey. The late morning air is cool, a crow calls, other­wise it is still—­a waiting, an expectancy, hushes our voices. Bushytail lays out 20 or so pelts on the grass. L. and M. are preparing the fire for the smoking ceremony to come. ­There is a crackling as the eucalyptus oil from the leaves is fired in the flames. The eucalyptus smoke rises, and I won­der if the possum Ancestors are remembering their connection to Country through the perfume—­some primal connectivity we can only imagine. It is time to re­spect their giving as a ­matter of pastpresentfuturing, a co-­becoming.29

Worldmaking requires the work of learning, listening, and, for passing on possum-­ skin knowledges, burning. Together such times/tellings enable lifeworkings when


Jo A nne Re y

affective learning is undertaken in the places of our belonging. Neil Harrison and Rebecca McLean engage with the question of listening as an act of caring and belonging. They show that when listening involves “getting yourself out of the way,” we are then in a position to practice actively with o­ thers and demonstrate active, rather than passive, care. “Listening requires attentiveness not just to the meaning of words but also to the p­ eople involved, to tone of voice, to emotion and sensation, and to time.”30 Listening, therefore, as part of yarning, is cultural caring and part of lifework. For Bellbird, reflecting on the possum skins as Ancestors, the mortality of one form of relatives belonging to Country, sharing their continuity in the form of pelts for passing on Dharug knowledges required deep, affective engagement, which in turn enabled a sense of lifeworking. While each of the three days was exhausting (listening, yarning, ­doing, learning, reflecting are hard “Goanna walking” work) being inscribed affectively in the pro­cess of the burning, brought an agency and sense of deep connectivity. A reward far more sustainable and satisfying than working for the sole purpose of materialism. This kind of engagement has been referred to as “spirit work.” It involves working for personal meaning, fulfillment, transcendence, and well-­being underpinned by the sense that “one’s work makes a contribution, a sense of connection to ­others and common purpose, an awareness of a connection to something larger than self.”31 Further, reflecting beyond the possum-­skin work to the proj­ect and thesis writing, and to the doctoral candidacy as a ­whole, the above conditions ­were certainly met. Through this work Bellbird was further entwined and her sense of belonging reinforced by the memories of ­those shared times that influenced the outcomes of the thesis. This is worldmaking. The written sharing of the thesis through this chapter gives o­ thers some knowledges of our Nura, while entwining them, into the Dharug Nura web. As Figure 11.1 illustrates, Dharug Nura involves entwining not separating. This is Nura-­connecting, for revival and survival and Nura thus involves spirit working. It enables yarning-up for resilience and well-­being.

Yarning-­Up Nura for Revival and Survival: Some Spirit Working Yarning-up Country for revival and survival, resilience and well-­being, entwines human-­other-­than h­ uman par­ameters. Without close connections to places, we cannot care for other-­than-­humans who live ­there. Without such places, as Bushytail has shown, our energy (life force) is drained, our resilience and well-­being diminished. Without yarning-up our close connections we cannot pass on knowledges that help ­others care. Without caring we cannot belong. Without a sense of belonging, our caring is diminished. The agency is driven by sharing the storying: the telling and the listening. It is spirit working. Kookaburra knew she was Aboriginal from childhood but only found her mob (band/clan/group) as an adult. In Kookaburra’s storying, knowing who you are

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 233

and where you belong, and how you fit in, is critical to well-­being, and informs her puppetry practice, across many Aboriginal communities with her Dharug puppet troupe: Yarramundi Kids. Her storying began as her recounting of a dream she had over thirty years ago. Before sleeping, she had asked Ancestors for help with a serious workplace prob­lem created by a colleague. What she understood from the resulting dream proved foundational and instrumental in her moving into puppetry as a lifelong c­ areer: “And whenever I feel uncertain or what­ever, I always come back to this grounding: I belong to this place, I am of this place, and I also believe very strongly, and I’ve used this when being challenged about Dharug and stuff: I am on the Country of my Ancestors and I have obligation to my Ancestors, and it always goes back to that dream, the Ancestors’ spirits ­were with me, they showed me, they affirmed me and strengthened me, so that’s, you know, that’s out of that dream.”32 Kookaburra’s creation of the puppets (as worldmaking and caring for Country) is embedded in her belonging to Dharug community, and her desire to bring Dharug, as a White-­skinned Aboriginal community, to the fore. She explains that “Dharug kids in par­tic­u­lar, strug­gle with that sense of identity and a sense of belonging and how ­people see them and how they see themselves . . . ​and it’s quite in­ter­est­ing when I go around the country that Max [the puppet], in par­tic­ul­ar, is a ­really popu­lar character, but he has red hair and blue eyes—­and he’s a strong ­little character but no one bats an eyelid, like he’s a Dharug mob.”33 When we belong to/with place or persons, or other-­than-­humans, we have affective relationships that inform our identities. Harrison and McLean demonstrate that belonging is more than a cognitive conduit; it is also an emotive channel, reinforced through connection and affecting our identities.34 Kathleen Mee and Sarah Wright note that “belonging” is about “being” and “longing” for connection and is emotional.35 When we have a sense of belonging we are able to identify as insiders, not isolated or separated from ­others. Sharing becomes pos­si­ble, and connections strengthened. Yarning therefore is the work of creating connections, enables belonging and produces worldmaking: it is storywork and spirit work.36 It is essential to creating conditions that enable workers to feel they are contributing, living meaningful lives. As “Country Tracking Voices” demonstrates, Dharug ­women are working for collective success, for community, and cultural continuity through their Indigenous lifeworkings.

Dharug Nura Working for Collectivity, Community, and Continuity Collectively belonging, connecting, and caring creates community. Strong communities support families, and strong families create selves that are strong in belonging, caring, and connecting. This is the web of continuity that is Dharug Nura (Figure 11.1). Physical sustenance grounds agency (reflexivity and action) with purpose. For millions of ­humans in ­today’s Dharug Nura, grounding agency with purpose


Jo A nne Re y

commonly involves paid work centered on productivity, promotion and the pretense of job protection. By contrast, choosing to work culturally, within the Dharug Nura web, requires adjusting values away from seeking work only for monetary wealth in a logic of extraction. Producing culturally centered works, such as art, ­music, kangaroo and possum cloaks, and dances, are some examples of ways in which the ­women are weaving cultural caring into paid work. When productions are created personally, and with their story attached, they can entwine non-­Indigenous workplaces into the web of caring, connecting, and belonging, and thus, a “work life” can become transformed into lifeworkings. At the same time, the recipient feels recognized by being included in the story: a healing pro­cess, which both contests continuing colonization and strengthens resilience in the pro­cess. One example was Crow’s storying concerning her singing as lifeworking and her spirituality: “Well that’s why I sing. I ­didn’t sing ­because I wanted to be a rock star, or such. I c­ an’t be both­ered with the make-up or the costumes . . . ​I sing b­ ecause it’s a way . . . ​I always used to do massaging, and my hands ­can’t heal enough, you know, so if you can sing, and sing well, then you can heal many. . . . ​See old way singing. . . . ​I believe it’s a way to actually, to help create.”37 Working in education as all the ­women do, ­either formally or informally, is also providing income streams. For Sandstone, working as a local heritage officer provides a way to teach ­children and adults about Dharug colonial history, significant places, and the importance of protecting the knowledges that remain. Well, I was so overwhelmed, as you are when you find out so many parts to the history and what happened to our mob [­people] out in Western Sydney. . . . ​It’s so impor­tant to talk about t­hings like genocide, torture, the oral stories from town and bodies being [strung up]. The stories that come from Country and Richmond Road and round the Native Institution story, and what happened to the families, ­because they w ­ ere all of the surviving families, and t­here’s t­hese names and they w ­ ere the survivors of the holocaust r­ eally, and our brave Pemulwuy, and he fought so hard, u­ ntil he was killed and had his head chopped off, and the stories of the w ­ omen and the c­ hildren—­it’s heartbreaking. So, I realised that not many p­ eople know them, about Australia’s [history] and certainly the history of this place, Sydney. . . . ​It ­wasn’t just my story, it was every­one’s story, so that’s what I did.38

Sandstone’s storywork demonstrates the drive to engage with the broader population about the silenced Indigenous histories of Sydney not told within schools. Such histories enliven lost Ancestors, places, and presences and for Sandstone underpins resilience, sustainability, and well-­being through her dance and drama work. It requires re­spect and the role of education is critical in fostering, reviving, and re-­cognizing re­spect for sustainable f­ utures.

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 235

Cosmopolitics: Yarning-­Up Collective Re­spect and Reciprocity Re­spect continues to be the ground seat of well-­being. Re­spect for Elders, their knowledges, connections, and caring, past, pre­sent, and forthcoming ensures transgenerational continuity. Re­spect as reciprocity and caring for Nura ensures survival and well-­being through sustainable balance. It is not the signification of money, working for profit, globalization, or consumerism that ­will bring sustainable f­utures. Instead, it is shown that the signification of localized storying, sharing time/s/tellings as yarning, and reciprocal caring practices provides the agency for the Dharug Nura web to enliven and be enlivened. Seeing State responsibility and governance as only an activity of providing employment for the material sustenance of individuals is a massive denigration of agency, spirit, and ­human endeavor. Positioning work thus is demoralizing and demands we seek happiness outside of the workplace rather than through it. Such a system dis-­integrates and is degenerative rather than regenerative. Arguing that extinction industries are “good” b­ ecause they bring profits and employ ­people is ignoring the unsustainability of ­those pro­cesses. Given that our cities are climate changed and climate challenged, questions are being raised on how to build cities that are good for humanity and ecologies when ­human and other-­than-­human lives are becoming more insecure and well-­being decreases. Impor­tant localized collective agency through diverse urban community proj­ects are blossoming. Following Isabelle Stengers’s conceptualization of cosmopolitics as a strategic response that removes politics from a human-­centric activity to a multispecies practice, Donna Houston and her colleagues call for climate change responses to involve planning discourses that seek urban ­futures through sustainability and ecosystem justice.39 Reframing discourse into equity and justice narratives calls attention to meaningful, respectful multispecies action that dignifies the imperative. Beyond existing insular approaches of individuals caring for backyards and volunteer bush regeneration, collective agency at the “roots” level of engagement in diverse Australian cities is enlivening a critical frontier.40 In ­these collective workplaces re-­visioning f­ utures as ­people develop greater interconnections rather than separations brings h­ umans and other-­than-­humans together, working meaningful caring into daily lives. However, what is often missing in the discourse is the place of t­ hese practices in the context of Nura and the continuing sustainability practices that cross more than 65,000 years. Respecting and acknowledging this continuity and connecting current efforts with Ancestral practices deepens the generative pro­cesses that reweave places, presences, and ­people. Transforming workplaces into sites of resilience and well-­being underpinned by belonging, caring, and interconnection with their ecosystems creates generative cultures that can enhance f­ utures, h­ uman and other-­than-­human. I suggest it is a way for us to co-­become and be more-­than-­ human. However, systemic change is required.


Jo A nne Re y

Implications arise around the crucial role of mass education to re-­vision itself away from transmitting patriarchal, hierarchical, human-­centric, colonizing values. Re-­visioning educational curriculums ­toward values for sustainable worldmaking and lifeworking practices requires acknowl­edgment of the need for change. Changing the purpose of how and why we spend our time as we do, requires re­spect and reciprocity enacted collectively to strengthen agency and outcomes. Yarning with Kookaburra, Crow, Wagtail, the Possums, and Sandstone changes perspectives. Together our yarning makes lifework, makes spirit work, and is worldmaking: co-­becoming Nura. Digerigur. Thank you.

Notes “Goanna” is the Australian term for a monitor lizard. 1. ​Jo Rey, “Country Tracking Voices: Dharug W ­ omen’s Perspectives on Presences, Places and Practices” (PhD diss., Macquarie University, 2018). 2. ​Audra Mitchell, “Extinction Is the End—­Or Is It?” Worldly (blog), June 30, 2016, https://­ worldlyir​.­wordpress​.­com​/­2016​/­06​/­30​/­extinction​-­is​-­the​-­end​-­or​-­is​-­it​/­; Audra Mitchell, “Lifework Part 1,” Worldly (blog), September  14, 2016, https://­worldlyir​.­wordpress​.­com​/­2016​/­09​/­; and Audra Mitchell, “Lifework Part 2,” Worldly (blog), April 9, 2017, https://­worldlyir​.w ­ ordpress​ .­com​/­2017​/­04​/­09​/­lifework​-­part​-­ii​/­. 3. ​Janine Benyus, “Along Came a Spider,” Sierra 86, no. 4 (2001). 4. ​Val Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (London: Routledge, 1993). 5. ​Marco Antonsich, “Book Review: bell hooks, Belonging: A Culture of Place,” ­Human Geography 34, no. 5 (2010): 694. 6. ​Dawn Bessarab and B. Ng’Andu, “Yarning About Yarning as a Legitimate Method in Indigenous Research,” International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies 3, no. 1 (2010): 37–50. 7. ​Simone Bignall, Steve Hemming, and Daryle Rigney, “Three Ecosophies for the Anthropocene: Environmental Governance, Continental Posthumanism and Indigenous Expressivism,” Deleuze Studies 10, no. 4 (2016): 455–478. 8. ​On “spirit work,” see Val Kinjerski and Berna J. Skrypnek, “Four Paths to Spirit at Work: Journeys of Personal Meaning, Fulfillment, Well-­Being, and Transcendence through Work,” ­Career Development Quarterly 56, no. 4 (2008): 319–329. On “Indigenous story work, see Jo-­Ann Archibald, Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2008); and Kinjerski and Skrypnek, “Four Paths to Spirit.” On “lifeworkings,” see Mitchell, “Extinction Is the End—­Or Is It?”; Mitchell, “Lifework Part 1”; and Mitchell, “Lifework Part 2.” 9. ​Donna Houston et al., “Climate Cosmopolitics and the Possibilities for Urban Planning,” Nature + Culture 11, no. 3 (2016): 259–277. 10. ​Plumwood, Feminism. 11. ​Henry Reynolds, Frontier (North Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1987); and Grace Karskens, The Colony: A History of Early Sydney (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2010). 12. ​Reynolds, Frontier. 13. ​Mitchell, “Extinction Is the End—­Or Is It?” 14. ​Bilawara Lee, Healing from the Dilly Bag (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2013), 12. 15. ​Jonathon Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us ­Human (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), xiv. 16. ​Rey, “Country Tracking Voices.”

Weaving “Lifeworkings” 237

17. ​Allan Greer, “Australian Goannas—­Evolution and Radiation,” Australian Museum, accessed

September 13, 2021, https://­australianmuseum​.­net​.­au​/­australian​-g­ oannas​-­evolution​-­and​-­radiation. 18. ​Nerida Blair, Privileging Australian Indigenous Knowledge: Sweet Potatoes, Spiders, Waterlilys and Brick Walls (Champaign, IL: Common Ground, 2015). 19. ​Neil Harrison et al., “Sensational Pedagogies: Learning to Be Affected by Country,” Curriculum Inquiry 47, no. 5 (2017): 504–519. 20. ​Karen Barad, “Quantum Entanglements and Hauntological Relations of Inheritance: Dis/ Continuities, Spacetime Enfoldings, and Justice-­to-­Come,” Derrida T ­ oday 3, no. 2 (2010): 240–268. 21. ​Bawaka Country et  al., “Co-­Becoming Bawaka: ­Towards a Relational Understanding of Place/Space,” Pro­gress in H ­ uman Geography (2015): 455–475. https://­doi​.­org/ 10.1177/​03091325​ 15589437. 22. ​Rey, “Country Tracking Voices,” 197. 23. ​Natasha Azarian-­Ceccato, “Reverberations of the Armenian Genocide: Narrative’s Intergenerational Transmission and the Task of Not Forgetting,” Narrative Inquiry 20, no. 1 (2010): 106. 24. ​Mitchell, “Lifework Part 1.” 25. ​Mitchell, “Extinction Is the End—­Or Is It?” 24. 26. ​Rey, “Country Tracking Voices,” 238. 27. ​Rey, 238. 28. ​Rey, 157–158. 29. ​Rey, 300–301. 30. ​Neil Harrison and Rebecca McLean, “Getting Yourself out of the Way: Aboriginal ­People Listening and Belonging in the City,” Geo­graph­i­cal Research 55, no. 4 (2017): 365. 31. ​Kinjerski and Skrypnek, “Four Paths to Spirit,” 319. 32. ​Rey, “Country Tracking Voices,” 108. 33. ​Rey, 120. 34. ​Harrison and McLean, “Getting Yourself out of the Way.” 35. ​Kathleen Mee and Sarah Wright, “Geographies of Belonging: Why Belonging? Why Geography?” Environment and Planning A 41, no. 4 (2009): 772–779. 36. ​Archibald, Indigenous Storywork; and Kinjerski and Skrypnek, “Four Paths to Spirit.” 37. ​Rey, “Country Tracking Voices,” 180–181. 38. ​Rey, 273. 39. ​Isabelle Stengers, Cosmopolitics, trans. Robert Bononno (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010); and Houston et al., “Climate Cosmopolitics.” 40. ​Houston et al., “Climate Cosmopolitics.”



his essay offers a series of “pedagogical scenes,” which together question what have become, since the 1970s, norms in the humanities, particularly regarding growth fueled by democ­ratization. Many ­will think this outrageous or impossible, perhaps rightly so, but in light of intensifying ecological catastrophes, I suggest we must begin to do so, and the sooner the better.

Pedagogical Scene One: An Elementary School As storms battered California in February 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported that most of the ­water falling on the state’s urban areas ended up in the Pacific Ocean. Such waste is not news and the state’s cities have been working to increase their abilities to catch rainfall: “ ‘ We still lose a tremendous amount of ­water to fast runoff that we know can be captured. W ­ e’re not ­doing all the t­hings we need to be ­doing,’ said Peter Gleick, president emeritus of the Pacific Institute. ‘We get our rain in big storms. The [river] flows get huge. We have to remove some of that ­water to prevent flooding, but we can also capture more of it.’ ”1 Stories like this brought to mind a memory of childhood, of my working-­class ­father taking a square-­edged 239


Sh a ron O’Da ir

shovel to the gutter in front of our small home in Garden Grove, California, in order to scoop up runoff for the edge of our lawn, usually from the wasteful sprinklers of neighbors up the street, but sometimes at the tail end of a storm. He grew vegetables some years and always tended to his two avocado trees in the backyard. In Decembers, we w ­ ere awash in guacamole and throughout winter he sent his reluctant, young and brainy ­daughter to try to sell as many of the fruits as she could for a nickel apiece, or maybe a quarter.2 Like so many working-­class p­ eople ­today, my ­father continued to work when, in the 1970s, he retired from the physical ­labor of construction, driving a van for a preschool, and he continued to save money the way poor p­ eople have done and w ­ ill continue to do—­recycling aluminum, keeping the wall heaters turned low, buying dented cans of vegetables and fruits from the clearance bins, or gleaning from the nearby bean and strawberry fields, now sites of hospitals or shopping malls. All of which practices are sure to make a young girl embarrassed, as is the case in Sonya Larson’s short story, “At the Bottom of New Lake.” Larson’s heroine and narrator, Chuntao, experiences “something amazing. . . . ​The kids w ­ ere smiling; I felt I could fly. Never before had I felt proud to be poor.”3 What is amazing is that Chuntao’s poverty turns the t­ ables on her “snarly teacher from Biology,” Mrs. Fletcher, who chastises Chuntao’s swimming and diving in New Lake, where Chuntao explored the underwater wrecks of demolished, flooded mansions. The lake was toxic, Mrs. Fletcher said, and “messing around in it was immoral and disrespectful to the community,” which had lost so much twenty years e­ arlier (loc. 40, 10). Perhaps so, Chuntao thinks, for the White ­people like Mrs. Fletcher; they never ventured ­toward it, staying “away from the lake, from the poor parts and the Chinese parts, as if scared” (loc. 19). But for Chuntao, New Lake ­wasn’t scary: “I ­didn’t exactly appreciate someone saying my neighborhood was shit. . . . ​The lake was my home. And all t­ hese goods: they w ­ ere ­there for the taking” (loc. 159, 19). So she did: “Rich ­people stuff,” her “trea­sures leftover from the flood” (loc. 19, 16). Mrs. Fletcher had spied Chuntao and her classmate, Sandra, diving in the lake and the next day changed her curriculum from mitochondria to climate change, hoping to get her students to understand its threat and to be “a force for climate change re­sis­tance” (loc. 106). Mortified, since she felt Mrs. Fletcher was aiming all of this at her, a punishment for swimming and diving and scrounging in the lake, Chuntao resisted her, her call for the students to resist climate change, which to Chuntao meant something good: “Before the Flood, ­people like us ­couldn’t walk right up to the ocean. You had to bike ­there, or take the bus, cutting through the mansion yards and ducking u­ nder their win­dows. My only wish was to live along the ocean someday too. But when they left, it was glorious—­all the working folks had the entire Cape to themselves. You could run to the ­water freely—no ducking ­under anyone’s win­dows just to see beauty” (loc. 148). And Chuntao gets her wish, since “the ocean only kept rising”; she is able to imagine this “was my New Lake, my ­water inlet, my l­ittle path from the h­ ouse that went directly to the w ­ ater . . . ​a private path to heaven” (loc. 159).

Coda 241

My ­father used to joke, too, about finding ourselves with oceanfront property in Southern California—­after “the big one” hit, the devastating earthquake on the San Andreas Fault that was sure to come.4 Perhaps the poor always dream the rich ­will drown or fall off the continental shelf, freeing them from their lives of drudgery and pain, their humiliation and shame, allowing them a path to heaven and beauty. But as I know and as Larson knows, too, the poor are not the primary cause of the climate crisis and they may be models for change: I knew about “reduce, reuse, recycle” long before it became a man­tra in schools, cities, and states, long before it became a song for ­children to sing. My ­father made sets of blocks from unusable wood at his construction sites for me and for my ­mother’s upper-­middle-­class grandchildren, who liked them better than they liked the plastic sets their parents bought for them in stores.5 Chuntao’s moment of pride in being poor arrives when Mrs. Fletcher makes her stand in front of the class to quiz her about her carbon footprint. Angry but contained—­“fists balled”—­Chuntao obeys. Preparing to write a number on the board, Mrs. Fletcher says, “Chuntao, I want you to guess . . . ​the amount of gas you burned when you w ­ ere driven to school t­ oday.” The girl’s face turns red, feels hot, but she murmurs, “I d­ idn’t,” by which she means she d­ idn’t get driven to school. A class know-­ it-­all helpfully adds, “She ­doesn’t have a car,” mortifying the girl even more, but her friend, Sandra, adds, “ ‘Chuntao ­doesn’t burn fuels. She rides a bike. She walks.’ ” Chuntao thinks “Mrs. Fletcher looked puzzled, as if ­she’d never encountered this situation before.” But, “drawing a zero on the board,” she proceeds to ask the girl how “many lights you leave on in your ­house.” Only one, she replies, “one lamp lights the w ­ hole kitchen, living room, and dining room, b­ ecause in my h­ ouse t­ hey’re all the same room.” Mrs. Fletcher cannot perceive how badly this is ­going for her, so she quizzes Chuntao further, about how much meat she eats, “the ‘fast fashion’ [she] support[s],” and the vacations she takes. Chuntao explains that “we are vegetarians—­ most of us from Guangdong are”; that her m ­ other sews “all my clothes, mostly from the fabric of old clothes”; that she and her mom do not vacation but “on her rare days off, my m ­ other flaps my old baby blanket onto the bank of New Lake, lays herself down, and enjoys the lapping of the w ­ ater, same as me.” Still frustrated, and in reply to Mrs. Fletcher’s clueless question about why she ­doesn’t “believe in carbon footprints,” Chuntao scores her last and largest point on this issue: “I do believe in carbon footprints. I just think that yours is way bigger than mine” (loc. 220–238). Presumably, Mrs. Fletcher’s point was to encourage her charges to recognize and even contemplate their own contributions to climate change. Inadvertently, in quizzing and seeming to punish Chuntao, she demonstrated for her middle-­and upper-­middle-­class students the kinds of changes they might have to make to be in fact “a force for climate change re­sis­tance” (loc. 106)—to live like the poor, like the immigrant girl, without a f­ ather and with only a m ­ other, without a car, a large home, fast fashion, or vacations. Perhaps this was author Sonya Larson’s point, too, in writing “At the Bottom of New Lake.” What changes must you make to match the carbon footprint of Chuntao and her ­mother?


Sh a ron O’Da ir

This question is not idle, not in the wake of 2018’s dire warnings—or the even more dire warnings of 2022—­from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or Demo­crats’ embrace in the United States of a Green New Deal, a notion first coined by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2007. But it is one question that even scientists or the proponents of a “Green New Deal” are reluctant to ask, much less answer. One reason may be that, according to the Mas­ sa­chu­setts Institute of Technology, even Chuntao’s carbon footprint is much larger than the global per capita footprint, which is about four tons per year: “The somewhat disquieting bottom line is that in the United States, even p­ eople with the lowest energy usage account for, on average, more than double the global per-­capita carbon emission.” The reason is that “­people whose lifestyles ­don’t appear extravagant—­the homeless, monks, [or] ­children” receive an “array of government ser­vices that are available to every­one in the United States . . . ​including police, roads, libraries, the court system and the military.” So, regardless of an American’s “energy choices,” that person’s carbon footprint cannot dip below 8.5 tons.6 For me, this “somewhat disquieting bottom line” undercuts efforts like The Guardian’s asking readers, “Tell us what you are ­doing to reduce your green­house gas emissions.”7 And it gives new meaning to the conclusion of 2006’s An Incon­ve­nient Truth, when Al Gore asks audiences, “Are you ready to change the way you live?” I saw the film ­after it had been out for a while; the audience was small but, I thought, generally attentive and concerned. But to my mind, none of us was ready to change the way we lived, not significantly enough, not to cut our carbon footprints by 80 ­percent.8 Al Gore knew this, I think, which is perhaps why An Incon­ve­nient Truth suggests that we can change the ways we live without sacrifice, or, as I put it in 2008, “con­ve­niently, without slowing us down, or our economy: by recycling; by changing our incandescents to fluo­rescents; by walking or riding bikes, sometimes; by paying money for carbon offsets or electricity produced sustainably; and by voting for politicians committed to taking necessary action on the issue.”9 As I also pointed out in that essay, even one return flight between New York and London, a commonplace excursion for a Shakespearean like me, costs out at 3.5 tons of CO2 emissions if radiative forcing is included and, therefore, “by itself produce[s] a half-­ton more emissions that suggests is a sustainable amount of yearly emissions for any given person on the planet; which is to say that if a sustainable amount of emissions ­were mandated by law, an overseas trip would leave a traveler with no ability to heat or cool her home, or commute to work in an automobile.”10

Pedagogical Scene Two: The Academic Conference In light of this, I was heartened (fi­nally!) and saddened (almost a de­cade a­ fter that 2008 essay!) to see listed on the program of the 2017 meeting of the Association for the Study of Lit­er­a­ture and the Environment (ASLE), a panel called, “Biking to ASLE: Travel Experience and Conference Form.” Or­ga­nized by two gradu­ate students, David Rodriguez and J. Caity Swanson, this panel included papers by

Coda 243

p­ eople who bicycled from places far from the conference location at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. In d­ oing so, they addressed the elephant in the ASLE room or any room—­the Modern Language Association (MLA), the Shakespeare Association of Amer­ic­ a (SAA)—­where environmental humanists gather: the environmental humanities are growth industries, and scholars, more and more ­every day, are flying and flying and driving and driving, hither and yon, building large carbon footprints, to promote their readings of the environment in lit­er­a­ ture, film, fine art, popu­lar art, and, I suppose, the texts of life itself. I have been troubled by the elephant in the room since I began thinking about a Green Shakespeare and the environmental humanities in the late 1990s, and in several essays I have written since then, including the one cited above, as well as another one also published in 2008,11 I have argued, among other t­ hings, that Green Shakespeareans need to slow down, stop flying so much, even stop writing so much, and think about research and teaching as craft. A locally practiced craft. Let’s have a Slow Shakespeare, a slow profession. In 2009, at the ASLE conference in Victoria, British Columbia, I was shocked to see so many early modernists crammed into a ­couple of sessions. (ASLE has tended not to draw scholars who work in early modern, medieval, or classical lit­er­ a­ture or history.) But worse, I was shocked to see so many young early modernists. Clearly few had heeded my call, if I may joke just a bit. But some admitted that their presence in Victoria was motivated not so much by concern for the earth; they ­were concerned about their professional lives, about jobs in the wake of the ­Great Recession of 2008. The environmental humanities, they saw, was growing, a place to establish a rec­ord of publication and maybe, just maybe, obtain a tenure-­ track job. Since then, Green Shakespeare, or the green environmental humanities, has proliferated, has grown even more, into a spectrum of colors, as Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Prismatic Ecol­ogy: Ecotheory beyond Green attests: ­here we have a rainbow ecol­ogy: blue, pink, violet-­black, brown, orange.12 An environmental humanities forum is now established at the Modern Language Association of Amer­i­ca—­I wrote the proposal and was one of the founding members of the Executive Committee. We have sponsored a happy hour at the annual meeting of the MLA each year since the founding, and a lot of mostly young p­ eople attend. Gradu­ate students in early modern studies still ooze ­toward ecocriticism or the digital humanities, both of which are growth industries. But should they? Should the environmental humanities be a growth industry? My answer is “no.” Environmental humanists should join progressive economists and phi­los­o­phers in decrying growth, in promoting a no-­growth economics, or in fact, a degrowth economics, a degrowth society, as an influential group of Eu­ro­pean intellectuals put it in a number of works dating from the 1970s and increasing in number ­today.13 We need, say the degrowthers, to acknowledge limits to economic activity, all economic activity, including intellectual work. Too, as I argued in “Growing Pains,” an essay on the meanings of “growth” in Shakespeare, degrowth economists and phi­los­op­ hers do not “demand only that we make do


Sh a ron O’Da ir

with less—­less throughput, less energy, less waste, less stuff. ­Because even with less, the world ­will enjoy excess; the question for all of us is what to do with surplus, with excess, with dépense.”14 How do we or­ga­nize a life of limits, a profession of limits, a life and profession that still affords plenty? This question, I suggest, might make Gore’s unpleasant question—­“Are you ready to change the way you live?—­ more palatable, more in­ter­est­ing, more energizing. That question, I suggest, is now ever more impor­tant. The span of my education and c­ areer—­gradu­ate school in the late 1970s and a professorship in the late 1980s u­ ntil now, as emerita—­coincides with the expansion of higher education and of neoliberalism in the acad­emy. I have watched it, decried it, and benefited from it. Lost from it, too. All humanists have. But the novel coronavirus brought that growth and neoliberalism to a screeching halt across institutions and socie­ties. Slowly, daily, politicians, medical professionals, and the public confront their ignorance; slowly, daily, we recognize that, absent a vaccine, or, as it turns out, even with one, life w ­ ill be or­ga­nized differently. Colleges and universities w ­ ill be or­ga­nized differently. In a way, the novel coronavirus makes crucially impor­tant my call to consider what makes l­abor (and life) meaningful in the university. We ­were online for a long time: what comes next?

Pedagogical Scene Three: Gradu­ate Education For some, acknowledging limits and trying to or­ga­nize a new life of limits might well mean withdrawing from civilization, as Paul Kingsnorth has famously done and chronicled in his volume from 2017, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays. As a young man, Kingsnorth was an environmental activist, an impor­tant one, convinced activism would save the world, but by 2008 and the global economic crisis, he realized that the sorts of re­sis­tance he had practiced on a “­grand, global scale” w ­ ere pointless: “­Today’s environmentalists are more likely to be found at corporate conferences hymning the virtues of ‘sustainability’ and ‘ethical consumption’ than ­doing anything as naïve as questioning the intrinsic value of civilization. Capitalism has absorbed the greens, as it absorbs so many challenges to its ascendancy. A radical challenge to the h­ uman machine has been transformed into yet another opportunity for shopping.”15 For Kingsnorth the only option became retreat, stopping, indeed uncivilizing.16 Uncivilizing implies a retreat from cosmopolitanism, from the global, from “city-­dwelling.”17 For many environmental humanists, such as, say, Ursula Heise—­whose influential Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global, was published in 2008, just the year Kingsnorth began the soul-­searching that led to his withdrawal from activism and cosmopolitanism—­Kingsnorth’s embrace of a sense of place, of local identity, and of oft-­derided nature writing, is anathema; it is antediluvian or conservative or just as pointless as the works of optimists who think technology w ­ ill save us. For ­others, perhaps most of us, uncivilizing simply is not an option; we are unable to embrace a Kingsnorthian retreat, living off the grid if you ­will, even if we remain “wary of the siren cries of metro-

Coda 245

vincial fashion and civilized excitement.”18 In this moment of fear, however, of straining against collapse, one size does not fit all. Dif­fer­ent ways to acknowledge bound­aries must be in the offing. For some, for me, acknowledging bound­aries might well mean reestablishing bound­aries, since the norm in the acad­emy since the 1970s has been to break them down, bring the margin to the center or blur the lines between departments or disciplines. In literary study, this meant adding to the canon, and not just ignored figures of literary history—­the writings of w ­ omen, the enslaved, or workers—­but figures of popu­lar ­music, dance, film, comic books, fan fiction, what you w ­ ill. Adding meant growing. And growing more. More topics of study and more students to study them, in a word, a democ­ratization of the discipline and of our institutions. In the name of democ­ratization, the acad­emy continues to bust bound­aries, having opened conferences like ASLE and the MLA and the regional MLAs to gradu­ate students and even to undergraduates. In contrast, I presented at my first conference—­ the annual meeting of the MLA—in 1987, ­after I took up my appointment as a tenure-­track assistant professor at the University of Alabama, a­ fter my first journal publication in 1986, and just before I filed my dissertation: 1987, just over thirty-­five years ago! Across the United States and around the world, entire conferences are run by and for gradu­ate students. At many colleges and universities, using undergraduates in research is promoted hard for reasons mostly unstated. And students, both gradu­ ate and undergraduate, want to attend conferences and to travel to them.19 At ALSE, in Detroit, in the Q&A for our session, an undergraduate objected strongly to my suggestion that she should not be in attendance. In reply, I mentioned, as above, that conferencing was not always thus, and even tenured professors, much less gradu­ate students, did not travel the world on a “conference cir­cuit.” I mentioned too that some professional organ­izations, like the SAA, have come to question its growth. The SAA, whose seminar format makes it easy for anyone to “pre­sent,” instituted a ban on gradu­ate students who have not passed comprehensive exams and thus have not begun writing a dissertation. To attend and participate, gradu­ate students must submit a letter from their dissertation directors attesting to their status. This, I suggested, was an attempt not only to limit the size of the conference but also to ensure a certain level of intellectual sophistication. As John Guillory argued in 1996, the drive or requirement to professionalize in gradu­ate school, for gradu­ate students to “do every­thing that their teachers do—­teach, deliver conference papers, publish,” undermines students’ opportunities to develop “long-­term intellectual proj­ects and thus propagates intellectual shallowness.” The latter arguably undercuts the purpose of gradu­ate education, or changes it, as Guillory goes on to muse: “What the market demands, incredibly, is a gradu­ate student who is already in some sense a successful professional before that student can be considered for a position as a professor. In such a context, ‘professional desire’ is contorted into the form of prematurity, of desiring something now—­ professional success—­that can only be had l­ater. This prematurity is phantasmic: it


Sh a ron O’Da ir

telescopes professional ­careers into the time period of gradu­ate school and conflates gradu­ate education with self-­marketing, as though getting a job w ­ ere somehow the culmination of a successful c­ areer.”20 And with re­spect to the concerns of this essay and volume, I would be remiss not to observe that such a phantasmic occurs on the back of travel, of burning, say, a half ton of CO2 for ­every student participant at e­ very conference. Translating gradu­ate students’ be­hav­iors into the form of professional work now means damaging the substance of the profession itself and damaging the planetary health on which both the profession and the professional depend. In the terms of this essay collection, a profession traditionally oriented by craft and expertise is increasingly pointed instead ­toward a logic of extraction, both in terms of producing “deliverables” like conference papers and in terms of relying on consumption structures to do so.

Pedagogical Scene Four: The Pedagogy of Pizza (a) But as Dipesh Chakrabarty provocatively argues, democ­ratization of all institutions, of all nations, has depended on growth, growth enabled by the burning of fossil fuels.21 Not just industrial, postindustrial, or neoliberal capitalism, but democ­ratization itself, freedom itself, depends on the burning of fossil fuels. And so, if one is an environmental humanist, and if one cannot retreat or uncivilize like Kingsnorth, it may be worthwhile to won­der, what can one do to degrow the acad­ emy? Reducing the size and number of conferences is one idea, a good one in my view, but my aim is broader. Elsewhere I have invoked the work of Peter Sloterdijk that imagines a turn or return to the practicing life, one that allows the emergence of an “ethical h­ uman being” who is “Homo repetitivus, Homo artista, the h­ uman in training.”22 Such a turn or return seems especially germane to the hypercompetitive, hyperprofessional academic and educational milieu I have been describing. I propose, therefore, that we consider the pedagogical lessons of pizza. Like most foods ­today, pizza can be cheesy or artisanal, mass-­produced or handcrafted, junk food or health food. Some, like Thomas Pynchon’s Zoyd in Vineland, disdain the latter, see it primarily as marketing and profit making: His buddy Prairie, Zoyd tells us, worked at the Bodhi Dhar­ma Pizza T ­ emple, which a ­little smugly offered the most ­wholesome, not to mention the slowest, fast food in the region, a classic example of the California pizza concept at its most misguided. Zoyd was both a certified pizzamaniac and a cheapskate, but not once had he ever hustled Prairie for one nepotistic slice of the Bodhi Dhar­ma product. Its sauce was all but crunchy with fistfuls of herbs only marginally Italian and more appropriate in a cough remedy, the rennetless cheese reminded customers variously of bottled hollandaise or joint compound, and the options w ­ ere all vegetables rigorously organic, whose high w ­ ater content saturated, long before it baked through, a stone-­ground twelve-­grain crust with the lightness and digestibility of a manhole cover.23

Coda 247

Though Zoyd would no doubt object, pizza can be infinite in its variety, making one hungry where most it satisfies, urging one to adventurous pairings of toppings and base. And this, one might suggest, has been the pedagogical lesson of pizza in the acad­emy and in the profession for the past few de­cades, the de­cades of democ­ ratization and growth: offer students infinite variety, switch up texts and courses and approaches and requirements to make students hungry where most they are satisfied. I might suggest this, too, but with a significant and ultimately disabling complaint or caveat: as with pizza, pedagogy and learning must be artisanal before it can be adventurous, before it can make hungry where most it satisfies. This is true w ­ hether the artisanal is an old-­school storefront in a borough of New York City, or Alice W ­ aters’s ­temple to California cuisine in Berkeley. True, Domino’s or Hungry Howie’s offers to let customers build their own pizza, but customers ­can’t, ­really; it’s pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, mozzarella, pineapple, ham. One ­doesn’t find a pie of Scottish smoked salmon, red onions, capers, and dill mascarpone at Domino’s or Hungry Howie’s. Nor does one find at e­ ither establishment a pie painted with grainy mustard and then covered in carmelized onions and fontina, with a sprinkling of fresh thyme on the very top, which you can find at my home. Writing and thinking is artisanal, as is teaching. The work we do, the work we model for our students, rises slowly and reduces to its essence slowly, the result of care, of practice and yet more practice, and of experimenting again and again within the form. Writing and teaching are crafts, not mysteries to be Taylorized or produced according to an algorithm. This assertion may seem squishy, I’ll admit, surely (to be) irrelevant in an age of artificial intelligence. But in 1985, while I was still in gradu­ate school, laboring slowly over my dissertation, not g­ oing to the few conferences around then, the MLA published a book by its editorial director, Claire Kerhwald Cook. That helpful book, Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing, is one I used often and recommended again and again to students and colleagues. Yet Cook herself fretted about the need for such a volume, admitting that “computerized teaching seems so promising that I naturally wondered ­whether this book would be obsolete before it got into print.”24 Almost forty years l­ ater, Line by Line remains in print, outlasting its author who died in 2005 at the age of seventy-­eight and belying the promises of ­every software I have used that dares copyedit my writing. Line by Line teaches—­and helped me teach ­others, students— how to polish prose in any field, of any kind: “not only scholarly essays, professional articles, reference guides, and research summaries but also press releases and promotional material, business articles, technical manuals, trade books, and textbooks in such diverse fields as mathe­matics, engineering, acting, broadcasting, and sociology.” The book “should serve all writers, vari­ous creative authors aside, who care enough about their style to work at crafting clear, readable sentences—­ scholars and serious students, certainly, but also ­those in business, government, and the professions who have to prepare reports, proposals, or pre­sen­ta­tions.”25 Crafting. Crafting clear readable sentences: this is “something the world r­ eally


Sh a ron O’Da ir

needs and something an academic with the appropriate training can actually do,” as Stanley Fish argued in 2008’s Save the World on Your Own Time.26 It should go without saying that Fish thinks we are not giving our gradu­ate students the appropriate training.27

Pedagogical Scene Five: The Pedagogy of Pizza (b) Practice, then, the artisanal, is one pedagogical lesson of pizza. H ­ ere’s another. When, in 1987, I moved from Berkeley, California, to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to take up that tenure-­track position in En­glish at the University of Alabama, I did not expect to find Chez Panisse. But I did hope to find pizzas resembling the ones I had enjoyed in Northern California, ­whether old-­school or new-­school artisanal. Not so in Tuscaloosa. Not so in Birmingham, ­either, one hour away. Though Birmingham did, even then, and much to my surprise and delight, feed the foodie I had become; Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar and Grill was already gaining recognition in the South (and in 2018 fi­nally was named Amer­ic­ a’s Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation). Within a ­couple of years Stitt, who had trained, perhaps I should say practiced, in France and with Alice ­Waters in Berkeley, would open Bottega, an Italian-­ish high-­end restaurant and Bottega Café, which featured pizzas, and the pizza prob­lem was lessened, if not solved. To solve the pizza prob­lem, I began to learn to make pizza, beginning with the dough. I had always cooked but moving to Tuscaloosa turned me into an amateur cook, by which I mean I began to take cooking seriously, refining my repertoire and, haltingly, my technique. No lessons, just reading and practice. And I began to enjoy cooking for ­others, to throw dinner parties for eight. Tuscaloosa’s meager pizzas ­were matched by its meager restaurants: bar-­b-­que (which is exceptionally good, by the way, and artisanal still), meat-­and-­threes, national chains, ethnic that had been pushed to blandness to appeal to Americans. So for a cohort of about fifteen of us—­assistant professors to full professors, but reasonably close in age, no more than fifteen or twenty years apart—­the dictum was cook or die. Throw dinner parties or die. And we did. Pizzas, Indian cuisine, gumbo, red fish, pork loin, pastas of all sorts. The dinner parties ­were fun, hangover inducing, and intellectually compelling. ­Those parties made me think I’d found a milieu that approximated what I had i­magined the humanistic acad­emy to be—­smart, bookish, convivial, and demonstrating taste or an aspiration t­ oward it. In Alabama of all places, as my peers might say. As it turned out, this was ­because I was in Alabama, a state perpetually ­behind the times. As I discovered about the time we ­were throwing all ­those dinner parties, such conviviality was in decline in the rest of the country, according to the historian Lynn Hunt, who was then teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. In an essay in Alvin Kernan’s edited volume, What’s Happened to the Humanities?, Hunt observed that demographic changes in the composition of faculties had affected not only the economic conditions of employment, such as lower status

Coda 249

and lower pay, but also the social conditions of employment. With the rise of two-­ earner ­house­holds, every­one was working all day, and no one [had] the energy to or­ga­nize the dinner parties of old with eight, ten, or twelve colleagues sharing a festive meal laboriously prepared by a dutiful (and unemployed outside the home) wife. As a result, socializing and social life in general have almost dis­appeared in ­favor of official functions and much more informal interaction (but generally, I would argue, simply less interaction). Ju­nior faculty feel left out, even though ­there is no “in” that is clearly identifiable. The result is that ­there is not much of a mechanism for smoothing over the [economic] tensions already cited. Just at the moment when economic pressures create the potential for internal strife, social bonding within the university has weakened. Esprit de corps rests only tenuously on common interests, especially in disciplines that are increasingly fragmented by specialization (as most are).28

Hunt is careful to note that she does not mean “to paint a nostalgic picture of the past, when a gentlemen’s club often functioned through vari­ous forms of prejudice and unspoken exploitation.” What she does mean to suggest is that “present-­ day faculty and administrators should think about the social conditions of their employment as well as the economic ones. This is especially true in the humanities, which by their disciplinary nature have been connected in some fashion with notions of a life worth living.”29 A life worth living. A c­ areer worth having. The social conditions of work. Twenty years on, Hunt’s observations describe my department, though I have retired and returned to California. The dinner parties of old are almost gone. The dance parties, by the way, are long gone. So, too, are the after-­reading parties that once anchored the department’s creative writing series. All have been replaced “in ­favor of official functions and much more informal interaction.” My former colleagues dine at restaurants, which, in Tuscaloosa, are thankfully better than twenty years ago; usually they do so when visiting lecturers are in town, making the eve­ ning an official function. Socializing is thus forced, not so friendly, and not necessarily made up of friends: a dean might be in attendance. Few of my ju­nior colleagues cook. My department now employs more full-­time lecturers, teaching 4–4  in the lower division, than it employs research faculty teaching 2–2  in the upper division and in the gradu­ate programs. Every­one works all the time and every­one is exhausted by midsemester. Twenty years on, they now l­ abor ­under the cramped conditions Hunt described, having forgotten or ignored the pedagogical lessons of pizza, that the point of humanistic learning is artisanal for both professors and students. The point is practicing one’s skills and defining a life worth living, a point made more pointed by the Anthropocene. Perhaps the urgencies of our deteriorating planet ­will allow us to choose to change the ways we live, both personally and professionally, to slow down and to size down, to find leisure to read and think and converse. Such is my hope.


Sh a ron O’Da ir

Notes 1. ​Hannah Fry and Alejandra Reyes-­Valarde, “California Wastes Most of Its Rainwater, Which

Simply Goes Down the Drain,” Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2019, https://­www​.­latimes​.­com​ /­local​/­lanow​/l­ a​-m ­ e​-­rainwater​-­lost​-­wet​-­winter​-c­ alifornia​-­20190220​-s­ tory​.­html. The headline is misleading; the story’s focus is on urban rainfall. 2. ​Less than ten years l­ ater, I sold some to my professors in college, for one dollar each. Avocadoes had increased in popularity, but not yet to the level of avocado toast. 3. ​Sonya Larson, “At the Bottom of New Lake” (Seattle: Amazon Original Stories, 2018), loc. 233. Subsequent citations ­will be in text. 4. ​De­cades l­ater, ­after Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, I ­didn’t dream of suddenly owning beachfront property: I used to joke that not being able to afford a h­ ouse directly on the Gulf of Mexico, meant that we still had a h­ ouse standing. Not a gleaming pastel beauty on the beach, it was a beach shack located ­behind the island’s high dunes that for centuries have protected the few who call the island home, including ­humans—­from French colonizers to ­today’s loners, shrimpers, oil workers, and scientists; flora—­the tall spindly pines and squat fan palms; and fauna—­herons, snowy plovers, fox, rays, and crabs blue, ghost, and fiddler. 5. ​He made swords for my fourth-­grade class’s production of The Odyssey. I benefited from California’s robust system of public primary and secondary education, which funded excellent programs for gifted ­children. California’s spending on public education dropped dramatically ­after the passage in the late 1970s of Proposition 13. The system was hamstrung too, and around the same time, by the exodus from the teaching profession of talented young w ­ omen, newly freed to pursue other professions, law, medicine, and in my case, the professoriate. 6. ​Mas­sa­chu­setts Institute of Technology, “Carbon Footprint of Best Conserving Americans Is Still Double Global Average,” ScienceDaily, April  29, 2008, www​.­sciencedaily​.­com​/­releases​ /­2008​/­04​/­080428120658​.­htm. Also disquieting, according to Lutz Sager, is the possibility that addressing income in­equality via re­distribution “may result in higher aggregate pollution from consumption” ­because poorer ­house­holds have a “higher pollution intensity of consumption per unit of expenditure” than do richer h­ ouse­holds. Sager concludes, “Assuming that h­ ouse­holds have (conditionally) homogenous preferences, we find that a marginal transfer of 1000 USD from a richer to a poorer ­house­hold in 2009 may increase the CO2 content of that income by about 28.5kg or 5%. Similarly, we predict that aggregate h­ ouse­hold carbon would have been about 1.5% higher ­under a hy­po­thet­ic­ al scenario of income distributed as in Sweden and 2.3% higher ­under full equality.” See Lutz Sager, “Income In­equality and Carbon Consumption: Evidence from Environmental Engel Curves,” Grantham Research Institute Working Paper 285 & CCCEP Working Paper 319, November 2017: 34, http://­www​.­lse​.­ac​.u­ k​/­GranthamInstitute​/­wp​-c­ ontent​ /­uploads​/­2017​/­11​/­Working​-­Paper​-­285​-S­ ager​.­pdf. 7. ​“Tell Us What You Are ­Doing to Reduce Your Green­house Gas Emissions,” The Guardian, February  26, 2019, https://­www​.­theguardian​.­com​/­environment​/­2019​/­feb​/­26​/­tell​-­us​-­what​-­you​ -­are​-­doing​-­to​-r­ educe​-­your​-­greenhouse​-g­ as​-­emissions. 8. ​It is difficult to obtain precise figures, but consensus suggests that in the United States, for example, the average carbon footprint is around 18 metric tons of CO2. It is similarly difficult to obtain precise figures but a sustainable footprint per capita in the world is between 2 and 4 metric tons, which at the low end is lower even than the global average footprint, cited in MIT, “Carbon Footprint.” 9. ​Sharon O’Dair, “Slow Shakespeare: An Eco-­Critique of ‘Method’ in Early Modern Literary Studies,” in Early Modern Eco-­Studies: From the Florentine Codex to Shakespeare, ed. Thomas Hallock, Ivo Kamps, and Karen L. Raber (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 12. 10. ​O’Dair, 14. 11. ​Sharon O’Dair, “The State of the Green: A Review Essay on Shakespearean Ecocriticism,” Shakespeare 4, no. 4 (December 2008): 474–492.

Coda 251 12. ​Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, ed., Prismatic Ecol­ogy: Ecotheory beyond Green (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014). 13. ​See the seminal report by the Club of Rome: Donella H. Meadows et al., Limits to Growth: A Report for The Club of Rome’s Proj­ect on the Predicament of Mankind (New York: Universe Books, 1972). See also Herman Daley, Steady State Economics (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1977); and Fred Hirsch, Social Limits to Growth (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977). Daley’s book arrived in a second edition in 1992 and Taylor and Francis made Hirsch’s available again in 2005 through its e-­library. Con­temporary writers on this theme include Serge Latouche, Farewell to Growth (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2010) and Tim Jackson, Prosperity without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2017). Jackson’s book, originally published in 2010, was an unexpected hit. The second edition appeared to glowing reviews including by politicians like Yanis Varoufakis and activists like Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky. 14. ​ Sharon O’Dair, “Growing Pains,” Early Modern Culture 13, article 7 (2018), https://­ tigerprints​.­clemson​.e­ du​/­emc​/­vol13​/­iss1​/­7. 15. ​Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays (London: Faber and Faber, 2017), 268. 16. ​Kingsnorth, 144–147. 17. ​Kingsnorth, 277. 18. ​Kingsnorth, 278. 19. ​For more than a de­cade, at the University of Alabama, I directed a privately endowed gradu­ate program, the Hudson Strode Program in Re­nais­sance Studies; for another de­cade or so before that, I worked u­ nder other directors of the program. We had ample funds to allow for conference-­going by our students in both MA and PhD programs, and our students lobbied to pre­sent at conferences and even to or­ga­nize a gradu­ate student conference. But the consensus of the faculty was to encourage reading, thinking, and research, not travel or event organ­izing. 20. ​John Guillory, “Preprofessionalism: What Gradu­ate Students Want,” Profession (1996): 92. 21. ​Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four ­Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35, no. 2 (2009): 197–222. 22. ​Peter Sloterdijk, You Must Change Your Life, trans. Wieland Hoban (Malden, MA: Polity, 2013), 10. I discuss You Must Change Your Life in “Consuming Debt,” in Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination, ed. Vin Nardizzi and Tiffany Jo Werth (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019), 164–180. 23. ​Thomas Pynchon, Vineland (New York: Penguin, 1997), 45. 24. ​Claire Kerhwald Cook, Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985), ix. 25. ​Cook, viii. 26. ​Stanley Fish, Save the World on Your Own Time (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 44. 27. ​Rather than this practice, Fish observes, writing classrooms are “given over to multiculturalism or racial injustice or globalization or reproductive rights or third-­world novels or any of the other ‘topics,’ which, as worthy of study as they might be, take up all the air space and energy in the room and leave the students full of banal opinions but without the ability to use prepositions or write a clean En­glish sentence” (Save the World, 44–45). Note that Fish accepts that ­these and other “topics” are worthy subjects of study, but that the proper subject of study in the writing classroom is writing, how to “write a clean En­glish sentence,” which takes practice. In “Preprofessionalism,” Guillory offers an analy­sis about why literary study, which used to be “a refuge for progressive intellectuals, a profession in which one does no social harm, so to speak,” became in recent de­cades a field in which “social prob­lems are actively addressed by foregrounding a po­liti­cal thematic in the classroom and in publication, a thematic defined by the familiar categories of race, class, gender, or sexuality.” The reason? This “politicization of criticism is driven by the increasing social marginality of literary study, its increasing irrelevance to


Sh a ron O’Da ir

the socioeconomic conditions of our society. . . . ​If the declining market value of literary study demarcates a terrain of social marginality, this marginality is constantly converted by literary critics into the occasion of po­liti­cal expression. The greater the marginality, the greater the motive to politicize.” But ­because the field is marginalized, its politicization does not easily “circulate outside [its] domain” and is “driven back into the spaces of the professional field itself, into the classrooms, the conference halls, and academic publishing” (Guillory, “Preprofessionalism,” 93–94). Given the subsequent dissemination of our politics into the culture at large, Guillory arguably is wrong about the latter, but he remains correct, I suggest, that the field is marginalized and “the greater the marginality, the greater the motive to politicize.” 28. ​Lynn Hunt, “Democ­ratization and Decline? The Consequences of Demographic Change in the Humanities” in What’s Happened to the Humanities? ed. Alvin Kernan (Prince­ton, NJ: Prince­ton University Press, 1997), 26. 29. ​Hunt, 27.


This collection would not exist without its insightful contributors. That is true of all essay collections, of course, but it is especially true in this case. I had no plan to put together another essay collection, but when I heard the papers at the 2017 Association for the Study of Lit­er­a­ture and the Environment (ASLE) conference that form the backbone and initial impetus for this collection, the ideas seemed too good to let rest. They ­couldn’t rest, so we ­couldn’t rest, and I am exceedingly glad to see them come to fruition in this book. I owe special thanks to Sinan Akıllı, who wisely suggested Bucknell University Press as a venue for publishing t­hese essays, and to Gregory Clingham for early discussions about the proj­ect. Bucknell University Press director Suzanne  E. Guiod deserves par­tic­u­lar praise for believing in this book and helping us improve it. Her tact and grace are deeply appreciated. Pamelia Dailey answered innumerable questions and kept us on track. James Armstrong had the excellent idea for the cover image. Hilary Kennedy at Kent State patiently helped pull together the images, as did Andrea Felder and Tom Lisanti at the New York Public Library. I also want to recognize the anonymous reviewers, whose incisive readings of the manuscript led to notable improvements. Copyeditor Therese Malhame helped us refine our prose. David Adams suggested many books to me and deserves thanks, and Vicki Millard helped me talk through ideas. I also need to acknowledge the decades-­long conversations about l­ abor and leisure at ASLE conferences and elsewhere that included an ever-­shifting group of ­people, many of whom are represented in this collection. Other discussants not represented include Dan Shea, Sarah Jaquette Ray, Nate Straight, Scott Knickerbocker, Kyhl Lyndgaard, Jeremy Cohen, Rebecca Hediger, Wes Hediger, and many o­ thers. Fi­nally, Sam and Henry remind me e­ very day how to enjoy time. We should learn some ­things from c­ hildren. As Henry asked while I was working on this proj­ect, “Why is every­one working all the time?”



Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968. Adams, Amanda. “ ‘­Here, I Could Rove at ­Will’: Harriet Martineau, Sartain’s Union Magazine, and Freedom in the Transatlantic Periodical Press.” Victorian Periodicals Review 51, no.  1 (Spring 2018): 121–137. Adams, David Wallace. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–1928. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994. Adorno, Theodor. Minima Moralia. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. New York: Verso, 2006. Adorno, Theodor. Notes to Lit­er­a­ture, Vol. 1. Edited by Rolf Tiedemann. Translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. Adorno, Theodor. Notes to Lit­er­a­ture, Vol. 2. Edited by Rolf Tiedemann. Translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992. Adorno, Theodor. “Pro­gress.” Translated by Eric Krakauer. In Benjamin: Philosophy, History, Aesthetics. Edited by Gary Smith, 84–101. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Translated by Daniel Heller-­ Roazen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998. Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Between Man and Animal. Translated by Kevin Attell. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003. Agamben, Giorgio. Remnants of Auschwitz. Translated by Daniel Heller-­Roazen. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Zone Books, 2000. Ahmed, Sara. “Happy Objects.” In The Affect Theory Reader, edited by Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, 29–51. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. Akıllı, Sinan. “The Agency and the ­Matter of the Dead Horse in the Victorian Novel.” In Equestrian Cultures: Horses, ­Human Society, and the Discourse of Modernity, edited by Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld, 218–244. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019. Akıllı, Sinan. “ ‘Dearest Miss [ Jane Austen], What Ideas Have You Been Admitting?’: Pride and Prejudice in Northanger Abbey.” Paper presented at the conference “Haunted Eu­rope: Continental Connections in English-­Language Gothic Writing, Film and New Media.” Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS), Leiden University, June 9–10, 2016. Alaimo, Stacy. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. Alaimo, Stacy. Undomesticated Ground: Recasting Nature as a Feminist Space. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000. Alego, Matthew. Pedestrianism: When Watching ­People Walk Was Amer­ic­a’s Favorite Spectator Sport. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2014. Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Tenth Anniversary Edition. New York: New Press, 2020. Algeo, Thomas J., and Stephen E. Scheckler. “Terrestrial-­Marine Teleconnections in the Devonian: Links between the Evolution of Land Plants, Weathering Pro­cesses, and Marine Anoxic Events.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 353, no.1365 ( January 1998): 113–130. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1098/rstb.1998.0195. Amato, Joseph A. On Foot: A History of Walking. New York: New York University Press, 2004. Amatya, Alok, and Ashley Dawson. “Lit­er­a­ture in an Age of Extraction: An Introduction.” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 66, no.1 (2020): 1–19. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1353/mfs.2020.0000.




The American Heritage Dictionary. 2nd college ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985. Anderson, Deland. “Artist’s Statement.” Deland Anderson. Accessed January 18, 2019. https://­ artists​.c­ a​/­anderson​/­. Anderson, Deland. “Deland Anderson, the Late Bloomer.” Mishkalo. Accessed January 18, 2019. https://­mishkalo​.­com​/­deland​-­anderson​/­. Antonsich, Marco. “Book Review: bell hooks, Belonging: A Culture of Place.” Pro­gress in ­Human Geography 34, no. 5 (2010): 693–694. Archibald, Jo-­Ann. Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2008. Arendt, Hannah. The ­Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958. Atkinson, Jennifer Wren. Gardenland: Nature, Fantasy, and Everyday Practice. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018. Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. London: Penguin Books, 1994. Azarian-­Ceccato, Natasha. “Reverberations of the Armenian Genocide: Narrative’s Intergenerational Transmission and the Task of Not Forgetting.” Narrative Inquiry 20, no.  1 (2010): 106–123. Baker, William. Critical Companion to Jane Austen: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 2008. Baptist, Edward E. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. New York: Basic Books, 2014. Baptist, Edward E. “­Toward a Po­liti­cal Economy of Slave L ­ abor: Hands, Whipping-­Machines, and Modern Power.” In Beckert and Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism, 31–61. Barad, Karen. Meeting the Universe Halfway. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007. Barad, Karen. “Posthumanist Performativity: T ­ oward an Understanding of How M ­ atter Comes to ­Matter.” Signs: Journal of W ­ omen in Culture and Society 28, no. 3 (2003): 801–831. https://­ www​.­journals​.u­ chicago​.­edu​/­doi​/­abs​/­10​.­1086​/­345321. Barad, Karen. “Quantum Entanglements and Hauntological Relations of Inheritance: Dis/Continuities, Spacetime Enfoldings, and Justice-­to-­Come.” Derrida T ­ oday 3, no. 2 (2010): 240–268. Barbieri, Marcello. “What Is Biosemiotics?” Biosemiotics 1 (2008): 1–3. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1007/ s12304-008-9009-1. Bar-­On, Yinon M., Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo. “The Biomass Distribution on Earth.” PNAS 115, no. 25 ( June 19, 2018): 6506–6511. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.1711842115. Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994. Bawaka Country, Sandie Suchet-­Pearson, Sarah Wright, Kate Lloyd, and Laklak Burarrwanga. “Caring as Country: T ­ owards an Ontology of Co-­Becoming in Natu­ral Resource Management.” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 54, no. 2 (2013): 185–197. Bawaka Country, Sarah Wright, Sandie Suchet-­Pearson, Kate Lloyd, Laklak Burarrwanga, Ritjilili Ganambarr, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-­Stubbs, Banbapuy Ganambarr, Djawundil Maymuru, and Jill Sweeney. “Co-­Becoming Bawaka: ­Towards a Relational Understanding of Place/Space.” Pro­gress in H ­ uman Geography 40, no. 4 (August 2016): 455–475. doi:10.1177/0309132515589437. Beasts of the Southern Wild. Directed by Benh Zeitlin. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2012. DVD. Beckert, Sven, and Seth Rockman, eds. Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. Beckett, Samuel. Endgame and Act without Words I. New York: Grove Press, 2009. Bennett, Jane. The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics. Prince­ton, NJ: Prince­ton University Press, 2001. Bennett, Jane. Influx and Efflux: Writing Up with Walt Whitman. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020. Benton, Michael  J. “Hyperthermal-­ driven Mass Extinctions: Killing Models during the Permian–­Triassic Mass Extinction.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 376, no. 2130 (October 2018). https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1098/rsta.2017.0076.

Bibliography 257 Benyus, Janine. “Along Came a Spider.” Sierra 86, no. 4 (2001): 46–47. Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North Amer­i­ca. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998. Berry, Wendell. “Energy in Agriculture.” Bringing It to the ­Table: On Farming and Food, 57–65. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2009. Berry, Wendell. Hannah Coulter. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2004. Berry, Wendell. “Mayhem in Industrial Paradise.” A Continuous Harmony, 174–182. New York: Harvest, 1970, 1972. Berry, Wendell. The Unsettling of Amer­i­ca: Culture and Agriculture. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1977. Bessarab, Dawn, and B. Ng’Andu. “Yarning About Yarning as a Legitimate Method in Indigenous Research.” International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies 3, no. 1 (2010): 37–50. Bignall, Simone, Steve Hemming, and Daryle Rigney. “Three Ecosophies for the Anthropocene: Environmental Governance, Continental Posthumanism and Indigenous Expressivism.” Deleuze Studies 10, no. 4 (2016): 455–478. Blackmon, Douglas A. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-­Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. New York: Anchor, 2008. Blair, Nerida. Privileging Australian Indigenous Knowledge: Sweet Potatoes, Spiders, Waterlilys and Brick Walls. Champaign, IL: Common Ground, 2015. Blight, David W. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2018. Bonjour, Sophie, Heather Adair-­Rohani, Jennyfer Wolf, Nigel G. Bruce, Sumi Mehta, Annette Prüss-­ Ustün, Maureen Lahiff, Eva A. Rehfuess, Vinod Mishra, and Kirk R. Smith. “Solid Fuel Use for House­hold Cooking: Country and Regional Estimates for 1980–2010.” Environmental Health Perspectives 121, no. 7 (May 2013): 784–790. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1289/ehp.1205987. Bonneuil, Christophe, and Jean-­Baptiste Fressoz. The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History, and Us. Translated by David Fernbach. London: Verso, 2016. Bowes, John P. Land Too Good for Indians: Northern Indian Removal. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. Brannen, Peter. “The Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction.” The Atlantic, June 2017. https://­www​.t­ heatlantic​.­com​/­science​/­archive​/­2017​/­06​/­the​-­ends​-­of​-­the​-­world​/­529545​/­. Brasier, Martin, John Cowie, and Michael Taylor. “Decision on the Precambrian-­Cambrian Boundary Stratotype.” Episodes 17, no. 1 and 2 (March and June 1994): 95–100. British Pathé. New York World’s Fair 1964. YouTube video, 6:34, April 13, 2014. Accessed June 15, 2021. https://­www​.y­ outube​.­com​/­watch​?­v​=­MzhPghMdinQ&t​=3­ 4s. Britt, Robert Roy. “Pluto Demoted: No Longer a Planet in Highly Controversial Definition.” Space​.­com, August  24, 2006. https://­www​.­space​.­com​/­2791​-­pluto​-d­ emoted​-­longer​-­planet​ -­highly​-c­ ontroversial​-­definition​.­html. Broadley, Michael W., Peter H. Barry, Chris J. Ballentine, Lawrence A. Taylor, and Ray Burgess. “End-­Permian Extinction Amplified by Plume-­induced Release of Recycled Lithospheric Volatiles.” Nature Geoscience 11 (August 2018): 682–687. https://­doi​.­org/ 10.1038/s41561-018​ -0215-4. Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Hertfordshire: Words­worth Classics, 1992. Brown, Julie. “Bring More Diversity to Skiing.” Powder, January 19, 2017. https://­www​.­powder​ .­com​/­stories​/­opinion​/­extend​-­the​-­family​/­. Brown, Wendy. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. New York: Zone Books, 2015. Bryer, Thomas  A. Higher Education beyond Job Creation: Universities, Citizens, Communities. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014. Buckley, Ralf. Perspectives in Environmental Management. Berlin: Springer, 1991. Buck-­Morss, Susan. “Hegel and Haiti.” Critical Inquiry 26, no. 4 (2000): 821–865. Burgess, Seth D., James D. Muirhead, and Sam A. Bowring. “Initial Pulse of Siberian Traps Sills as the Trigger of the End-­Permian Mass Extinction.” Nature Communications 8, no.  164 ( July 2017): 821–865. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/s41467-017-00083-9.



Burns, Ken, Dayton Duncan, Buddy Squires, Allen Moore, Lincoln Else, Paul Barnes, Craig Mellish, Erik Ewers, Peter Coyote, Florentine Films, WETA-­T V, Public Broadcasting Ser­ vice, and PBS Distribution. The National Parks: Amer­ic­ a’s Best Idea. Six Parts. United States: PBS Distribution, 2009. Burroughs, John, and Charlotte Zoë Walker. The Art of Seeing ­Things: Essays. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2001. Campagna, Federico. The Last Night: Anti-­Work, Atheism, Adventure. Winchester, UK: Zero Books, 2013. Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking-­Glass. London: Macmillan, 1872. Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four ­Theses.” Critical Inquiry 35, no. 2 (2009): 197–222. Clark, Doug Bock. The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanis­hing Way of Life. New York: ­Little, Brown, 2019. Clark, Timothy. Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept. London: Bloomsbury, 2015. Clarkson, Chris, Zenobia Jacobs, Ben Marwick, Richard Fullagar, Lynley Wallis, Mike Smith, Richard G. Roberts et al. “­Human Occupation of Northern Australia by 65,000 Years Ago.” Nature 547 ( July 2017): 306–310. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature22968. Climate Central. “Coastal Nations, Megacities Face 20 Feet of Sea Rise.” Accessed September 27, 2018. http://­www​.­climatecentral​.­org​/­news​/­nations​-­megacities​-f­ ace​-­20​-­feet​-­of​-­sea​-­level​- ­r ise​ -­19217. Clute, John. “Excessive Candour: Aubade, Poor Dad.” Sci-­Fi Weekly, November 27, 2006. https://­ web​.a­ rchive​.­org​/­web​/­20090420000612​/­http://­www​.­scifi​.c­ om​/­sfw​/­books​/­column​/s­ fw14197​ .­html. Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Anarky.” In Menely and Taylor, Anthropocene Reading, 25–42. Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, ed. Prismatic Ecol­ogy: Ecotheory beyond Green. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, and Lowell Duckert. Elemental Ecocrticism: Thinking with Earth, Air, Fire, and W ­ ater. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. Colley, Linda. Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837. London: Pimlico, 2003. “Commons vs. Commodities.” CNS Web (blog), November  17, 2013. http://­www​.­cnsjournal​ .­org​/­commons​-v­ s​-­commodities​/­. Cook, Claire Kerhwald. Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985. Coster, Helen. “How to Take a Sabbatical from Work.” Forbes, August 24, 2010. https://­www​.­forbes​ .­com​/­2010​/­08​/­24​/­sabbatical​-­leave​-­work​-­leadership​-­careers​-­advice​.­html#374a581cb005. Covert, Bryce. “What Money Can Buy: The Promise of a Universal Basic Income—­and Its Limitations.” The Nation 307, no. 6 (September 2018): 33–35. Credit Suisse Research Institute. “Global Wealth Report 2013.” Accessed September 27, 2018. https://­w ww​.­credit​-­suisse​.­com​/­about​-­us​/­en​/­reports​-­research​/­global​-­wealth​-­report​ .­html. Cregan-­Reid, Vybarr. “Ecologies of L ­ abour: The Anthropocene Body as a Body of Work.” 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth ­Century 26 (2018): 1–8. Crèvecoeur, J. Hector St. John de. Letters from an American Farmer and Sketches of Eighteenth-­ Century Amer­i­ca. Edited by Albert E. Stone. Harmonds­worth, Middlesex: Penguin Classics, 1981. Crist, Eileen. “On the Poverty of Our Nomenclature.” Environmental Humanities 3 (2013): 129–147. “The Critical Zone.” Critical Zone Observatories: USF National Program. Accessed March 24, 2018. https://­czo​-­archive​.­criticalzone​.­org​/­national​/­research​/­the​-­critical​-­zone​-­1national​/­. Cross, Gary S. Preface. Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in Amer­ic­ a. Vol. 1. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2004. Cross, Gary S. A Social History of Leisure since 1600. State College, PA: Venture, 1990.

Bibliography 259 Crutzen, Paul, and Eugene  F. Stoermer. “The ‘Anthropocene.’ ” Global Change Newsletter 41 (May 2000): 17–18. http://­www​.­igbp​.n­ et​/­download​/­18​.3­ 16f18321323470177580001401​/­13763​ 83088452​/­NL41​.­pdf. Daley, Herman. Steady State Economics. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1977. Davis, Lennard J. Factual Fictions: The Origins of the En­glish Novel. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. Davis, Mike. Planet of Slums. London: Verso, 2007. Deeper. Directed by Jeremy Jones. 2013. Wilson: Teton Gravity Research. Film. Derrida, Jacques. Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International. New York: Routledge, 1994. De Vries, Jan. The Industrious Revolution: Consumer Be­hav­ior and the House­hold Economy, 1650 to the Pre­sent. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Dibley, Ben. “ ‘The Shape of Th ­ ings to Come’: Seven Th ­ eses on the Anthropocene and Attachment.” Australian Humanities Review, no. 52 (May 1, 2012). http://­australianhumanitiesreview​.­org​ /­2012​/­05​/0­ 1​/­the​-­shape​-­of​-­things​-­to​-­come​-­seven​-­ theses-­on-­the-­anthropocene-­and-­attachment/. Dillehay, Tom D., Carlos Ocampo, José Saavedra, Andre Oliveira Sawakuchi, Rodrigo M. Vega, Mario Pino, Michael B. Collins et al. “New Archaeological Evidence for an Early ­Human Presence at Monte Verde, Chile.” PLoS One (November 2015). https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1371/journal​ .pone.0141923. Dirzo, Rodolfo, Hillary S. Young, Mauro Galetti, Gerardo Ceballos, Nick J. B. Isaac, and Ben Collen. “Defaunation in the ‘Anthropocene.’ ” Science 345, no. 6195 ( July 2014): 401–406. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/science.1251817. Doreé, Gina M. Victorian Fiction and the Cult of the Horse. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006. Doughty, Christopher E., Adam Wolf, and Yadvinder Malhi. “The Legacy of the Pleistocene Megafauna Extinctions on Nutrient Availability in Amazonia.” Nature Geoscience 6 (August 2013): 761–764. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/ngeo1895. Douglass, Frederick. “Address Delivered by Hon. Frederick Douglass, at the Third Annual Fair of the Tennessee Colored Agricultural and Mechanical Association.” Image. Washington, DC, Library of Congress. Accessed November 21, 2018. https://­www​.­loc​.g­ ov​/­resource​/­mfd​ .­22023​/­​?­sp​=2­ . Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. 1845. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1995. Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.Dunn, Rob. “A Science Miniseries: The Big Story of Alcohol, Civilization and a ­Little Fungus.” Scientific American Guest Blog, February 2012. https://­blogs​ .­scientificamerican​.­com​/­guest​-b­ log​/­a​-­science​-­miniseries​-­the​-b­ ig​-s­ tory​-o­ f​-­alcohol​-­civilization​ -­and​-­a-​ ­little​-­fungus​/­. Dutton, Andrea, A. E. Carlson, A. J. Long, G. A. Milne, P. U. Clark, R. DeConto, B. P. Horton, S. Rahmstorf, and M. E. Raymo. “Sea-­Level Rise due to Polar Ice-­Sheet Mass Loss during Past Warm Periods.” Science 49, no. 6244 ( July 2015): aaa4019. https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1126/science​ .aaa4019. Dyble, Mark, Jack Thorley, Abigail  E. Page, Daniel Smith, and Andrea Bamberg Migliano. “Engagement in Agricultural Work Is Associated with Reduced Leisure Time among Agta Hunter-­Gatherers.” Nature ­Human Be­hav­ior 3, no. 8 (May 2019): 792–796. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038​ /s41562-019-0614-6. Easley, Alexis. “The W ­ oman of Letters at Home: Harriet Martineau and the Lake District.” Victorian Lit­er­a­ture and Culture 34, no. 1 (2006): 291–310. Ebrahimji, Alish. “Black Lives ­Matter Protests ­Aren’t Just Happening in Big Cities: ­They’re Also in Amer­ic­a’s Small Towns.” CNN, June  6, 2020. https://­www​.c­ nn​.c­ om​/­2020​/­06​/­06​/­us​ /­small​-­town​-­blm​-­protests​-­trnd​/­index​.­html. Energy Information Administration. “Annual Coal Production.” Accessed September 23, 2018. http://­www​.­eia​.g­ ov​/­totalenergy​/­data​/­annual​/­pdf​/­sec7​_­7​.­pdf.



Engels, Friederich. The Condition of the Working Class in E ­ ngland. Edited by Victor Kiernan. London: Penguin Books, 1987. Epaddon. “1964 World’s Fair: Travelers Insurance Exhibit—­‘The Triumph of Man.’ ” YouTube video, 11:22, July  12, 2016. Accessed June  15, 2021. https://­www​.­youtube​.­com​/­watch​?­v​ =­SeSS3SILD9Q. Faust, Drew Gilpin. The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South, 1830– 1860. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981. Fay, Jennifer. Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Federal Reserve Board of St. Louis. “Total Employment: Coal Mining.” Accessed September 23, 2018. https://­fred​.­stlouisfed​.­org​/­series​/­CEU1021210001#0. Fielding, Henry. Joseph Andrews. New York: Modern Library, 1950. Finney, Carolyn. Black ­Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the ­Great Outdoors. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014. Finney, Stanley C., and Lucy E. Edwards. “The ‘Anthropocene’ Epoch: Scientific Decision or Po­liti­cal Statement?” GSA T ­ oday 26, no. 3 (March/April 2016): 4–10. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1130​ /­GSATG270A.1. Fish, Stanley. Save the World on Your Own Time. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Fisher, Lydia. “Agricultural Science, Sentiment, and the Domesticated Slave.” ESQ: A Journal of the American Re­nais­sance 58, no.  3 (February  11, 2013): 375–414. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1353​ /­esq.2013.0000. Fisher, Mark. Cap­it­ al­ist Realism: Is Th ­ ere No Alternative? Winchester, UK: John Hunt, 2009. Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: Amer­i­ca’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877. 1st ed. The New American Nation Series. New York: Harper and Row, 1988. Food and Agriculture Organ­ization of the United Nations. “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2018.” Accessed September  27, 2018. http://­www​.­fao​.­org​/­state​-­of​ -­food​-s­ ecurity​-­nutrition​/­en​/­. Foster, John Bellamy. “Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift: Classical Foundations for Environmental Sociology.” American Journal of Sociology 105, no. 2 (1999): 366–405. Frankenberger, Robert, and James Garrison. “From Rustic Romanticism to Modernism, and Beyond: Architectural Resources in the National Parks,” Forum Journal: Journal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (2002). http://­forum​.­savingplaces​.­org​/­viewdocument​ /­from​-r­ ustic​-­romanticism​-­tomodernism. Franklin, Benjamin. Autobiography and Other Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Frey, Anne. “A Nation without Nationalism: The Reor­ga­ni­za­tion of Feeling in Austen’s Persuasion.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 38, no. 2/3 (2005): 214–234. https://­www​.­jstor​.­org​/­stable​ /­40267625. Fry, Hannah, and Alejandra Reyes-­Valarde. “California Wastes Most of Its Rainwater, Which Simply Goes Down the Drain.” Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2019. https://­www​.­latimes​ .­com​/­local​/­lanow​/­la​-­me​-­rainwater​-­lost​-­wet​-­winter​-­california​-­20190220​-s­ tory​.­html. Fumano, Dan. “Innovation Series: Does the Gig Economy Mean ‘Endless Possibilities’ or the Death of Jobs?” Vancouver Sun, updated October  8, 2016. https://­vancouversun​.­com​ /­business​/l­ ocal​-­business​/­innovation​-­series​-­feature​-­on​-­the​-­gig​-­economy. Further. Directed by Jeremy Jones. 2012; Wilson, WY: Teton Gravity Research. Film. Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism (The New Critical Idiom). 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2012. Gaskell, Elizabeth. Mary Barton. Edited by Edgar Wright. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Gates, Paul W. The Farmer’s Age: Agriculture, 1815–1860. New York: Harper and Row, 1968. “Gerard Baker.” ­People. The National Parks: Amer­i­ca’s Best Idea. A film by Ken Burns. PBS​.­Org. Accessed October 17, 2018. http://­www​.­pbs​.­org​/­nationalparks​/­people​/­nps​/­baker​/­. Ghosh, Amitav. “Petrofiction.” New Republic 206, no. 9 (March 1992): 29–34.

Bibliography 261 Giddens, Anthony. The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990. Giddens, Anthony. Conversations with Anthony Giddens: Making Sense of Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998. Gleeson, Tom, Yoshihide Wada, Marc F. P. Bierkens, and Ludovicus P. H. van Beek. “­Water Balance of Global Aquifers Revealed by Groundwater Footprint.” Nature 488 (August 2012): 197–200. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature11295. Glissant, Édouard. Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbor: University Press of Michigan, 1997. Gottschall, Jonathon. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us ­Human. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Gowlett, John A. J. “The Discovery of Fire by H ­ umans: A Long and Convoluted Pro­cess.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences 371, no.  1696 ( June  2016). http://­doi​.­org​/­10​.­1098​/­rstb​.­2015​.­0164. Grace, Patricia. Potiki. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1995. Graeber, David. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2018. Graeber, David. “Is Your Job Bullshit? David Graeber or Capitalism’s Endless Busywork.” Interview by Dayton Martindale. In ­These Times (Thursday, May 10, 2018). http://­inthesetimes​ .­com​/­working​/­entry​/­21134​/­capitalism​-­job​-­bullshit​-­david​-­graeber​-­busywork​-­labor. Graeber, David. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant.” Strike! no.  3 (August 2013). https://­strikemag​.­org​/­bullshit​-­jobs​/­. Graeber, David. “Turning Modes of Production Inside Out: Or, Why Capitalism Is a Transformation of Slavery (Short Version).” Critique of Anthropology 26, no. 1 (March 2006): 61–81. Grebowicz, Margret. The National Park to Come. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015. Green, Adrienne. “How Common Is a Gap Year?” The Atlantic, May  2, 2016. https://­www​ .­theatlantic​.­com​/­education​/­archive​/­2016​/­05​/­how​-­common​-­is​-­a-​ ­gap​-­year​/­480921​/­. Greer, Allan. “Australian Goannas—­Evolution and Radiation.” Australian Museum. Accessed September  13, 2021. https://­australianmuseum​.­net​.­au​/­australian​-­goannas​-­evolution​-­and​ -­radiation. Greeson, Jennifer Rae. “The Prehistory of Possessive Individualism.” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of Amer­i­ca 127, no. 4 (2012): 918–924. Gresky, Julia, Juliane Haelm, and Lee Clare. “Modified ­Human Crania from Göbekli Tepe Provide Evidence for a New Form of Neolithic Skull Cult.” Science Advances 3, no. 6 ( June 2017). https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/sciadv.1700564i. Grusin, Richard. “Introduction: Anthropocene Feminism: An Experiment in Collaborative Theorizing.” In Anthropocene Feminism, edited Richard Grusin, vii–­xix. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017. Guariglia, Justin, and Timothy Morton. We Are the Asteroid III. Public art installation. Houston, TX, 2019. Guest, Kristen, and Monica Mattfeld, ed. Equestrian Cultures: Horses, ­Human Society, and the Discourse of Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019. Guillory, John. “Preprofessionalism: What Gradu­ate Students Want.” Profession (1996): 91–99. Haigh, Jennifer. Heat and Light. New York: HarperCollins, 2016. Hall, Oakley. Warlock. New York: Viking, 1958. Haraway, Donna J. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities 6 (2015): 159–165. http://­environmentalhumanities .org​/­arch​/­vol6​ /­6​.­7​.­pdf. Haraway, Donna J. “Staying with the Trou­ble: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene.” In Moore, Anthropocene or Capitalocene? 34–76. Haraway, Donna [ J.]. Staying with the Trou­ble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016. Haraway, Donna J. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.



Haraway, Donna [ J.], Noburu Ishikawa, Scott F. Gilbert, Kenneth Olwig, Anna L. Tsing, and Nils Bubandt. “Anthropologists Are Talking—­About the Anthropocene,” Ethnos 81, no.  3 (2016): 535–564. Hardoon, Deborah, Ricardo Fuentes-­Nieva, and Sophia Ayele. An Economy for the 1%: How Privilege and Power in the Economy Drive Extreme In­equality and How This Can Be ­Stopped. Oxfam, January 2016. https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.21201/2016.592643. Harrison, Neil, Frances Bodkin, Gawaian Bodkin-­Andrews, and Elizabeth Mackinlay. “Sensational Pedagogies: Learning to Be Affected by Country.” Curriculum Inquiry 47, no. 5 (2017): 504–519. Harrison, Neil, and Rebecca McLean. “Getting Yourself out of the Way: Aboriginal ­People Listening and Belonging in the City.” Geo­graph­i­cal Research 55, no. 4 (2017): 359–368. Hartley, Gemma. Fed Up: Emotional L ­ abor, W ­ omen, and the Way Forward. New York: HarperCollins, 2018. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1990. Haskins, Justin. “Al Gore, UN Secretary-­General, ­Others Now Demanding ‘­Great Reset’ of Global Capitalism.” Fox News, June  25, 2020. https://­www​.­foxbusiness​.­com​/­markets​/­al​ -­gore​-­un​-­secretary​-­general​-­great​-­reset​-­global​-­capitalism. Hediger, Ryan. Homesickness: Of Trauma and the Longing for Place in a Changing Environment. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019. Heise, Ursula. Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. Henley, Jon. “Finland to End Basic Income Trial ­after Two Years.” The Guardian, April 23, 2018. https://­w ww​.­theguardian​.­com​/­world​/­2018​/­apr​/­23​/­f inland​-­to​-­end​-­basic​-­income​-­trial​ -­after​-t­ wo​-­years. Herman, Jon. “Elitist Bastard.” In Trail Break: The Winter Wildlands Alliance Newsletter (2018): 10. Boise: Winter Wildlands Alliance. Higher. Directed by Jeremy Jones. 2014; Wilson: Teton Gravity Research. Film. Hipperson, Julie. “ ‘Efficiency on Foot?’ The Well-­Run Estate of Nineteenth-­Century E ­ ngland.” In Walking Histories, 1800–1914, edited by Chad Bryamt, Arthur Burns, and Paul Readman, 139–161. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. Hirsch, Fred. Social Limits to Growth. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977. Hixon, Sean W., Carl P. Lipo, Ben McMorran, and Terry L. Hunt. “The Colossal Hats (Pukao) of Monumental Statues on Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile): Analyses of Pukao Variability, Transport, and Emplacement.” Journal of Archaeological Science (May 2018). https://­doi​.­org​ /­10.1016/j.jas.2018.04.011. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. 1651. Reprint, edited by A. P. Martinich. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2002. Hochschild, Arlie Russell. The Managed Heart: Commercialization of H ­ uman Feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Hofstadter, Richard. “The Myth of the Happy Yeoman.” American Heritage 7, no.  3 (1956). https://­www​.a­ mericanheritage​.­com​/­myth​-­happy​-­yeoman. Hongfu, Yin, Zhang Kexin, Tong Jinnan, Yang Zunyi, and Wu Shunbao. “The Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Permian-­Triassic Boundary.” Episodes 24, no. 2 ( June 2001): 102–114. www​.­stratigraphy​.­org​/­bak​/­Induan​.­pdf. Houston, Donna, Diana Maccallum, Wendy Steele, and Jason Byrne. “Climate Cosmopolitics and the Possibilities for Urban Planning.” Nature + Culture 11, no. 3 (2016): 259–277. Hughes, Robert. The Fatal Shore: A History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787– 1868. London: Collins Harvill, 1987. ­Human Animal Research Network Editorial Collective, eds. Animals in the Anthropocene: Critical Perspectives on Non-­Human F ­ utures. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2015.

Bibliography 263 Hunnicutt, Benjamin Kline. ­Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream. Philadelphia: ­Temple University Press, 2013. Hunt, Lynn. “Democ­ratization and Decline? The Consequences of Demographic Change in the Humanities.” In What’s Happened to the Humanities? edited by Alvin Kernan, 17–31. Prince­ton, NJ: Prince­ton University Press, 1997. Indigenous Geotags. “Public Land Is Native Land.” Accessed October 20, 2018. https://­www​ .­indigenousgeotags​.­com​/­. International Organ­ization for Migration. “Migration, Climate Change and the Environment: A Complex Nexus.” Accessed September  27, 2018. https://­www​.­iom​.­int​/­complex​-n­ exus#​ estimates. “In the Light of Reverence.” POV. PBS​.­Org. Accessed October  17, 2018. http://­www​.­pbs​.­org​ /­pov​/i­ nthelightofreverence​/­. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. http://­www​.­ipcc​.­ch​/­report​/­ar5​/­wg1​/­. “It’s a Small World: Walt Disney Rec­ords.” Lyr­ics​.­com. Accessed April 22, 2022. https://­www​ .­lyr­ics​.c­ om​/­lyric​/­3103666​/­Disney​/­It%27s+a+Small+World+%28After+All%29. Ivakhiv, Adrian. “Nature’s Nation: Improvisation, Democracy, and Ken Burns’ National Parks.” Environmental Communication 4, no. 4 (2010): 462–468. Jackson, Tim. Prosperity without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2017. James, Jeremy. “Atın Gizemli Mantosu.” Şarkî Edebiyat ve Sanat Dergisi 6–7 (2018): 216–231. Jasechko, Scott, Zachary D. Sharp, John J. Gibson, S. Jean Birks, Yi Yi, and Peter J. Fawcett. “Terrestrial W ­ ater Fluxes Dominated by Transpiration.” Nature 496 (April 2013): 347–351. https://­ doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature11983. Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of V ­ irginia: With Related Documents. Edited by David Waldstreicher. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2002. Joachimski, Michael M., Xulong Lai, Shuzhong Shen, Haishui Jiang, Genming Luo, Bo Chen, Jun Chen, and Yadong Sun. “Climate Warming in the Latest Permian and the Permian–­Triassic Mass Extinction.” Geology 40, no. 3 (March 2012): 195–198. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1130/G32707.1. Johnson, Claudia L., and Clara Tuite, ed. A Companion to Jane Austen. Oxford: Wiley-­Blackwell, 2009. Joyce, James. “The Dead.” In Dubliners, 199–259. New York: Dover Thrift Editions, 1991. Kallis, Giorgos, and Hug March. “Imaginaries of Hope: The Utopianism of Degrowth.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105, no. 2 (2015): 360–368. Kaplan, Amy. “Manifest Domesticity.” American Lit­er­at­ ure 70, no. 3 (September 1998): 581–606. Kaplan, Jed O., Mirjam Pfeiffer, Jan C. A. Kolen, and Basil A. S. Davis. “Large Scale Anthropogenic Reduction of Forest Cover in Last Glacial Maximum Eu­rope.” PLoS One 11, no.  11 (November 2016). https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1371/journal.pone.0166726. Karskens, Grace. The Colony: A History of Early Sydney. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2010. Keeler, Kyle. “Colonial Theft and Indigenous Re­sis­tance in the Kleptocene.” Edge Effects, September 8, 2020. https://­edgeeffects​.­net​/­kleptocene​/­. Kelley, Theresa M. Clandestine Marriage: Botany and Romantic Culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012. Keltner, Dacher. “Why Do We Feel Awe?” Greater Good Magazine: Science-­Based Insights for a Meaningful Life, May 10, 2016. https://­greatergood​.­berkeley​.e­ du​/­article​/­item​/­why​_­do​_­we​ _­feel​_­awe. Keltner, Dacher, and Jonathan Haidt. “Approaching Awe, a Moral, Spiritual, and Aesthetic Emotion.” Cognition & Emotion 17 (2003): 297–314. Kidder, David L., and Thomas R. Worsley. “A Human-­induced Hot­house Climate?” GSA ­Today 22, no. 2 (February 2012): 4–11. https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10​.­1130​/­G131A​.­1.



King, Leonid W. A History of Sumer and Akkad. CreateSpace In­de­pen­dent Publishing Platform, 2015. Kingsnorth, Paul. Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays. London: Faber and Faber, 2017. Kinjerski, Val, and Berna  J. Skrypnek. “Four Paths to Spirit at Work: Journeys of Personal Meaning, Fulfillment, Well-­Being, and Transcendence through Work.” ­Career Development Quarterly 56, no. 4 (2008): 319–329. Kirby, Jen. “ ‘Black Lives M ­ atter’ Has Become a Global Rallying Cry against Racism and Police Brutality.” Vox, June  12, 2020. https://­www​.­vox​.­com​/­2020​/­6​/­12​/­21285244​/­black​-­lives​ -­matter​-­global​-­protests​-­george​-­floyd​-­uk​-­belgium. Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine. New York: Picador Press, 2007. Klein, Naomi. This Changes Every­thing: Capitalism vs. the Climate. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014. Knoll, Andrew H., Malcolm R. Walter, Guy M. Narbonne, and Nicholas Christie-­Blick. “The Ediacaran Period: A New Addition to the Geologic Time Scale.” Lethaia 39 (March 2006): 13–30. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1080/00241160500409223. Kodros, John K., E. Car­ter, M. Brauer, J. Volckens, K. R. Bilsback, C. L’Orange, M. Johnson, and J.  R. Pierce. “Quantifying the Contribution to Uncertainty in Mortality Attributed to House­hold, Ambient, and Joint Exposure to PM2.5 from Residential Solid Fuel Use.” GeoHealth 2, no. 1 (December 2017): 25–39. https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1002/2017GH000115. Kollin, Susan. “The Wild, Wild North: Nature Writing, Nationalist Ecologies, and Alaska.” American Literary History 12, no. 1/2 (Spring–­Summer 2000): 41–78. Kopp, Robert E., Frederik J. Simons, Jerry X. Mitrovica, Adam C. Maloof, and Michael Oppenheimer. “Probabilistic Assessment of Sea Level during the Last Interglacial Stage.” Nature 462 (December 2009): 863–867. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature08686. Krausmann, Fridolin, Karl-­Heinz Erb, Simone Gingrich, Helmut Haberl, Alberte Bondeau, Veronika Gaube, Christian Lauk, Christoph Plutzar, and Timothy D. Searchinger. “Global ­Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production Doubled in the 20th ­Century.” PNAS 110, no. 25 ( June 2013): 10324–10329. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.1211349110. Krugman, Paul. “­Don’t Blame Robots for Low Wages.” New York Times, March 15, 2019. Ladino, Jennifer K. Memorials ­Matter: Emotion, Environment, and Public Memory in American Historic Sites. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2019. Ladino, Jennifer K. Reclaiming Nostalgia: Longing for Nature in American Lit­er­a­ture. Charlottesville: University of ­Virginia Press, 2012. Landry, Donna. Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed En­glish Culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. Larson, Greger, Dolores R. Piperno, Robin G. Allaby, Michael D. Purugganan, Leif Andersson, Manuel Arroyo-­Kalin, Loukas Barton, Cynthia Climer Vigueira et al. “Current Perspectives and the ­Future of Domestication Studies.” PNAS 111, no. 17 (April 2014): 6139–6146. https://­ doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.1323964111. Larson, Sonya. “At the Bottom of New Lake.” Seattle: Amazon Original Stories, 2018. Latouche, Serge. Farewell to Growth. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2010. Latour, Bruno. Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime. Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2018. Latour, Bruno. Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017. Latour, Bruno. “ ‘It’s Development, Stupid!’ or: How to Modernize Modernization.” 2008. http://­w ww​.­b runo​ -­l atour​ .­f r​ /­s ites​ /­d efault​ /­f iles​ /­107​ -­N ORDHAUS%26​ S HELLEN​ BERGER​.­pdf. Latour, Bruno. “On a Pos­si­ble Difference between Earth and the Globe.” Mosse Lecture on ­Future Knowledge, May  12, 2016, Humboldt University, Berlin. YouTube, uploaded by

Bibliography 265 Humboldt-­Universität zu Berlin, May  26, 2016. Accessed June  15, 2021. https://­www​ .­youtube​.c­ om​/­watch​?­v​=­uVCsUMxzWNg. Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Dept. of Energy. “Estimated U.S. Energy Consumption in 2017: 97.7 Quads,” 2018. Accessed September  2018. https://­flowcharts​.­llnl​.­gov​/­content​ /­assets​/i­ mages​/­energy​/u­ s​/E ­ nergy​_­US​_2­ 017​.­png. Leavis, Queenie D. “The En­glishness of the En­glish Novel.” Higher Education Quarterly 35, no. 2 (1981): 149–171. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1111/j.1468-2273.1981.tb01290.x. Lee, Bilawara. Healing from the Dilly Bag. Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2013. LeManager, Stephanie. “Love and Theft; or, Provincializing the Anthropocene.” PMLA 136, no. 1 (2021): 102–109. Lenzen, Manfred, Ya-­Yen Sun, Futu Faturay, Yuan-­Peng Ting, Arne Geschke, and Arunima Malik. “The Carbon Footprint of Global Tourism.” Nature Climate Change 8 (2018): 522–528. Lewis, Simon L., and Mark A. Maslin. “Defining the ‘Anthropocene.’ ” Nature 519 (March 23, 2015): 171–180. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/nature14258. Li, Jianfeng, Yongqin David Chen, Thian Yew Gan, and Ngar-­Cheung Lau. “Elevated Increases in Human-­Perceived Temperature u­ nder Climate Warming.” Nature Climate Change 8 ( January 2018): 43–47. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1038/s41558-017-0036-2. Linck, Even. “Your Stoke ­Won’t Save Us.” High Country News 50, no. 8 (2018). https://­www​.­hcn​ .­org​/­issues​/­50​.­8​/­recreation​-­your​-­stoke​-­wont​-­save​-­us. Lindsay, Brendan. Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide, 1846–1873. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012. Linklater, Andro. Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Owner­ship. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Liu, Li, Jiajing Wang, Danny Rosenberg, Hao Zhao, György Lengyel, and Dani Nadel. “Fermented Beverage and Food Storage in 13,000 y-­old Stone Mortars at Raqefet Cave, Israel: Investigating Natufian Ritual Feasting.” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 21 (September 2018): 783–793. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.08.008. Liu,Yansui, and Yuheng Li. “Revitalize the World’s Countryside.” Nature 548, no.  7667 (August 2017): 275–277. doi:10.1038/548275a. Lorde, Audre. “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” In ­Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 53–59. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press, 1984. Lotman, Yuri M. Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. Love, Shayla. “The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less.” Vice, May 29, 2019. https://­ www​.v­ ice​.­com​/­en​_­us​/­article​/­bj9yjq​/­the​-­radical​-­plan​-­to​-­save​-­the​-­planet​-b­ y​-­working​-­less. Lovett, Bobby  L. “Tennessee Manual L ­ abor University.” Tennessee Encyclopedia (blog). Accessed November  19, 2018. https://­tennesseeencyclopedia​.n­ et​/­entries​/­tennessee​-m ­ anual​ -­labor​-u­ niversity​/­. Lynch, Tom. “Humanities u­ nder the Sign of the Anthropocene.” Tom Lynch’s Homepage (blog), August  31, 2018. https://­tom​-­lynch​.­net​/­2018​/­08​/­31​/­humanities​-­under​-­the​-­sign​-­of​-­the​ -­anthropocene​/­. Macdonald, Graeme. “Oil and World Lit­er­a­ture.” American Book Review 33, no.  3 (March/ April 2012): 7, 31. Macfarlane, Robert. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. London: Penguin Books, 2012. MacLean, Gerald. Looking East: En­glish Writing and the Ottoman Empire before 1800. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. “Maintenance Backlog.” National Park Ser­vice. NPS​.­gov. Updated September 6, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2018. https://­www​.n­ ps​.­gov​/­subjects​/­infrastructure​/­maintenance​-­backlog​.­htm. Mallapaty, Smriti. “Animal Source of the Coronavirus Continues to Elude Scientists.” Nature, May 18, 2020. https://­www​.­nature​.­com​/­articles​/­d41586​-­020​-­01449​-­8.



Malm, Andreas. Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming. London: Verso, 2016. Malthus, Thomas Robert. An Essay on the Princi­ple of Population As It Affects the F ­ uture Improvement of Society, with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Goodwin, M. Condorcet and Other Writers. London: J. Johnson in St Paul’s Church-­yard, 1798. Mannon, Ethan. “Leisure and Technology in Port William: Wendell Berry’s Revelatory Fiction.” Mississippi Quarterly 67, no. 2 ( January 2014): 171–192. “Mappa mundi.” Wikipedia. Accessed February 3, 2018. https://­en​.­wikipedia​.­org​/­wiki​/­Mappa​ _­mundi. “Mappa Mundi,” A History of the World, BBC, 2014, http://­www​.­bbc​.­co​.­uk​ /­ahistoryoftheworld​/­objects​/z­ rKd​-­Z0wS7CSYjB​_­DlRbrA. Marland, Gregg, T. A. Boden, and R. J. Andres. “Global, Regional, and National CO2 Emissions.” Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change. Carbon Dioxide Information Analy­sis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, United States Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, TN, 2007. Martin, Bonnie. “Neighbor-­to-­Neighbor Capitalism: Local Credit Networks and the Mortgaging of Slaves.” In Beckert and Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism, 107–121. Martineau, Harriet. Harriet Martineau: Further Letters. Edited by Deborah A. Logan. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2012. Martineau, Harriet. “Lights of the En­glish Lake District.” In An In­de­pen­dent ­Woman’s Lake District Writings, edited by Michael R. Hill, 423–466. Classics in W ­ omen’s Studies. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2004. Martineau, Harriet. A Year at Ambleside. In An In­de­pen­dent W ­ oman’s Lake District Writings, edited by Michael R. Hill, 61–204. Classics in W ­ omen’s Studies. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2004. Marx, Karl. Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Po­liti­cal Ecol­ogy. Translated by Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. Marx, Karl. The German Ideology: Including ­Theses on Feuerbach and Introduction to The Critique of Po­liti­cal Economy. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1976. Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels, Ernest Mandel, Ben Fowkes, and David Fernbach. Capital: A Critique of Po­liti­cal Economy. London: Penguin Books in association with New Left Review, 1990. Mas­sa­chu­setts Institute of Technology. “Carbon Footprint of Best Conserving Americans Is Still Double Global Average.” ScienceDaily, April 29, 2008. www​.­sciencedaily​.­com​/­releases​ /­2008​/0­ 4​/0­ 80428120658​.­htm. Masson-­Delmotte, Valerie, Panmao Zhai, Hans-­Otto Pörtner, Debra Roberts, James Skea, ­Priyadarshi Shukla, Anna Pirani et al., eds. “A Summary for Policymakers.” In IPCC Special Report: Global warming of 1.5°C. Geneva: World Meteorological Organ­ization, 2018. http://­ www​.­ipcc​.c­ h​/­report​/­sr15​/­. Matthews, Dylan. “The Amazing True Socialist Miracle of the Alaska Permanent Fund.” Vox, February  13, 2018. https://­www​.­vox​.­com​/­policy​-­and​-­politics​/­2018​/­2​/­13​/­16997188​/­alaska​ -­basic​-­income​-­permanent​-­fund​-­oil​-­revenue​-­study. Mbembe, Achille. Necropolitics. Translated by Steven Corcoran. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. McDowell, Paula. The Invention of the Oral: Print Commerce and Fugitive Voices in Eighteenth-­ Century Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. McGillivray, David, and Matt Frew. “Capturing Adventure: Trading Experiences in the Symbolic Economy.” Annals of Leisure Research 10, no. 1 (2007): 54–78. McHale, Brian. “Genre as History: Genre-­Poaching in Against the Day.” In Pynchon’s Against the Day: A Corrupted Pilgrim’s Guide, 5–20. Edited by Jeffrey Severs and Christopher Leise. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2011. McKeon, Michael. “Generic Transformation and Social Change: Rethinking the Rise of the Novel.” Cultural Critique 1 (1985): 159–181. https://­www​.­jstor​.­org​/­stable​/­1354286.

Bibliography 267 McKibben, Bill. Enough: Staying ­Human in an Engineered Age. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004. McKie, Robin. “10,000 Years of Cheers: Why Social Drinking Is an Ancient Ritual.” The Guardian. September  1, 2018. https://­www​.­theguardian​.c­ om​/­society​/­2018​/­sep​/­01​/­social​-­drinking​ -­moderation​-­health​-r­ isks. McNeill, John Robert, and Peter Engelke. The ­Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. McNickle, D’Arcy. Wind from an ­Enemy Sky. New York: Harper and Row, 1978. Meadows, Donella H., Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III. Limits to Growth: A Report for The Club of Rome’s Proj­ect on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: Universe Books, 1972. Means Coleman, Robin R. Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Pre­ sent. New York: Routledge, 2011. Mee, Kathleen, and Sarah Wright. “Geographies of Belonging: Why Belonging? Why Geography?” Environment and Planning A 41, no. 4 (2009): 772–779. Melville, Herman. Moby-­Dick. New York: Bantam, 1851. Menely Tobias, and Jesse Oak Taylor, eds. Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2017. Menely, Tobias, and Jesse Oak Taylor. Introduction. In Menely and Taylor, Anthropocene Reading, 1–14. Mentz, Steve. Break Up the Anthropocene. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019. Metcalf, Jessica L., Chris Turney, Ross Barnett, Fabiana Martin, Sarah C. Bray, Julia T. Vilstrup, Ludovic Orlando et al. “Synergistic Roles of Climate Warming and ­Human Occupation in Patagonian Megafaunal Extinctions during the Last Deglaciation.” Science Advances 2, no. 6 ( June 2016). https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/sciadv.1501682. Miller, Scott G. “Environmental Impacts: The Dark Side of Outdoor Recreation?” Outdoor Recreation: Promise and Peril in the New West (Summer Conference, June 8–10, 1998). Accessed March  1, 2019. https://­scholar​.­law​.­colorado​.­edu​/­outdoor​-­recreation​-­promise​-­and​-­peril​-­in​ -­new​-­west​/­4. Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin, 1985. Mitchell, Audra. “Extinction Is the End or Is It?” Worldly (blog), June 30, 2016. https://­worldlyir​ .­wordpress​.­com​/­2016​/­06​/­30​/­extinction​-­is​-­the​-e­ nd​-­or​-­is​-­it​/­. Mitchell, Audra. “Lifework Part 1.” Wordly (blog), September  14, 2016. https://­worldlyir​ .­wordpress​.­com​/­2016​/­09​/­14​/­lifework​/­. Mitchell, Audra. “Lifework Part 2.” Worldly (blog), April 9, 2017. https://­worldlyir​.­wordpress​ .­com​/­2017​/­04​/­09​/­lifework​-­part​-­ii​/­. Moore, Jason W., ed. Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016. Moore, Jason W. Capitalism and the Web of Life: Ecol­ogy and the Accumulation of Capital. London: Verso, 2015. Moore, Jason W. “The Rise of Cheap Nature.” In Moore, Anthropocene or Capitalocene? 93–95. Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. New York: Vintage, 1992. Morton, Timothy. Being Ecological. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018. Morton, Timothy. Dark Ecol­ogy: For a Logic of ­Future Coexistence. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. Morton, Timothy. The Ecological Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010. Morton, Timothy. Ecol­ogy without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007. Morton, Timothy. “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Term Anthropocene.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 1, no. 2 (2014): 257–264.



Morton, Timothy. Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman ­People. London: Verso, 2017. Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecol­ogy a­ fter the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. Morton, Timothy. “This Is Not My Beautiful Biosphere.” In A Cultural History of Climate Change, edited by Tom Bristow and Thomas H. Ford, 229–238. New York: Routledge, 2016. Mountain Collective. “Intro.” Mountain Collective. Accessed January 17, 2019. https://­mountain​ collective​.c­ om. Mountz, Alison, Anne Bonds, Becky Mansfield, Jenna Loyd, Jennifer Hyndman, Margaret Walton-­Roberts, Ranu Basu et al., “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Re­sis­tance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.” ACME: An International E-­Journal for Critical Geographies 14, no. 4 (2015): 1253–1259. Munif, Abdul Rahman. Cities of Salt. New York: Penguin, 1984. Muscente, Anthony Drew, Anirudh Prabhu, Hao Zhong, Ahmed Eleish, Michael  B. Meyer, Peter Fox, Robert  M. Hazen, and Andrew  H. Knoll. “Quantifying Ecological Impacts of Mass Extinctions with Network Analy­sis of Fossil Communities.” PNAS (April  2018). https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.1719976115. Myers, Peter C. Frederick Douglass: Race and the Rebirth of American Liberalism. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008. Nagaoka, Lisa, Torben Rick, and Steve Wolverton. “The Overkill Model and Its Impact on Environmental Research.” Ecol­ogy and Evolution (September  2018). https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1002​ /­ece3.4393. “National Parks [sic] Ser­vice ‘Goes Rogue’ in Response to Trump Twitter Ban.” The Guardian. January 25, 2017. https://­www​.­theguardian​.­com​/­technology​/­news​-­blog​/­2017​/­jan​/­25​/­national​ -­parks​-s­ ervice​-g­ oes​-­rogue​-­in​-­response​-­to​-­trump​-­twitter​-­ban. Nayar, Pramod K. Posthumanism. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014. Newell, Margaret Ellen. Brethren by Nature: New ­England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015. Nixon, Rob. Slow Vio­lence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011. Nogués-­Bravo, David, Jesús Rodríguez, Joaquín Hortal, Persaram Batra, and Miguel B Araújo. “Climate Change, H ­ umans, and the Extinction of the Woolly Mammoth.” PLoS One (April 2008). https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1371/journal.pbio.0060079. O’Dair, Sharon. “Consuming Debt.” In Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination, edited by Vin Nardizzi and Tiffany Jo Werth, 164–180. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019. O’Dair, Sharon. “Growing Pains.” Early Modern Culture 13, article 7 (2018). https://­tigerprints​ .­clemson​.e­ du​/­emc​/­vol13​/­iss1​/­7. O’Dair, Sharon. “Slow Shakespeare: An Eco-­Critique of ‘Method’ in Early Modern Literary Studies.” In Early Modern Eco-­Studies: From the Florentine Codex to Shakespeare, edited by Thomas Hallock, Ivo Kamps, and Karen L. Raber, 11–30. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. O’Dair, Sharon. “The State of the Green: A Review Essay on Shakespearean Ecocriticism.” Shakespeare 4, no. 4 (December 2008): 474–492. Ode to Muir. Directed by Jeremy Jones. 2018. Wilson: Teton Gravity Research. Film. Official Guide: New York World’s Fair 1964–65. New York: Time, Inc., 1964. Oppermann, Serpil. “Material Ecocriticism and the Creativity of Storied ­Matter.” Frame 26, no. 2 (November 2013): 55–69. Ortiz-­Robles, Mario. Lit­er­a­ture and Animal Studies. New York: Routledge, 2016. Ott, Cindy. “A Visual Critique of Ken Burns’s The National Parks: Amer­i­ca’s Best Idea.” Public Historian 33, no. 2 (2011): 30–36.

Bibliography 269 Outka, Paul. Race and Nature from Transcendentalism to the Harlem Re­nais­sance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Oxfam. “Extreme Carbon In­equality.” December 2015. Accessed September 25, 2018. https://­ d1tn3vj7xz9fdh​ .­c loudfront​ .­n et​ /­s 3fs​ -­p ublic​ /­f ile​ _­attachments​ /­m b​ -­e xtreme​ -­c arbon​ -­inequality​-­021215​-­en​.­pdf. Page, Abigail  E., Sylvain Viguier, Mark Dyble, Daniel Smith, Nikhil Chaudhary, Gul Deniz Salali, James Thompson, Lucio Vinicius, Ruth Mace, and Andrea Bamberg Migliano. “Reproductive Trade-­offs in Extant Hunter-­Gatherers Suggest Adaptive Mechanism for the Neolithic Expansion.” PNAS 113, no. 17 (April 2016): 4694–4699. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/ pnas.1524031113. Pancake, Ann. Strange as This Weather Has Been. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2007. Parker, Dorothy R. Singing an Indian Song: A Biography of D’Arcy McNickle. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992. Parker, Julia Dawn, and Maureen H. McDonough. “Environmentalism of African Americans: An Analy­sis of the Subculture and Barriers Theories.” Environment and Be­hav­ior 31, no.  2 (1999): 155–177. Parker, Kate, and Courtney Weiss Smith, ed. Eighteenth-­Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel Debate. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2014. Paull, Rachel K., and Richard A. Paull. “Shallow Marine Sedimentary Facies in the Earliest Triassic (Griesbachian) Cordilleran Miogeocline, U.S.A.” Sedimentary Geology 93, no.  3–4 (November 1994): 181–191. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1016/0037-0738(94)90004-3. Pease, Donald. “Amer­i­ca.” In Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment, edited by Imre Szeman, Jennifer Wenzel, and Patricia Yaeger, 31–34. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. Penniman, Leah. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2018. Phillipon, Dan. Conserving Words: How American Nature Writers ­Shaped the Environmental Movement. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005. Plumwood, Val. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. London: Routledge, 1993. Poletti, Frank, and Jay Oglivy. “The Emergence of a Sustainable ­Future: Brainstorming Better Ways to Globalize at the Esalen Institute.” World ­Futures 59, no. 8 (2003): 615–623. Poniewozik, James. “TV Weekend: Ken Burns’ National Parks.” Time, September  25, 2009, 36–37. http://­entertainment​.­time​.­com​/­2009​/­09​/­25​/­tv​-­weekend​-­ken​-­burns​-n­ ational​-­parks​ /­#more​-6­ 385. Posthumus, Stephanie. French Ecocritique: Reading Con­temporary French Theory and Fiction Ecologically. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017. Postone, Moishe. Time, L ­ abor, and Social Domination. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Protect Our Winters, LLC. “About Us—­POW: POW.” Protect Our Winters. Accessed January 16, 2019. https://­protectourwinters​.­org​/­about​-­us​/­. Proulx, Annie. Barkskins. New York: Scribner, 2016. “Public Land Is Native Land.” Indigenous Geotags. Accessed October  20, 2018. https://­www​ .­indigenousgeotags​.­com​/­. Pynchon, Thomas. Against the Day. New York: Penguin, 2006. Pynchon, Thomas. “On Oakley Hall’s Warlock (1965).” In “A Dif­fer­ent Stripe: Notes from NYRB Classics.” Holiday, December 1965. http://­nyrbclassics​.­tumblr​.c­ om​/­post​/­69902584561​ /­thomas​-­pynchon​-­on​-o­ akley​-­halls​-­warlock​-­1965. Pynchon, Thomas. Introduction. Richard Fariña, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, v–­xiv. New York: Penguin, 1966. Pynchon, Thomas. Vineland. New York: Penguin, 1997.



Rackham, Oliver. The History of the Countryside: The Classic History of E ­ ngland’s Landscape, Flora and Fauna. London: Phoenix Press, 1986. Raworth, Kate. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-­Century Economist. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2017. Ray, Sarah Jaquette. The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2013. Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing W ­ ater. New York: Penguin, 1986. Reséndez, Andrés. The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in Amer­ic­a. New York: Mari­ner Books, 2016. Rey, Jo Anne. “Country Tracking Voices: Dharug ­Women’s Perspectives on Presences, Places and Practices.” PhD diss., Macquarie University, 2018. Reynolds, Henry. Frontier. North Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1987. Roberts, Patrick, Chris Hunt, Manuel Arroyo-­Kalin, Damian Evans, and Nicole Boivin. “The Deep ­Human Prehistory of Global Tropical Forests and Its Relevance for Modern Conservation.” Nature Plants 3, no. 17093 (August 2017): 1–9. https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1038/nplants.2017.93. Robertson, Francis. Print Culture: From Steam Press to Ebook. New York: Routledge, 2013. “Rocket Thrower.” NYC Parks: Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. City of New York. Accessed March  20, 2018. www​.­nycgovparks​.­org​/p­ arks​ /­flushing​-m ­ eadows​-­corona​-­park​/­monuments​/­1363. Rodland, David L., and David J. Bottjer. “Biotic Recovery from the End-­Permian Mass Extinction: Be­hav­ior of the Inarticulate Brachiopod Lingula as a Disaster Taxon.” PALAIOS 16, no. 1 (February 2001): 95–101. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.2307/3515554. Rodriguez, Erika. “The ­Great Resignation Has Employers Sweating: It’s Time to Escalate the Pressure.” The Guardian, November 1, 2021. https://­www​.­theguardian​.c­ om​/­commentisfree​ /­2021​/n­ ov​/0­ 1​/­great​-­resignation​-e­ mployers​-s­ weating​-­time​-­to​-­escalate​-­pressure. Roffet-­Salque, Mélanie, Arkadiusz Marciniak, Paul J. Valdes, Kamilla Pawłowska, Joanna Pyzel, Lech Czerniak, Marta Krüger, C. Neil Roberts, Sharmini Pitter, and Richard P. Evershed. “Evidence for the Impact of the 8.2-­kyBP Climate Event on Near Eastern Early Farmers.” PNAS 115, no. 35 (August 2018): 8705–8709. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.1803607115. Rood, Daniel B. “An International Harvest: The Second Slavery, the Virginia-­Brazil Connection, and the Development of the McCormick Reaper.” In Beckert and Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism, 87–104. Rosenthal, Caitlin, “Slavery’s Scientific Management: Masters and Man­ag­ers.” In Beckert and Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism, 62–86. Roston, Tom. “Ken Burns on ‘The Ken Burns Effect’ (and the 8 Effects He Actually Uses.” POV’s Documentary Blog. Archive POV​.­Org. Accessed September  4, 2018. http://­www​.­pbs​.­org​ /­pov​/­blog​/­docsoup​/­2014​/­0 9​/­ken​-­burns​-­on​-­the​-­ken​-­burns​-­effect​-­and​-­the​-­8​-­effects​-­he​ -­actually​-u­ ses​/­. Rothman, Daniel H. “Thresholds of Catastrophe in the Earth System.” Science Advances 3, no. 9 (September 2017). https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1126/sciadv.1700906. Ruddiman, William F. “The Anthropogenic Green­house Era Began Thousands of Years Ago.” Climatic Change 61 (2003): 261–293. https://­link​.­springer​.c­ om​/­article​/­10​.­1023/B:CLIM​ .00000045​77.17928.fa. Ruddiman, William F. “The Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis: Challenges and Responses.” Reviews of Geophysics 45, no. RG4001 (October 2007): 1–37. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1029​/2006​RG000207. Ruddiman, William F. “Three Flaws in Defining a Formal ‘Anthropocene.’ ” Pro­gress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment 42, no. 4 ( July 13, 2018): 451–461. https://­doi​.­org​/1­ 0.1177​ /0309133318783142. Rull, Valenti. “What If the ‘Anthropocene’ Is Not Formalized as a New Geological Series/ Epoch?” Quaternary 1, no. 24 (October 2018): 1–7. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.3390/quat1030024.

Bibliography 271 Runyon, Kirby D., S. A. Stern, T. R. Lauer, W. Grundy, M. E. Summers, and K. N. Singer. “A Geophysical Planet Definition.” Lunar and Planetary Science 48 (February  2017): 1448. https://­www​.­hou​.­usra​.­edu​/­meetings​/­lpsc2017​/­pdf​/­1448​.­pdf. Russell, Gillian. “The Army, the Navy, and the Napoleonic Wars.” In Johnson and Tuite, Companion to Jane Austen, 261–271. Rustick, Susan M. “Held Hostage by the Anthropocene.” In Tønnessen, Armstrong Oma, and Rattasepp, Thinking about Animals, 3–18. Sager, Lutz. “Income In­equality and Carbon Consumption: Evidence from Environmental Engel Curves.” Grantham Research Institute Working Paper 285 & CCCEP Working Paper 319, November  2017. http://­www​.­lse​.­ac​.­uk​/­GranthamInstitute​/­wp​-c­ ontent​/­uploads​/­2017​ /­11​/­Working​-P ­ aper​-­285​-­Sager​.­pdf. Samuel, Lawrence R. The End of the Innocence: The 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007. Scheiber, Noami. “High-­Skilled White-­Collar Work? Machines Can Do That, Too.” New York Times, July 7, 2018. https://­www​.­nytimes​.­com​/­2018​/­07​/­07​/­business​/­economy​/­algorithm​ -­fashion​-­jobs​.­html. Schmidgen, Wolfram. “Undividing the Subject of Literary History: From James Thomson’s Poetry to Daniel Defoe’s Novels.” In Eighteenth-­Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel Debate, edited by Kate Parker and Courtney Weiss Smith, 87–104. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2014. Schmidt, Klaus. “Göbekli Tepe—­The Stone Age Sanctuaries: New Results of Ongoing Excavations with a Special Focus on Sculptures and High Reliefs.” Documenta Praehistorica 37 (2010): 239–256. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.4312/dp.37.21. Schoenemann, P. Thomas. “Evolution of the Size and Functional Areas of the ­Human Brain.” Annual Review of Anthropology 35 (September  2006): 379–406. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1146​ /­annurev.anthro.35.081705.123210. Schor, Juliet B. The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure. New York: Basic Books, 1991. Scott, James C. Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017. Sebeok, Thomas  A. “Biosemiotics: Its Roots, Proliferation, and Prospects.” Semiotica 134 (2001): 61–78. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1007/978-1-4020-9650-1_6. “Secretary Haaland Creates New Missing & Murdered Unit to Pursue Justice for Missing or Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.” DOI News. U.S. Department of the Interior. April 1, 2021. https://­www​.­doi​.­gov​/­news​/­secretary​-­haaland​-c­ reates​-­new​-­missing​-m ­ urdered​ -­unit​-­pursue​-­justice​-­missing​-­or​-m ­ urdered​-­american. Seilacher, Adolf, and Friedrich Pflüger. “From Biomats to Benthic Agriculture: A Biohistoric Revolution.” In Biostabilization of Sediments, edited by W. E. Krumbein, D. M. Peterson, and L. J. Stal, 97–105. Odenburg: Bibliotheks-­und Informationssystem der Carl von Ossietzky Universität, 1994. Selden, Thomas  M., and Terceira  A. Berdahl. “COVID-19 and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Risk, Employment, and House­hold Composition.” Health Affairs, July 14, 2020. Preprint edition. https://­www​.­healthaffairs​.­org​/­doi​/­10​.­1377​/­hlthaff​.2­ 020​.0­ 0897. Seward, William. “The Promise of Alaska.” Public address, Sitka, Alaska Territory, August 12, 1869. Seymour, Nicole. Bad Environmentalism: Irony and Irreverence in the Ecological Age. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018. Shen, Bing, Lin Dong, Shuhai Xiao, and Michał Kowalewski. “The Avalon Explosion: Evolution of Ediacara Morphospace.” Science 319, no.  5859 ( January  2008): 81–84. https://­doi​.­org​ /­10.1126/science.1150279. Shepard, Paul. The Other: How Animals Made Us ­Human. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1996.



Shimelmitz, Ron, Steven L. Kuhn, Arthur J. Jelinek, Avraham Ronen, Amy E. Clark, and Mina Weinstein-­Evron. “ ‘Fire at W ­ ill’: The Emergence of Habitual Fire Use 350,000 Years Ago.” Journal of ­Human Evolution 77 (December  2014): 196–203. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1016/j​ .­jhevol.2014.07.005. Shukaitis, Stevphen. “Work 2.” In Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment, edited by Imre Szeman, Jennifer Wenzel, and Patricia Yaeger, 383–386. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Re­sis­tance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017. Sinclair, Upton. Oil! New York: Penguin, 1927. Sloterdijk, Peter. You Must Change Your Life. Translated by Wieland Hoban. Malden, MA: Polity, 2013. Smil, Vaclav. “Global Population: Milestones, Hopes, and Concerns.” Medicine & Global Survival 5, no. 2 (October 1998): 105–108. Smith, Kimberly K. Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003. Sopher, Philip. “Where the Five-­Day Workweek Came From.” The Atlantic, August  21, 2014. https://­www​.­theatlantic​.­com​/­business​/­archive​/­2014​/­08​/­where​-­the​-­five​-­day​-­workweek​ -­came​-­from​/­378870​/­. Sorry to Bother You. Directed by Boots Riley. Significant Productions; MNM Creative; MACRO; Cinereach; The Space Program, 2018. DVD. Spongberg, Mary. “Jane Austen, the 1790s, and the French Revolution.” In Johnson and Tuite, Companion to Jane Austen, 272–281. Steadman, David W., Paul S. Martin, Ross D. E. MacPhee, A. J. T. Jull, H. Gregory McDonald, Charles A. Woods, Manuel Iturralde-­Vinent, and Gregory W. L. Hodgins. “Asynchronous Extinction of Late Quaternary Sloths on Continents and Islands.” PNAS 102, no. 33 (2005): 11763–11768. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1073/pnas.0502777102. Steffen, ­Will, Jacques Grinevald, Paul Crutzen, and John McNeill. “The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369 (2011): 842–867. https://­royalsocietypublishing​.­org​/­doi​/­full​/­10​.­1098/ rsta.2010.0327. Stengers, Isabelle. Cosmopolitics. Translated by Robert Bononno. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010. Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy. “Working Group on the ‘Anthropocene.’ ” Accessed September 27, 2018. http://­quaternary​.­stratigraphy​.­org​/­working​-g­ roups​/­’Anthropocene’​/­. Suzman, James. Affluence without Abundance: What We Can Learn from the World’s Most Successful Civilization. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. Suzman, James. Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots. New York: Penguin Press, 2021. Sweet, Stephen, and Peter Meiksins. Changing Contours of Work: Jobs and Opportunities in the New Economy, 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Sage, 2013. Sze, Julie. Noxious New York. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006. Taylor, Charles. Modern Social Imaginaries. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004. Taylor, Jesse Oak. “Globalize.” In Veer Ecol­ogy: A Companion for Environmental Thinking, edited by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Lowell Duckert, 30–43. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017. Taylor, Patricia A., Burke D. Grandjean, and James H. Gramann. “National Park Ser­vice Comprehensive Survey of the American Public, 2008–9: Racial and Ethnic Diversity of National Park System Visitors and Non-­Visitors.” Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2011. Accessed August 16, 2017. https://­www​.­nature​.­nps​.­gov​/­socialscience​/­docs​/­CompSurvey​ 2008​_­2009RaceEthnicity​.­pdf.

Bibliography 273 “Tell Us What You Are ­Doing to Reduce Your Green­house Gas Emissions.” The Guardian, February 26, 2019. https://­www​.­theguardian​.­com​/­environment​/­2019​/­feb​/­26​/­tell​-­us​-­what​-­you​ -­are​-­doing​-­to​-r­ educe​-­your​-­greenhouse​-g­ as​-­emissions. ­There ­Will Be Blood. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Paramount, Miramax, Ghoulardi, 2007. Film. Thomas, Anna. “Why Working Fewer Hours Would Make Us More Productive.” The Guardian, November  9, 2015. https://­www​.­theguardian​.­com​/­sustainable​-­business​/­2015​/­nov​/­09​/­fewer​ -­working​-­hours​-d­ octors​-­eu​-­negotiations. Thomlinson, Ralph. Demographic Prob­lems: Controversy over Population Control, 2nd ed. Encino, CA: Dickenson, 1975. Thompson, Derek. “Workism is Making Americans Miserable.” The Atlantic, February 24, 2019. https://­w ww​ .­t heatlantic​ .­c om​ /­i deas​ /­a rchive​ /­2 019​ /­0 2​ /­r eligion​ -­w orkism​ -­m aking​ -­americans​-m ­ iserable​/­583441​/­. Thompson, E. P. “Time, Work-­Discipline and Industrial Capitalism.” Past & Pre­sent 38 (1967): 56–97. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau. Edited by Brooks Atkinson. New York: Modern Library, 1992. Tirella, Joseph. Tomorrow-­Land: The 1964–65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of Amer­ic­ a. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2014. Toadvine, Ted. “The End of All ­Things: Geomateriality and Deep Time.” Investigaciones Fenomenológicas vol. Monográfico 7 (2018): 367–390. Tønnessen, Morten, and Kristin Armstrong Oma. “Introduction: Once upon a Time in the Anthropocene.” In Tønnessen, Armstrong Oma, and Rattasepp, Thinking about Animals, vii–­xix. Tønnessen, Morten, Kristin Armstrong Oma, and Silver Rattasepp, eds. Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016. Traven, B. Rebellion of the Hanged. London: Allison and Busby, 1952. Traven, B. Trozas. Trans. Hugh Young. London: Allison and Busby, 1977. Treuer, David. “Return the National Parks to the Tribes.” The Atlantic, April 12, 2021. https://­ www​.­theatlantic​.­com​/­magazine​/­archive​/­2021​/­05​/­return​-­the​-­national​-­parks​-­to​-­the​-­tribes​ /­618395​/.­ UNESCO. “Ancient Jericho: Tell es-­Sultan.” Accessed September 26, 2018. https://­whc​.­unesco​ .­org​/­en​/­tentativelists​/­6545​/­. United Nations. “The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015.” Accessed July 7, 2021. http://­ www​.­u n​ .­o rg​ /­m illenniumgoals​ /­2 015​ _­M DG​ _­R eport​ /­p df​ /­M DG%202015%20rev%20 ( July%201)​.­pdf. United Nations Treaty Collection. Paris Agreement. July  2016. https://­treaties​.­un​.­org​/­doc​ /­Treaties​/­2016​/­02​/­20160215%2006​-­03%20PM​/­Ch​_­XXVII​-­7​-­d​.­pdf. United States Geological Survey. “Developing the Theory.” This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics (online edition). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2016. https://­pubs​.u­ sgs​.­gov​/­gip​/­dynamic​/­dynamic​.­html. Van der Kaars, Sander, Gifford H. Miller, Chris S. M. Turney, Ellyn J. Cook, Dirk Nürnberg, Joachim Schönfeld, A. Peter Kershaw, and Scott J. Lehman. “­Humans Rather Than Climate the Primary Cause of Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinction in Australia.” Nature Communications 8, article no. 14142 ( January 2017). https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1038/ncomms14142. Van de Velde, Sebastiaan, Benjamin J. W. Mills, Filip J. R. Meysman, Timothy M. Lenton, and Simon  W. Poulton. “Early Palaeozoic Ocean Anoxia and Global Warming Driven by the Evolution of Shallow Burrowing.” Nature Communications 9, no. 2554 ( July 2018). https://­ doi​.­org​/­10.1038/s41467-018-04973-4. Vavrus, Stephen J., Feng He, John E. Kutzbach, William F. Ruddiman, and Polychronis C. Tzedakis. “Glacial Inception in Marine Isotope Stage 19: An Orbital Analog for a Natu­ral Holocene



Climate.” Scientific Reports 8, no.  10213 ( July  2018). https://­doi​.o­ rg​/­10.1038/s41598-018​ -28419-5. Velten, Hannah. Beastly London: A History of Animals in the City. London: Reaktion Books, 2013. “Vio­lence from Extractive Industry ‘Man Camps’ Endangers Indigenous W ­ omen and C ­ hildren.” First ­Peoples Worldwide. University of Colorado, Boulder. January 29, 2020. https://­www​ .­colorado​.­edu​ /­p rogram​ /­f pw​ /­2020​ /­0 1​ /­2 9​ /­v iolence​ -­e xtractive​ -­i ndustry​ -­man​ -­c amps​ -­endangers​-­indigenous​-­women​-­and​-­children. Walker, Mike, Sigfus Johnsen, Sune Olander Rasmussen, Trevor Popp, Jørgen-­Peder Steffensen, Phil Gibbard, Wim Hoek et al. “Formal Definition and Dating of the GSSP (Global Stratotype Section and Point) for the Base of the Holocene Using the Greenland NGRIP Ice Core, and Selected Auxiliary Rec­ords.” Journal of Quaternary Science 24, no.  1 (October 2008): 3–17. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1002/jqs.1227. Wallace, Anne D. “Inhabited Solitudes: Dorothy Words­worth’s Domesticating Walkers.” N ­ ordlit: Arbeidstidsskrift i litteratur 1 (Spring 1997): 99–126. Wallace, Anne D. Walking, Lit­er­a­ture, and En­glish Culture: The Origins and Uses of Peripatetic in the Nineteenth C ­ entury. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983. WALL-­E. Directed by Andrew Stanton. Disney/Pixar, 2008. DVD. Warren, James Perrin. John Burroughs and the Place of Nature. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006. ­Waters, Colin N., Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Clément Poirier, Agnieszka Gałuszka, Alejandro Cearreta et  al. “The ‘Anthropocene’ Is Functionally and Stratigraphically Distinct from the Holocene.” Science 351, no. 6259 ( January 2016). https://­ doi​.­org​/­10.1126/science.aad2622. Weeks, Kathi. The Prob­lem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011. Wenzel, Jennifer. Introduction. Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment, edited by Imre Szeman, Jennifer Wenzel, and Patricia Yaeger, 1–16. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. Westbroek, Peter. Life as a Geological Force: Dynamics of the Earth. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992. Wheeler, Michael. “Martin Heidegger.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward  N. Zalta, Winter 2018. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 2018. https://­plato​.s­ tanford​.­edu​/­archives​/­win2018​/­entries​/­heidegger​/­. Wheeler, Wendy. The Whole Creature: Complexity, Biosemiotics and the Evolution of Culture. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2006. White, Richard. “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?’ Work and Nature.” In Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the ­Human Place in Nature, edited by William Cronon, 171–185. New York: Norton, 1995. Widerquist, Karl. “Brazil: Basic Income in Quatinga Velho Celebrates 3 Years of Operation.” BIEN: Basic Income Earth Network, June  7, 2012. https://­basicincome​.­org​/­news​/­2012​/­06​ /­brazil​-­basic​-­income​-­in​-­quatinga​-­velho​-­celebrates​-­3​-y­ ears​-­of​-o­ peration​/­. Williams, Raymond. The Long Revolution. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press Encore Editions, unrevised reprint of London: Chatto & Windus, 1961. Williams, Terry Tempest. The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of Amer­i­ca’s National Parks. New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2016. Willner, Sven N., Anders Levermann, Fang Zhao, and Katja Frieler. “Adaptation Required to Preserve ­Future High-­End River Flood Risk at Pre­sent Levels.” Science Advances 4, no.  1 ( January 2018): eaao1914. https://­doi​.­org​/­10.1126/sciadv.aao1914. Wolfe, Cary. “­Human, All Too ­Human: ‘Animal Studies’ and the Humanities.” PMLA 124, no. 2 (2009): 564–575. Wolfe, Cary. What Is Posthumanism? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

Bibliography 275 Woods, Derek. “Accelerated Reading: Fossil Fuels, Infowhelm, and Archival Life.” In Menely and Taylor, Anthropocene Reading, 202–219. Woof, Pamela. Introduction. Dorothy Words­worth, The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals, ix–­x xi. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002. Words­worth, Dorothy. The Grasmere Journal. In The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002. Words­worth, Dorothy. The Letters of William and Dorothy Words­worth: The Early Years: 1787– 1805. Edited by Ernest De Selincourt and Chester L. Shaver. 2nd ed., vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967. World Health Organ­ization. “Health and Environment Ministers Pledge Climate Actions to Reduce 12.6 Million Environment-­related Deaths.” November  2016. http://­www​.­who​.­int​ /­globalchange​/­mediacentre​/­news​/­ministers​-­pledge​-c­ limate​-­actions​/­en​/­. Wrangham, Richard. Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us H ­ uman. New York: Basic Books 2009. Wright, Edgar, ed. Mary Barton. By Elizabeth Gaskell. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wright, Sarah. “More-­Than-­Human, Emergent Belongings.” Pro­gress in H ­ uman Geography 39, no. 4 (2015): 391–411. Yusoff, Kathyrn. A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018. Zalasiewicz, Jan, Colin N. ­Waters, Mark Williams, Anthony D. Barnosky, Alejandro Cearreta, Paul Crutzen, Erle Ellis et al. “When Did the Anthropocene Begin? A Mid-­Twentieth-­Century Boundary Level Is Stratigraphically Optimal.” Quaternary International 383 (2015): 196–203.


a manda ada ms is an associate professor of En­glish at Muskingum University in

New Concord, Ohio. She specializes in nineteenth-­century British and American lit­er­a­ture, with a focus on the transatlantic and on the embodied author. She is the author of Performing Authorship in the Nineteenth-­Century Transatlantic Lecture Tour and several articles. She is currently at work on a proj­ect about nineteenth-­ century ­women writer-­walkers. sinan akilli is an associate professor in the Department of En­glish Language

and Lit­er­a­ture, vice-­dean of the Faculty of Humanities, and director of the School of Gradu­ate Studies and Research at Cappadocia University, Turkey. With Serpil Oppermann and Steven Hartman, he serves as coeditor of Ecocene: Cappadocia Journal of Environmental Humanities. He also edits the series in Environmental Humanities by Cappadocia University Press. Most recently, he has contributed to the edited volume Equestrian Cultures: Horses, ­Human Society and the Discourse of Modernity, and coedited, with Serpil Oppermann, Turkish Ecocriticism: From Neolithic to Con­temporary Timescapes. ja mes armstrong is the author of Monument in a Summer Hat and Blue Lash, and coauthor of Nature, Culture and Two Friends Talking. He teaches En­glish at Winona State University in Minnesota, where he specializes in twentieth-­century poetry and poetics, environmental lit­er­a­ture, and film. He is currently working on a critical study of the poet William Stafford’s relationship to American pragmatism and prewar modernism. daniel cl ausen is a visiting assistant professor of En­glish at Transylvania Uni-

versity in Lexington, Kentucky, where he teaches courses on writing and American lit­er­a­ture. His research focuses on the interactions of lit­er­a­ture, race and gender, and ­labor. He is the editor of a special issue of Western American Lit­er­at­ ure on climate fiction, and his essays have been published in The New Territory and Full Stop Quarterly. His book proj­ect “Liberation farming: narratives of farm ­labor, environment, and race in the nineteenth ­century” is in pro­gress. ­w ill elliott is a visiting assistant professor of writing at Alaska Pacific Univer-

sity in Anchorage, and formerly a term assistant professor of En­glish at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, where his work in the humanities spanned writing, lit­er­a­ture, and outdoor studies. ted geier teaches courses on ecostudies, animals, ethics, social justice, lit­er­a­ture,

and film at several California universities, including California State University, Chico; University of California, Davis; and Sacramento State University. His publications



Notes on Contributors

include two books, Meat Markets: The Cultural History of Bloody London and Kafka’s Nonhuman Form; a special edited journal issue on Terrence Malick’s ecocinema; and vari­ous chapters and articles. He has previously taught at Rice University; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, San José; and San Francisco State University. He was Managing Editor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Lit­er­a­ture and Environment 2020–21 before becoming a full-­time Research Editor and Coordinator for the Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program research initiative on live animal markets and zoonotic disease in 2021. ryan hediger , a professor of En­glish at Kent State University in Ohio, special-

izes in the environmental humanities, animal studies, and U.S. lit­er­a­ture. He is the author of Homesickness: Of Trauma and the Longing for Place in a Changing Environment, editor of Animals and War, and coeditor of Animals and Agency. He is writing a monograph on ­labor norms and settler colonialism. jennifer  k. l adino is a professor of En­glish and core faculty in environmental

science at the University of Idaho in Moscow, as well as cofounder and codirector of the Confluence Lab. She is the author of Memorials M ­ atter: Emotion, Environment, and Public Memory at American Historical Sites and Reclaiming Nostalgia: Longing for Nature in American Lit­er­a­ture, and the coeditor of Affective Ecocriticism: Emotion, Embodiment, Environment. Her research and teaching focus on climate change fiction, affect studies, and American lit­er­a­ture. She worked as a park ranger in G ­ rand Teton National Park for thirteen summers. kevin maier is a professor of En­glish at the University of Alaska Southeast in

Juneau, where he coordinates the Environmental Studies Program and teaches classes on writing, American lit­er­a­ture, and the environmental humanities. His current research explores the intersections of climate politics and outdoor recreation. He is the editor of Teaching Hemingway and the Natu­ral World and, with Sarah Jaquette Ray, Critical Norths: Space, Nature, Theory. When not in the classroom or ­behind a screen, he spends his time trying to keep up with his two boys in the mountains, forests, and w ­ aters surrounding his home, which sits on the land of the Áak’w Kwáan of the Tlingit. sharon ­o ’dair is a professor emerita of En­glish at the University of Alabama in

Tuscaloosa. She coedited The Production of En­glish Re­nais­sance Culture, authored Class, Critics, and Shakespeare: Bottom Lines on the Culture Wars, edited “Shakespeareans in the Tempest: Lives and Afterlives of Katrina,” a special issue of Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation, and coedited Shakespeare and the 99%: Literary Studies, the Profession, and the Production of Inequity. In addition, she has published sixty essays on Shakespeare, literary theory, critical methodology, and the profession of En­glish studies. jo anne rey is a Dharug community member. In 2019 she completed her doctoral

thesis: “Country Tracking Voices: Dharug W ­ omen’s Perspectives on Presences,

Notes on Contributors 279

Places, and Practices” at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Based on her research, in 2018 she was invited to develop a first-­year undergraduate unit within the Macquarie University Department of Indigenous Studies. This local Aboriginal community focus was a first in Australia. In 2020, she became a research fellow with Macquarie University’s Indigenous studies and geography departments, weaving postdoctoral Dharug research across three Dharug sites. Her journey walks with Dharug community, her Ancestors, and weaving across Dharug Ngurra. david l. rodl and is an associate professor of geology at Muskingum University

in New Concord, Ohio, where he teaches classes in environmental geology, Earth history, geohazards, oceanography, paleontology, sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He has published articles on the ecol­ogy and environmental conditions during the biotic recovery from the end-­Permian mass extinction, paleotemperature rec­ ords in marine invertebrate skele­tons, thermal behavioral response in mollusks, and the preservation of hard substrate fossil assemblages in the Holocene. He lives in the Anthropocene, ­whether he likes it or not. matt wanat is the coeditor of Breaking Down Breaking Bad and The Films of Clint Eastwood. A scholar of lit­er­a­ture and cinema studies, with interests in place-­ based sustainability and popu­lar genre, Wanat’s essays and poetry have appeared in Western American Lit­er­a­ture, Journal of the Midwest MLA, The Wayfarer, south, and several collections. He is an associate professor of En­glish at Ohio University Lancaster.


abolitionism, 72–73, 76, 123 Adorno, Theodor, 57–58, 59, 64 afforestation, 37 Against the Day (Pynchon), 151, 156–163 agriculture: Black traditions of, 119–121; extraction and, 150–151; ­family and, 151–152; pro­gress and, 152; rise of, 42–43; white supremacy and, 119–121. See also agrilogistics; racism; slavery agrilogistics, 31n87, 114, 123 Alaimo, Stacy, 178 alcohol, 41–42 Alt-­National Park Ser­vice (Alt-­NPS), 197–198 Amato, Joseph A., 170 Anderson, Deland, 214–215 animals. See Anthropocene: animals and; eels; Goanna lizards; ­horses; ponies (Galloway) Anthropocene: animals and, 96–97, 98; Anthropocene Working Group, 41, 45; books and, 101; critiques of, 8–9, 28n24, 62–63, 204–205; definitions of, 1–3, 21–22, 35–37, 45, 97, 183n1; Early Anthropocene, 95–97, 108n2; embodiment and, 181–182; globalism and, 142–143; historiography and, 78; leisure and, 202–203, 218; objectification and, 57, 62–63; per­for­mance and, 51–52; skiing and, 202–218; slavery and, 73; walking and, 169–170 apocalypse, 51–52, 208 Arendt, Hannah, 125 “ ‘Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?’ Work and Nature” (White), 12–16, 205–206 Association for the Study of Lit­er­a­ture and Environment (ASLE), 242–243, 245 “At the Bottom of New Lake” (Larson), 240–241 Austen, Jane, 22, 104–106 Australian Aboriginal ­peoples, 220, 223, 224, 226. See also Dharug Baker, Gerard, 190 Baptist, Edward E., 75–76, 83–84 Barad, Karen, 102, 110n48, 227

Beasts of the Southern Wild (Zeitlin), 54–55 Bellbird, 227, 228, 231–232 Bennett, Jane, 25–26, 32n118, 32n124 Berry, Wendell, 151, 152–156 Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, A (Yusoff), 2, 20, 79, 115, 134–135, 144, 145, 175 biodiversity, 37 biomimicry, 222 biosemiotics, 22 Black Lives ­Matter, 71, 75 Blackmon, Douglas A., 85–87 “Blue Marble,” 142 Bonneuil, Christophe, 8, 182 Brontë, Emily, 106–7 Brown, Wendy, 10–12 Bullshit Jobs (Graeber), 7 Burns, Ken, 189–193 Burns effect, 189, 193–194 Burramatta, 230–231 Burroughs, John, 116–119 Bushytail, 229–231 capitalism: apocalypse and, 51–52; big data and, 89; disaster and, 55, 60; dominance and, 56; ­labor and, 6, 58; leisure and, 6; naturalization of, 64; re­sis­tance to, 64; sugar and, 78–79. See also work Capitalism and the Web of Life (Moore), 80–81 Capitalocene, 8, 9, 57, 157, 187–188 carbon emissions, 37–38, 40–41, 206, 213–214, 242–244, 246. See also carbon footprints carbon footprints, 241–243, 250n8. See also carbon emissions care, ethics of: belonging and, 232; community and, 154, 155; Country and, 226; listening and, 232; place and, 220–221; play and, 210; purpose and, 18, 20; yarning and, 223–224, 227. See also ethics chthulucene, 205 Chuntao, 240–241 Civil War, U.S., 87 Clark, William, 15




climate change: agriculture and, 126; Deep Anthropocene and, 45; fire and, 39; globalization and, 142–143; justice and, 235; leisure and, 203–204, 206; National Parks and, 195; necropolitics and, 89; poverty and, 241–242; risks of, 43; snow loss and, 212; ­women and, 182 coal, 40, 41, 85, 160, 164 Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, 243 colonialism: Dharug and, 221, 223; domestication and, 184n30; extraction and, 81–82; ­free ­labor and, 76; globes and, 134; National Park Ser­vice and, 191; necropolitics and, 89; owner­ship and, 123. See also settler colonialism Columbian Exchange, 2 Columbus, Christopher, 2, 79 commodification, 79–80, 118 Cook, Captain James, 225 Cook, Claire Kerhwald, 247–248 cooking, 38–39 cosmopolitics, 235 Cottenham, Green, 85 Cottinham, Scipio, 85, 86 COVID-19, 1, 75, 203, 244 craft, 243, 245–249 Crawford, J. L., 192–193 Creatures Collective, 229 Crow, 234 Crutzen, Paul J., 2, 37 Dark Ecol­ogy (Morton), 20 Davis, Lennard, 98–99 Davis, Mike, 2, 53–54 deep play, 19–20 degrowth, 16, 243–244, 246 De Lue, Donald, 141–142 democ­ratization, 245, 246 Dharug, 3, 24, 223–224, 233 Dharug Country, 223, 225–226, 233 Dharug Nura, 220, 224, 233–234, 236 dominance, 56, 61 Douglass, Frederick, 113–114, 115–116 Early Anthropocene, 95–97, 108n2 education and work, 7, 64 eels, 230–231 Effigy Mounds National Monument, 195–196 Elk v. Wilkins, 77 enclosure, 170–171

end-­Permian mass extinction, 36, 37 environmental humanities, 243–249 environmental justice, 54 equids. See ­horses eroticism, 162, 209 ethics, 229, 246. See also care, ethics of extinction, 39–40 extraction: agriculture and, 150–151; animals and, 115, 118; care versus, 20, 150; colonialism and, 81–82, 222; ­family and, 151–153, 158; globes and, 133–134; grammar of, 175; importance of, 79–80; lit­er­a­ture and, 96, 149–150; man camps and, 195; mining and, 81–82, 85, 157–159; National Parks and, 194–195. See also coal; fossil fuels; Yusoff, Kathryn ­family, 151–153 farming. See agriculture Fay, Jennifer, 4 Fielding, Henry, 98–99, 103–104 fire, 14, 38–39 First Fleet ships, 221, 225 Ford Motor Com­pany, 137 Fossil Capital (Malm), 8, 57, 86 fossil fuels, 12, 149–151, 164, 194–195, 205 Foster, John Bellamy, 4, 27n22 freedom, 11, 29n63, 74, 77 ­free l­ abor, 74–78, 82, 115, 123, 124. See also work ­Free Time (Hunnicutt), 5, 17–18, 87 Fressoz, Jean-­Baptist, 8, 182 Frew, Matt, 207 Futurama exhibit, 137–138 Galloway ponies, 106–107 Gammeraigal (Dharug), 220–221 Gaskell, Elizabeth, 180–181 General Motors, 137 genocide, 234 georgic writing, 116–117, 119, 125–126 Giddens, Anthony, 133–134 Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP). See golden spike globe, 133–134, 142–144 Goanna lizards, 221, 226, 227 Goanna walking, 24, 221–222, 226–228 Göbekli Tepe, 41–42 golden spike, 36, 44–45 Gore, Al, 242 gothic, 104–105

Grace, Patricia, 61 gradu­ate education, 245–246 Graeber, David, 7, 154–155 ­Grand Teton National Park, 186 Grasmere Journal (Dorothy Words­worth), 174–176 Green New Deal, 6–7, 242 Green Shakespeare, 243 Grusin, Richard, 20 Guillory, John, 245–246, 251–252n27 Haaland, Deb, 197 Hannah Colter (Berry), 151, 152–156 Haraway, Donna, 98, 205 hauntology, 208, 227 Heise, Ursula, 244 Hight, Elena, 211–212 Holocene, 42, 45 hooks, bell, 222 horses, 99–100, 102–103, 105–106, 108, 122 Hour of Land, The (Williams), 193–197 ­Human Condition, The (Arendt), 125 humanimal, 101 Humankind (Morton), 12, 20 ­human migrations, prehistorical, 39 Hunnicutt, Benjamin Kline, 5, 17–18, 87 Hunt, Lynn, 248–249 hunter-­gatherers, 5, 28n29, 42–43 Incon­ve­nient Truth, An (Gore), 242 Industrial Revolution, 40, 80, 95–96, 169–170, 180–182 in­equality, 41, 43, 250n6 Influx and Efflux (Bennett), 25–26, 32n118, 32n124 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 203–204 International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), 36, 45 intraaction, 102, 110n48 “It’s a Small World” (song), 139–140 Ivakhiv, Adrian, 189–190 “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (William Words­worth), 180 James, Jeremy, 99 Johnson, Shelton, 191 Jones, Jeremy, 210–214 Joseph Andrews (Fielding), 103–104 Joyce, James, 208

Index 283 Kingsnorth, Paul, 244 Kookaburra, 232–233 Kopple, Robert, 130 ­labor: academia and, 243–249; agriculture and, 120–121; animals and, 96; Anthropocene and, 8, 203–204; coal and, 41; definitions of, 21, 26n5, 124–125; emotional, 187, 199n4; leisure versus, 23–24, 30n65, 77, 126, 155, 171, 173, 174–176, 187–188, 209, 223; men and, 192; National Parks and, 186–193, 194; Richard White and, 12–16, 205–206; slow, 188, 193, 196, 198. See also work ­labor movement, 160, 163, 165n28 Lake District (­England), 171, 172–173, 176 Larson, Sonya, 240–241 Latour, Bruno, 133, 134, 136, 143–145 LeBeau, Albert, 196 Lee, Bilawarra, 225–226 leisure: Anthropocene and, 202–203; commerce and, 210; community and, 156; definitions of, 6, 16–17, 155; distinction from ­labor, 23–24, 30n65, 77, 126, 155, 171, 173, 174–176, 187–188, 209, 223; park rangers and, 187; technology and, 137–138, 207; skiing and, 202–218; stoke and, 206; value of, 16–20, 202–203, 205–218 Lewis, Meriwether, 15 lifeworkings, 222, 229, 231, 234 Linck, Evan, 206 Lincoln, Abraham, 76 Line by Line (Cook), 247–248 listening, 232 Lorde, Audre, 209 Malm, Andreas, 8, 57, 86 “Man,” 138–139, 182 Maria (Bolongaia), 228–229 Martineau, Harriet, 171, 172, 176, 177 Marx, Karl, 26n5, 78, 117, 124–125 Marxism, ecological, 4 Mary Barton (Gaskell), 180–181 Mbembe, Achille, 87–89 McGillivray, David, 207 McNickle, D’Arcy, 93n91 Menely, Tobias, 21, 97 micropolitics, 25 mining, 81–82, 85, 157–159. See also extraction Mintz, Sidney, 78–81 Mitchell, Audra, 225, 229



modernity, 131, 133, 144 Modern Language Association (MLA), 243, 245 Moore, Jason D., 4, 21, 27n22, 80–81, 157, 187–188 Morton, Timothy, 12, 20, 204–205 Moses, Robert, 130–131 Mountain Collective (ski pass), 206 Muir, John, 212–214 National Parks, The (Burns), 189–193 National Park Ser­vice, 186–199 Nayar, Pramod K., 101 Naylor, Valerie, 194–195 necropolitics, 87–89 neoliberalism, 9–12, 24–25, 244 Nishnaabeg, 26 nonhumans: as objects, 57; as slaves, 12. See also coal; eels; fire; Goanna walking; ­horses; ponies (Galloway); snow North Gulf Coast ­Waters (Anderson), 215–216 nostalgia, 189, 195 novel, 95–96, 100 nuclear weapons, 58 objectification, 57 Ode to Muir ( Jones), 211–213 Operation Plowshare, 4 Other Slavery, The (Reséndez), 72, 81–82, 84 Ott, Cindy, 190 Outka, Paul, 114–115, 126 Overworked American, The (Schor), 5, 6, 150–151 “Ozymandias” (Shelley), 63 parts per million (ppm), 40 patriotism, 188–189 pedagogy, 246–249 Petosí, 81 petrofiction, 149–150. See also fossil fuels Pixar, 53 pizza, 246–248 Planet of Slums (Davis), 2, 53–54 Plantationocene, 9, 78 play, 19–20, 32n108, 188, 205, 209, 213, 217–218 Plumwood, Val, 225 ponies (Galloway), 106–107 population growth, ­human, 42–43, 53–54 possum-­skin mapping, 231–232 posthumanism, 101, 224

postmodern fiction, 156–157 Postone, Moishe, 56 Potiki (Grace), 61 precarity, 24, 55, 59, 208–209 printing press, 100 private property, 121–124, 135 Prob­lem with Work (Weeks), 4 pro­gress, 58, 59, 137–138, 142–143, 152, 225 Protect Our Winters (POW), 210–218 puppets, 233 Pynchon, Thomas, 150, 151, 156–163, 246 queer theory, 19 Race and Nature from Transcendentalism to the Harlem Re­nais­sance (Outka), 114–115, 126 racism, 30n82, 54, 71, 82, 145–146 Rackham, Oliver, 177–178 rangers (National Park Ser­vice), 186–199 Reconstruction, 113–114 recreation, outdoor, 205, 207, 211. See also leisure reenchantment, 20 relationality, 221, 222, 223 Reséndez, Andrés, 72, 81–82, 84 resilience, 52, 54, 221, 232, 235 Richardson, Samuel, 98–99 Riley, Boots, 61–62 Ringtail, 228–229 “Rocket Thrower” (De Lue), 141–142 Rodriguez, David, 242–243 Samuel, Lawrence R., 131, 137, 139 Sandstone, 234 Schmidgen, Wolfram, 100 Schor, Juliet B., 5, 6, 150–151, 173 Scott, James C., 3, 5 sea-­level rise, 39 semantic humanimal, 102–103 semiosis, 101–102 semiosphere, 97 settler colonialism, 26n1, 76, 123, 128n41, 134, 191, 195, 197. See also colonialism Shakespeare Association of Amer­i­ca (SAA), 243, 245 Shelley, Percy, 63 Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake, 26 skiing: Anthropocene and, 202–218; backcountry, 207–209, 211–212; precarity and, 24, 208–209; value of, 206–218

slavery: abolition of, 72–73, 76, 123; animals and, 119, 121–123; cotton and, 83; freedom and, 77; incarceration and, 73; Indian, 72, 77, 82; logics of, 11–12; private property and, 121–124 Slavery by Another Name (Blackmon), 85–87 Slavery’s Capitalism (Beckert and Rockman), 75–76 Slow Shakespeare, 243 slow vio­lence, 12–14, 154, 192–193 snow, 206–209, 212 solidarity, 12 Sorry to Bother You (Riley), 61–62 space race, 141–142 sports, 56, 61–62, 202–203, 205–215 St. Bartholomew’s Church, at Prospect (western Sydney, Australia), 228–229 Stickers for Conservation, 214–215 Stoermer, Eugene F., 2, 37 storytelling (storying), 226. See also yarning stratigraphy, 36, 45 subscendence, 20 Suzman, James, 6 Swanson, J. Caity, 242–243 Sweetness and Power (Mintz), 78–81 Sydney, Australia. See Dharug Country Taylor, Jesse Oak, 21, 97 Tennessee Colored Agricultural and Mechanics Association, 115 Theodore Roo­se­velt National Park, 194–195 Thoreau, Henry David, 117 time, 16–17, 24, 174–175, 208–209, 222–223 Toadvine, Ted, 208 Transcontinental Railroad, 44 transplanting, 177–178 Tsing, Anna L., 9, 182 Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 248–249 uncivilizing, 244–245 Undoing the Demos (Brown), 10–12 Unisphere, 23, 129–130, 132, 135, 140, 141–142 Universal Basic Income, 7 U.S. Bill of Rights, 10 vagrancy, 30n82, 84–86 Vineland (Pynchon), 246 Wagtail, 230–231 walking, 169–171, 176–182

Index 285 Wallace, Anne D., 176, 178–179 WALL-­E, 53, 60, 61 Watt, James, 97 Weeks, Kathi, 4 Wheeler, Wendy, 101–102 Whistlejacket (horse), 106 White, Richard, 12–16, 205–206 white supremacy, 86, 119–121, 126 Williams, Terry Tempest, 193–197 Wind from An ­Enemy Sky (McNickle), 93n91 Wombat Dreaming, 230 ­women, 171–172, 173–177, 182, 224 Words­worth, Dorothy, 172, 174–176, 178–180 work: academia and, 243–249; agency and, 136; agriculture and, 42, 120–121, 150–154; Anthropocene and, 8, 64, 203–204; automobiles and, 137; Black traditions of, 120–121; carbon emissions and, 12, 242–244, 246; caring versus, 221; coal and, 41; colonialism and, 223; craft and, 243, 245–246; cultural caring and, 233–234; definitions of, 21, 26n5, 124–125; education and, 7, 153–154, 234; ethics and, 229; ­family and, 151–152; fossil fuels and, 12; ­labor versus, 5, 125; leisure versus, 23–24, 30n65, 77, 126, 155, 171, 173, 174–176, 187–188, 209, 223; men and, 192; naturalization of, 5, 60–61, 64, 75, 125; necropolitics and, 87–89; planet as, 141; quantification and, 225; relationality and, 221, 222, 223; Richard White and, 12–16, 205–206; skiing and, 210; slow vio­lence and, 12–14, 154, 192–193; technology and, 137–138; torture and, 82–84; vagrancy and, 84–86; vio­lence and, 125; walking and, 169–172; ­women and, 173–177, 233, 234; workaholism, 7, 225, 245–246, 249. See also ­labor Work (Suzman), 6 workism, 11, 75 worldmaking, 229, 236 World’s Fair (1964–65), 23, 129–131, 136–141 Wuthering Heights (Brontë), 106–107 Wynter, Sylvia, 138–139 yarning, 223–224, 227–232, 236 yarning-up, 228, 232–233 Yarramundi Kids (puppets), 233 Year at Ambleside, A (Martineau), 171, 172 Yellowstone National Park, 191 Yusoff, Kathryn, 2, 20, 79, 115, 134–135, 144, 145, 175