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Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism

The Earth has reached a tipping point. Runaway climate change, the sixth great extinction of planetary life, the acidification of the oceans—all point toward an era of unprecedented turbulence in humanity’s relationship within the web of life. But just what is that relationship, and how do we make sense of this extraordinary transition?

Anthropocene or Capitalocene? offers answers to these questions from a dynamic group of leading critical scholars. They challenge the theory and history offered by the most significant environmental concept of our times: the Anthropocene. But are we living in the Anthropocene, literally the “Age of Man”? Is a different response more compelling, and better suited to the strange—and often terrifying—times in which we live? The contributors to this book diagnose the problems of Anthropocene thinking and propose an alternative: the global crises of the twenty-first century are rooted in the Capitalocene, the Age of Capital.

Anthropocene or Capitalocene? offers a series of provocative essays on nature and power, humanity, and capitalism. Including both well-established voices and younger scholars, the book challenges the conventional practice of dividing historical change and contemporary reality into “Nature” and “Society,” demonstrating the possibilities offered by a more nuanced and connective view of human environment-making, joined at every step with and within the biosphere. In distinct registers, the authors frame their discussions within a politics of hope that signal the possibilities for transcending capitalism, broadly understood as a “world-ecology” that joins nature, capital, and power as a historically evolving whole.

Contributors include Jason W. Moore, Eileen Crist, Donna J. Haraway, Justin McBrien, Elmar Altvater, Daniel Hartley, and Christian Parenti.


“We had best start thinking in revolutionary terms about the forces turning the world upside down if we are to put brakes on the madness. A good place to begin is this book, whose remarkable authors bring together history and theory, politics and ecology, economy and culture, to force a deep look at the origins of global transformation.”
—Richard Walker, professor emeritus of geography, UC Berkeley, and author of The Capitalist Imperative, The New Social Economy, The Conquest of Bread, and The Country in the City

“We live in the Capitalocene, the contributors to this volume argue, and the urgent, frightening and hopeful consequences of this reality-check become apparent in chapters that force the reader to think. In a time when there is generally no time or space to think . . . we need a book like this more than ever.”
—Bram Büscher, professor of sociology, Wageningen University, and author of Transforming the Frontier: Peace Parks and the Politics of Neoliberal Conservation in Southern Africa

“In this pioneering volume, leading critics call for a different conceptual framework, which places global change in a new, ecologically-oriented, history of capitalism—the Capitalocene. No scholar or activist interested in the debate about the Anthropocene will want to miss this volume.”
—Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, associate professor of history, University of Chicago, and author of Enlightenment’s Frontier: The Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism

“Jason W. Moore’s scope is vast, and few could pull off so ambitious an analytical achievement. . . . There’s enough scholarship, wit and insight . . . for a lifetime.”
—Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved and The Value of Nothing

“Jason W. Moore’s radical and rigorous work is, and richly deserves to be, agenda-setting.”
—China Miéville, author of The City & the City

About the Editor:

Jason W. Moore teaches world history and world-ecology at Binghamton University. He is author of Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital (Verso, 2015). His essays on world history, environmental history, and political economy have been honored with the Bernstein and Byres Prize in agrarian studies, and distinguished scholarship awards of the American Society for Environmental History and the Section on the Political Economy of the World-System (American Sociological Association). He is coordinator of the World-Ecology Network.

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