Temporalities of Ecological Disaster
Oliver Feltham (American University of Paris)

July 8, 2024, 3:30pm - 5:00pm
PHI research group, Deakin University

Deakin Downtown, Level 12 Tower 2 Building, 727 Collins Street

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Deakin University

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The goal of this paper is to analyse the temporality of ecological disaster in so far as it is registered in the public and governmental imagination, in what passes, nowadays, for the public sphere. Ecological disaster is made up of four phenomena – pollution, climate change, resource depletion and mass extinction. For each of these phenomena we can find foundational texts that brought them into the public sphere, such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring or the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and each time their  temporal schemas is not only quite evident – we knew it all along, but pushed it into the background – but they also share key characteristics, to the point that we can generate an overall schema for ecological disaster. On the basis of David Hume’s theory of the passions – wherein our imagination is woven from a web of passions – we then examine the passions at stake in the temporality of ecological disaster, and how they determine dominate our capacities for action, depending on our position in that web of passions. 

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