Are We Living in the Racial Capitalocene?: Anthropocene Discourse, Racial Capitalism, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ "Between the World and Me"
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As global temperatures continue to increase, it becomes clear that we are living in an era of human-induced climate shift. This era has commonly been labelled the “Anthropocene” in both the sciences and the humanities, a name that invokes the “human” as the force of geological change. In my project, I investigate the question, “How does Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me problematize the conception of the ‘human’ in ‘Anthropocene’ narratives?” This “Anthropocene” discourse, I suggest, posits the “human” as a universal geological force, therein distorting our understandings of how capitalism and racism are linked in the history of “modernity” and precluding our ability to recognize differential responsibility for climate shift. Literature like Coates’ Between the World and Me, I suggest, can problematize these dominant, universalizing understandings through a simultaneous critical attunement to histories of domination and oppression and an artistic mediation of daily, lived experience of climate change.