Radical Animism: Reading for the End of the World

Deer, Jemma | from Multimedia Library Collection:
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Radical Animism. Book cover.

Deer, Jemma. Radical Animism: Reading for the End of the World. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.

The reckoning of climate change calls for us to fundamentally rethink our notions of human centrality, superiority and power. Drawing on a wide range of modern writers and thinkers—from Freud and Darwin to Latour and Derrida, from Shakespeare and Carroll to Woolf and Kafka—Radical Animism develops a new theory of life for a planet in crisis. In this original and timely work, Jemma Deer reframes our thinking of the Anthropocene with ideas from anthropology, astronomy, deconstruction, evolutionary biology, psychoanalysis, quantum physics and veganism. Through readings that are both inventive and compelling, this book shows how “literary animism”—the active and transformative life of literature—can open our thinking to the immense power of the non-human world. (Source: Bloomsbury Academic)

Through readings of literature and philosophy, Jemma Deer’s work explores the ways in which the ecological and social crises of the Anthropocene—global warming, mass extinction, food and resource insecurity—are not only transforming the planet, but also transforming what it means to be human. Tracing the effects of the Copernican, Darwinian and Freudian paradigm shifts, this book elaborates a radical new animism for a planet in crisis, recognizing the nonhuman powers that assert themselves around us, in us, and through us. Historically, animism has been understood as a “primitive” belief system that ascribes life, soul, or spirit to the inanimate. In the face of anthropogenic climate change and its effects, animism takes on a new significance, describing the uncanny reality of a world in which the “environment” can no longer be thought of as a passive background, something at a material or philosophical distance from humankind. Radical Animism: Reading for the End of the World reads climate change as a blow to human narcissism that issues from the earth itself, ushering an increasingly urgent need to respond to phenomena resistant to an anthropocentric perspective, that defy human conceptions of agency, centrality, objectivity, and scale.

First published 2020 by Bloomsbury Academic. Reproduced here with permission from Bloomsbury Publishing.