Apocalypse and settler/colonial climate change

I’ve been thinking for a long time about the relationship between apocalyptic storytelling and the real apocalyptic experiences of life under settler colonial capitalism – my most recent article in Resilience: a Journal of the Environmental Humanities (and some early writing  here, here, and here).

My thinking is informed by the work of Kyle Whyte, Kristen Simmons, Bruno Seraphin, and, Gerald Horne’s vital The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism. My review of Horne’s book  appears here, but has since been picked up by Monthly Review, Portsideand Black Agenda Report.

These repostings of my review suggest, I think, the exigency of understanding current questions/framings of apocalypse and climate change within a historical political context. It is as this Anthropocene Haiku has it: “The climate changing / is colonialism / fulfilling its goals.” To which I add, extending Horne’s historical argument, apocalyptic climate change is colonialism fulfilling its goals AND continuing its means of production. By which I mean, the transapocalyptic nature of climate change signifies colonialism’s goal-ushering in the ends of worlds-but it is also the means, meaning apocalypse is also the historical and ongoing realities of life under settler capitalism which are always experiences of climate change, suffocation, a set of apocalyptic realities that stories of apocalypse too often work to whitewash.

That is to say, descriptions of climate change communicated though the tropes of apocalypse signal both the means and the end-logic of colonial capitalism. STILL, there are ways to think apocalyptically that do not bind us to the solitary and asphyxiating atmospherics of settler time-space. Try here, here, here,

*I conflate colonialism and settler colonialism, as I see settler colonialism as a structure of ongoing events built on elimination of the native: in its colonial origins as well as its dependence upon what Jodi Byrd calls the “transit” of indian-ness – a metaphorics vital to the apocalypses of colonialism-cum-settler-colonialism. In other words, colonialism and settler colonialism converge in the transit of “indian,” the elimination of Indigenous worlds as a means and ends, conditions of possibility and teleology.

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