The nonhuman turn: Critical reflections on alienation, entanglement and nature under capitalism

Bram Büscher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article critically reflects on contemporary discussions of human-nonhuman relations and their consequences for ecological politics. Recent critiques push back against popular ‘nonhuman turn’ appeals to ‘decentre’ humans and downplay distinctions between humans and nonhumans. The article seeks to both extend and nuance these critiques by emphasising how uneven developments from colonial to digital platform capitalism have intensified historical processes of alienation between humans and the rest of nature. This focus contextualises the nonhuman turn as a response to increasingly alienated forms of entanglement, which may hamper rather than enable challenging contemporary forms of domination. To address this, two conceptual shifts are proposed. First, a shift away from ‘decentring the human’ to a dialectics between more-than-human and ‘less-than-human’. This move emphasises how forms of capitalist domination continue to diminish (certain) humans and nonhumans and how challenging this requires pivoting between de- and recentring humans where needed. Second, a shift from ‘more-than-human’ to ‘more-than-life’, to emphasise how through extremely uneven histories of capitalist development the intensification of alienation has led to growing tensions between ontological relationality and epistemological and practical distinctions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-73
JournalDialogues in Human Geography
Volume12
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • alienation
  • capitalism
  • intensification
  • nature
  • nonhuman turn

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