Anthropocene bodies, geological time and the crisis of natality

Clark, Nigel Halcomb (2017) Anthropocene bodies, geological time and the crisis of natality. Body and Society, 23 (3). pp. 156-180. ISSN 1357-034X

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In its explicit engagement with the possibility of human extinction, the Anthropocene thesis might be seen as signalling a `crisis of natality’. Engaging with two works of fiction - Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) and Anne Michaels’ Fugitive Pieces (1997) – the paper explores the embodied, affective and intimate dimensions of the struggle to sustain life under catastrophic conditions. Though centred on male protagonists, both novels offer insights into a `stratigraphic time’ (Colebrook, 2009) associated primarily with maternal responsibility – involving a temporal give and take that passes between generations and across thresholds in the Earth itself. If this is a construction of inter-corporeality in which each life and every breath has utmost value, it is also a vision that exceeds the biopolitical prioritization of the organismic body - as evidenced in both McCarthy and Michaels’ gesturing beyond the bounds of the living to a forceful, sensate and enigmatic cosmos.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Body and Society
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Body & Society, 23 (3), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Body & Society page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? anthropoceneintercorporeality natalitystratigraphic time catastrophe climate change biopolitics cultural studiessocial psychologyhealth(social science) ??
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31 Oct 2016 09:38
Last Modified:
26 Jun 2024 23:54