The Anthropocene and the Destruction of Place

Ms Briohny Walker1

1The University Of Tasmania


This paper focuses on the destruction of place as a contributor to the mass ecological degradation that defines the Anthropocene epoch. I suggest that the development and continuance of capitalism relies on the abstraction and disemplacement of human and more-than-human beings and materials, created through commodification, colonialism, globalised trade and the abstraction of labour. These processes have had significant impacts for the development of Western ontologies, including understandings of matter as inert and quantifiable (as typified in Cartesian dualism, a theory developed under the influence of early capitalism), conceptions of time as linear, and an inability to meaningfully conceive of ontological pluralism. As the ecological impacts of processes of extraction and exchange have accumulated and complexified, the lively disobedience of the nonhuman world is shaking disemplaced Western ontologies down to their core. Questions of how to respond to these issues are complicated by the vastness and complexity of ecological change. Anthropocene scholarship, while potentially a useful heuristic for thinking through these issues, has itself the capacity to be universalising, and to tend too little to the locations and specificities of its own creation. Closing, the paper asks, what is, and what could be, place in the Anthropocene?


Briohny Walker ( is a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania in Philosophy and Gender Studies, with interests in feminist philosophy, queer theory, anti-capitalist politics and the Anthropocene. Briohny is a cofounder of Brisbane Free University and Queering Health Hobart.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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