Title The Unconstructable Earth
Subtitle An Ecology of Separation
Author Frédéric Neyrat
ISBN 9780823282579
List price GBP 22.99
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 256
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher Fordham University Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
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“This is a vitally important book that stakes out a new position in the environmental humanities. Neyrat offers both a critique of current tendencies in ecological thought and positive proposals for a different philosophical approach. This is not a book of policy recommendations, but rather of basic foundational concerns that any actually policy will have to address and to be answerable to. A powerful and closely reasoned argument that anyone concerned with the fate of the Earth needs to take into account.”

—Steven Shaviro, Wayne State University


“This is a book of great interest that addresses a topic of considerable concern among environmentalists in North America and Western Europe today—how to find a third way between ‘eco-modernism’ and an organic and holistic nature.”

—Ursula Heise, University of California, Los Angeles


“An unflinching critique of geoengineering, this book offers hope in a sliver of uncolonized, unmapped, unconstructed space and time, amid the super-storms of ideology, the teleology of historicism, and the bad faith of political actors with vested interests. Planet earth is not an object or a subject, but a trajectory in time and space toward anti-production, entropy, perhaps extinction—cause for a new political ecology in the time of 400+ ppm of CO2.”

—Karen Pinkus, author of Fuel: A Speculative Dictionary


Winner, French Voices Award for excellence in publication and translation.

The Space Age is over? Not at all! A new planet has appeared: Earth. In the age of the Anthropocene, the Earth is a post-natural planet that can be remade at will, controlled and managed thanks to the prowess of geoengineering. This new imaginary is also accompanied by a new kind of power—geopower—that takes the entire Earth, in its social, biological and geophysical dimensions, as an object of knowledge, intervention, and governmentality. In short, our rising awareness that we have destroyed our planet has simultaneously provided us not with remorse or resolve but with a new fantasy: that the Anthropocene delivers an opportunity to remake our terrestrial environment thanks to the power of technology.

Such is the position we find ourselves in, when proposals for reengineering the earth’s ecosystems and geosystems are taken as the only politically feasible answer to ecological catastrophe. Yet far from being merely the fruit of geo-capitalism, this new grand narrative of geopower has also been activated by theorists of the constructivist turn—ecomodernist, postenvironmentalist, accelerationist—who have likewise called into question the great divide between nature and culture. With the collapse of this divide, a cyborg, hybrid, flexible nature has been built, an impoverished nature that does not exist without being performed by technologies that proliferate within the space of human needs and capitalist imperatives. Underneath this performative vision resides a hidden anaturalism denying all otherness to nature and the Earth, no longer by externalizing it as a thing to be dominated, but by radically internalizing it as something to be digested. Constructivist ecology thus finds itself in no position to confront the geoconstructivist project, with its claim that there is no nature and its aim to replace Earth with Earth 2.0.

Against both positions, Neyrat stakes out the importance of the unconstructable Earth. Against the fusional myth of technology over nature, but without returning to the division between nature and culture, he proposes an “ecology of separation” that acknowledges the wild, subtractive capacity of nature. Against the capitalist, technocratic delusion of earth as a constructible object, but equally against an organicism marked by unacknowledged traces of racism and sexism, Neyrat shows what it means to appreciate Earth as an unsubstitutable becoming: a traject that cannot be replicated in a laboratory. Underway for billions of years, withdrawing into the most distant past and the most inaccessible future, Earth escapes the hubris of all who would remake and master it.

This remarkable book, which will be of interest to those across the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, from theorists to shapers of policy, recasts the earth as a singular trajectory that invites humans to turn political ecology into a geopolitics.


Introduction: Reconstructing the Earth?

Part I. The Mirror of the Anthropocene: Geoengineering, Terraforming, and Earth Stewardship

The Copenhagen Chiasm

Chapter 1. The Screen of Geoengineering

Chapter 2. The Mirror of the Anthropocene

Chapter 3. Terraforming: Reconstructing the Earth, Recreating Life

Chapter 4. The Logic of Geopower: Power, Management, and Earth Stewardship

Part II. The Future of Eco-constructivism: From Resilience to Accelerationism

Turbulence, Resilience, Distance

Chapter 5. An Ecology of Resilience: The Political Economy of Turbulence

Chapter 6. The Extraplanetary Environment of the Ecomodernists

Chapter 7. The “Political Ecology” of Bruno Latour: No Environments, No Limits, No Monsters (Not Even Fear)

Chapter 8. Anaturalism and Its Ghosts

Chapter 9. The Technological Fervor of Eco-constructivism

Part III. An Ecology of Separation: Natured, Naturing, Denaturing

Object, Subject, Traject

Chapter 10. Naturing Nature and Natured Nature

Chapter 11. The Real Nature of an Ecology of Separation

Chapter 12. Denaturing Nature

Chapter 13. The Unconstructable Earth

Conclusion: What Is to Be Unmade?



About the Author:

Frédéric Neyrat is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is editor of Alienocene, an online journal that charts the environmental humanities and contemporary theory. His first book in English (following thirteen in French) is Atopias: Manifesto for a Radical Existentialism (Fordham, 2018).

About the Translator:

Drew S. Burk is the translator of more than dozen books in continental philosophy and theory.

Target Audience:

People interested in Environmental studies.


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