PhD & Postdoc Seminar: Critical Theory, Planetary Multiplicity and Cosmopolitan Justice

  • Datum: –15.00
  • Plats: Institutet för Rysslands- och Eurasienstudier (IRES) IRES Library, Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor, or via Zoom:
  • Föreläsare: Tracey Skillington, Lecturer and Director of the BA Sociology in the School of Society, Politics and Ethics, University College Cork, Ireland
  • Arrangör: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES), Department of Social and Economic Geography, and Uppsala Forum
  • Kontaktperson: Johanna Ohlsson
  • Seminarium

Välkommen till detta Uppsala Forum seminarium med Tracey Skillington, University College Cork och gästforskare vid Uppsala Forum 31/8-8/9. Evenemanget hålls på engelska.

Relatively early on in the course of its development, western modernity embraced the idea of planetary multiplicity. As Kant observed in Universal Natural History (1755), the Earth’s planetary body periodically undergoes significant and often irreversible change. In their capacity to divide epochs, ‘earthly revolutions’ are said to give rise to new world-orders that ‘form and attain completion one after another’. ‘Revolution’ in this instance denotes more than just major political social transformation but any significant planetary mutation, whether slow or rapid, that impacts all planetary life, including humans. By the early nineteenth century, however, this planetary perspective had already changed. In its place, a more rationalized world perspective that set about replacing the idea of planetary multiplicity with that of human domination (and with it, the scientific predictability, manipulation and transformation of nature). Europeans now conceived of themselves as a civilization ‘that owes its finitude only to itself’ (Foucault, 2002) rather than any larger force. In many ways, the move recently towards geo-engineered ‘solutions’ to mounting climate change problems (or a ‘deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment’, Royal Society, 2009) reflects the endurance of this latter perspective. Science is said to offer us the capacity to occupy this planet in some exoplanetary liminal state without any kind of enduring relationship with its ecospheres (if not present Earth, then some reformatted version of it or, better still, another planet). Arguably, this perspective is reflective of a general state of alienation (in terms of how this world is experienced) and further, a tendency to reify it as a flat, mute and hollow space (how this world is represented).


In this seminar, we consider the relevance of Lukacs thesis on reification from a more contemporary critical perspective (e.g., Honneth) before considering, via Rosa’s work on resonance, how this representation is being challenged by moments of resonant connection with damaged ecological life and intense longing to ‘save the planet’ and its various inhabitants. The urgency of challenges encountered provokes a return to the idea of planetary multiplicity, species interdependency and the need for a democratic accommodation of radical difference (newer understandings of what hospitality, resettlement and justice as fairness mean in an era of mass climate displacement and loss).

Dr. Tracey Skillington is a lecturer and Director of the BA Sociology in the School of Society, Politics and Ethics, University College Cork, Ireland. She is author of Climate Justice & Human Rights (Palgrave, 2017); Climate Change & Intergenerational Justice (Routledge, 2019) and forthcoming A Critical Theory of Climate Trauma (Routledge). She has also published articles in many peer reviewed journals and guest edited special issue journal volumes in, for instance, the European Journal of Social Theory, Sociology, the International Journal of Human Rights, the Irish Journal of Sociology, Sociology, Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, and Sustainable Development. Currently, she leads UCC as a partner in the EU Horizon 2020-funded project JUSTNORTH.

This event follows a lecture held on September 3, see more information on the lecture here.