The Politics of the Anthropocene: Confrontation of the Political Doctrine

Louise Haugaard Malling & Rikke Steen Sørensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In 2000, Nobel Prize winning scientist Paul Crutzen, suggested that we were living in at new geological epoch in which humans had altered the planet. The name of the epoch is anthropocene and it has long been known public debates and politics – often known as man-made climate change. This thesis examines; How has the Anthropocene discourse been constituted in the Danish political system, and what are the implications on the arena of politics? By combining a method of Michel Foucault’s genealogy and archaeology, we analyze how the constitution of the Anthropocene discourse is a result of discursive fragments and problematizations within the Danish environment and climate policy during a time period of from 1880 – 2015. In total 135 years. Foucault is complemented with Giorgio Agamben who contributes with the concepts: The state of exception, naked life and camp to analyze the space of the Anthropocene politics. We define Anthropocene politics as any politics linked to the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees. Thus, Anthropocene politics is defined as politics operating with the survival of humanity. By using Agamben’s state of the exception and camp, we analyze the space of the Anthropocene politics. We conclude, that the Anthropocene discourse has created a new political space called the anthrophonic space. Within this space the naked life become visible, the politics of economics becomes visible as well. Thus, Anthropocene politics present itself as a state of emergency and it excretes a politic where nothing is granted and everything must be argued. We analyze, how two political strategies attempts to conquer this Anthropocene space. We identify the two strategies as the climate radicalism and the climate realism. Climate radicalism is a strategy that attempts to depoliticize politics by emplacing that there is something outside of politics – this is the earth. While climate realism claims that it is within the existing order and arena of politics that it is possible to handle climate crisis and save the earth.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages108
SupervisorsErik Caparros Højbjerg