Anthropocenic Global Capitalism: Conflicts, Crises and Ruptures of Time – Wayne Hope

Wednesday 23 October, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

RSVP via Eventbrite

Evidence from geology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry, geochemistry and oceanography suggest that the earth has experienced a historic step-change in the relationship between human species and the natural world. In anthropocenic terms, human action and earth dynamics have converged; they can no longer be seen as disparate entities. Human inhabitants of the planet have perpetrated, and are facing, unprecedented environmental shifts. They include biodiversity loss, anthropogenic climate change and disruptions to the carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle. In a warmer world and a depleted biosphere, multiple risks emerge: melting ice flows, rising ocean acidity, extreme weather events, damage to agricultural systems and unequal social suffering. Most centrally, it is now evident, in retrospect, that the switch from organic surface energy to underground fossil energy has intertwined the time of earth with the time of human history.

Understanding the capitalist relations of power involved here requires that we rethink industrial capitalism in the historical context of a world system built upon unequal socio-ecological exchange between core and periphery. From a contemporary perspective, the formation of global capitalism has intensified the anthropocenic feedback loops associated with CO2 emissions /climate change and the universalised organisational frameworks of profit extraction and socio-ecological destruction. I will argue that an epochal conjuncture between the Anthropocene and global capitalism generates a cluster of time conflicts centred around time reckoning, temporality and the denial of coevalness. These time conflicts materialise in regard to the earth system and fossil fuel extraction, carbon-based commodity fetishism and global warming/greenhouse tipping point scenarios. Taken together, these materialisations of time conflict are generating a three-fold crisis within and across the earth system, global capitalism and human species being. Extrapolations of these crises will, in my view, rupture the dual epoch of anthropocenic global capitalism. I conclude by assessing the ramifications of this scenario.

Professor Wayne Hope Wayne Hope is a Professor in the School of Communication Studies at the Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. His specific areas of research include: New Zealand media history and public sphere analysis, the political economy of communication, sport-media relationships and globalisation and time. He is the author of Time, Communication and Global Capitalism (Palgrave, 2016). The book was described by one reviewer as follows: “a virtuoso work of synthesis, provocative and pathbreaking. It needs to be read by anyone interested in the ways we live now, where we might be headed and how we might arrive at destinations not at the neoliberal route map.” Wayne’s research has also been published in a range of journals including Media, Culture & Society, the International Journal of Communication, Time & Society and tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. He is founding co-editor of the international online journal Political Economy of Communication ( Within New Zealand, Wayne has appeared regularly as a media commentator on television and radio when not writing pieces against neoliberalism in The Daily Blog.