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Bock Emily R. | Fellow Visitor
2021-11-22 - 2021-12-06 | Research area: Philosophy of Biology
Theoretical Genealogies of Adaptation

This project intervenes in interdisciplinary, reflexive, and conceptual debates currently ongoing across ecology, anthropology, environmental studies, science studies, and sustainability studies over (a) how to envision of human flourishing and the good life under conditions of planetary-scale environmental volatility, and in consequence, (b) the conceptual resources and intellectual traditions relevant to diversifying “decolonizing” sustainability.
In the main, social scientists and humanists have raised these issues by turning toward cosmologies understood to rival or supplement orthodox North Atlantic technoscience. In this way, the academic project of diversifying and decolonizing sustainability has addressed itself primarily to the concepts and institutions of natural science, and it has done so by emphasizing the value of local, place-based, and traditional knowledge of the nonhuman world. Yet sustainability is, as we have noted above, not only a matter of natural science; it is equally an historical project concerned with how human forms of life ought to arrange themselves in response to ecological stress. And thus our project takes a novel path by exploring a heterodox modern tradition of reflection on, and experimentation with, adaptation. We examine historical debates in Black studies over the meaning, virtues, challenges, and hazards of adaptation to a world of racial capitalism, in an effort to see how it might make contact with scientific conceptions of adaptation, and in doing so, throw new light on the problem of adaptation to the volatile planet that racial capitalism has made.