Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change

This article begins by describing how the figure of the human has been thought in anticolonial and postcolonial writing—as that of the rights-bearing citizen and as the “subject under erasure” of deconstructive thinking, respectively. The essay then goes on to show how the science of climate change foregrounds the idea of human beings’ collective geological agency in determining the climate of the planet, a move that makes the other two figures not redundant but inadequate to the task of imagining the human in the age of the Anthropocene. The article ends by arguing the necessity of our having to think of the human on multiple and incommensurable scales simultaneously, keeping all the three figures of the human in disjunctive association with one another.