Engendering the Anthropocene in Oceania: Fatalism, Resilience, Resistance

Engendering the Anthropocene in Oceania: Fatalism, Resilience, Resistance
Kiribati. Justin McManus for The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 2013.

The concept of the Anthropocene, as Dipesh Chakrabarty observes, confounds Eurocentric distinctions of natural and human history. But who are ‘we’ in the Anthropocene, how do notions of our shared humanity contend with the cascading global inequalities of place, race, class and gender. Oceania is often said to have contributed the least and suffered the most from climate change. Pacific women, and especially those living on low lying atolls, have been portrayed as the most vulnerable to the disastrous consequences of climate change. This focuses on sea level rise and the toxic mixing, the elemental confusion of salt and fresh water caused by atmospheric changes and global warming. While not negating the gravity of present and future scenarios, how can we move beyond the pervasive fatalism of foreign framings and seemingly opposed evocations of ‘resilience’? The moniker of 350.org ‘We are not drowning, we are fighting’ evokes a contrary trope of resistance and resonates with Oceanic activism in politics and the creative arts. Tracing such a genealogy of resistance might start with a greater respect for Indigenous knowledges and embodied practices in contemporary understandings of ‘climate cultures’ in Oceania which do not routinely distinguish between natural and human history. 


Margaret Jolly (FASSA) was an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow 2010–2016. She is a Professor in the School of Culture, History and Language in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific and the current Convenor of the ANU Gender Institute. She has taught at Macquarie University in Sydney, the University of Hawai’i and the University of California, Santa Cruz and has been a visiting scholar in Anthropology in Cambridge University and at Centre de recherche et documentation sur l’Océanie (CREDO) in Marseille. In 2009 she held a Poste Rouge with the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in France. She is a transdisciplinary scholar who has written extensively on gender in the Pacific, on exploratory voyages and travel writing, missions and contemporary Christianity, maternity and sexuality, cinema and art. She is presently focused on issues of gender and climate change in the Pacific.

Date & time

Wed 14 Aug 2019, 9.30–11am


Room 3.03, Marie Reay Teaching Centre (Building 155), Kambri Precinct, ANU


Professor Margaret Jolly, Australian National University

Event series


Fouzieyha Towghi


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