Sustainability, the Animal and the Anthropocene  — ASN Events

Sustainability, the Animal and the Anthropocene  (17170)

Iris Bergmann 1
  1. The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The Anthropocene is a seductive concept. It provides justification to maintain the course we are on and avoid the paradigm shift required to transition toward sustainability. In order to be able to critically reflect on and respond to the ideas of the Anthropocene from a sustainability perspective, we need to have a deeper level understanding of sustainability. A major shortcoming of most conceptualisations of sustainability is the exclusion of nonhuman animals. The argument put forward in this paper is that the potential of the concept of sustainability can only be fully realised by being species inclusive, by letting go of the anthropocentric focus and the believe in human exceptionalism and by adopting a multi- and interspecies perspective. There is an urgent need to open up the discourse of sustainability to the advancements made in the wider field of animal studies. This paper presents some of these advances and discusses how they overlap and link in with sustainability concepts. This includes dimensions based in moral, political and legal realms and refers to the domains of rights, social justice and cognitive justice, knowledge systems, relational ethics, but also to concepts such as “sufficiency”, “happiness” and what it may mean to live a good life.  Such expanded sustainability literacy has the potential to develop our ability to recognise and resist the temptations of the ideas of the Anthropocene, and to protect animals - and us - from ourselves.