Decolonizing the Cosmopolitan Geospatial Imaginary of the Anthropocene: Beyond Collapsed and Exclusionary Politics of Climate Change


  • Shelby E. Ward Virginia Tech



This paper extends Tariq Jazeel’s argument on cosmopolitanism to the Anthropocene. Jazeel argues that cosmopolitanism should be thought of geospatially, as a geographic analysis reveals that cosmopolitanism cannot escape its own historically Western spatial imaginary, ultimately collapsing difference and universalizing humanity (77). In reaction against suggestions that cosmopolitanism is a more ethical and socially responsible approach to changing environments, I maintain instead that the Anthropocene already operates within a cosmopolitan geospatial imaginary, which not only collapses blame and responsibility in the face of global environmental crises but also silences and erases the historical contexts of exploitation and extraction that follow within north-south lines of coloniality. Therefore, a decolonization of the cosmopolitan geospatial imaginary of the Anthropocene requires, in order to situate continued coloniality in environmental geopolitics and international relations, looking at the frameworks of both the nation-state and cosmopolitanism. The sections follow a critique of this proposed dialectic working within systems of exclusionary politics of the nation-state and the collapsing politics of cosmopolitanism.

Author Biography

Shelby E. Ward, Virginia Tech

Shelby E. Ward is a doctoral candidate in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) at Virginia Tech, where she teaches for the Political Science Department. Her research interests include, critical, literary, and feminist theory, geocriticism, issues of development, poetics, postcolonialism, and theories of space and mapping. Her dissertation project, “Stranger Maps: poetic mapping as potential resistance in Sri Lankan tourist maps,” introduces poetic mapping as a theoretical framework and methodology that situates the textuality of the tourist map within its contingent, historically developed power relations, as it performs the already-extendied invitation of hospitality to the cosmopolitan tourist. Ward is also co-editor of SPECTRA (the Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Theory Archives), a peer-reviewed and open-access journal.


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How to Cite

Ward, S. E. (2019). Decolonizing the Cosmopolitan Geospatial Imaginary of the Anthropocene: Beyond Collapsed and Exclusionary Politics of Climate Change. Pivot: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies and Thought, 7(1).