Matilda Fitzmaurice: “(Re)theorising Climate Justice for the Anthropocene: a comparative study of activist movements in South Africa and the UK”

In Students by jvnf65


My doctoral research brings climate change-focused environmental activism into a three-way dialogue with postcolonial theory and the emergent literatures concerning the so-called ‘Anthropocene’. Initially, it considers the specificity of ‘climate justice’ as both novel conceptual framework and globally-oriented social movement. Discursively, climate justice emphasizes the systemic vulnerability of the world’s poorest people to the effects of climate change and as such calls for global power relations to be radically inverted.

The fieldwork component in South Africa and here in the UK will allow me to observe how climate justice is practiced and articulated across various geographical locations. It will also underscore the importance of viewing climate justice – and its (latent) Eurocentrism – through a critical postcolonial lens. At this stage, I will also engage the ‘Anthropocene thesis’ – the notion that ‘human’ agency has stepped outside the domain of the ‘social’ and into that of the ‘natural’ or ‘geological’ – in order to assess the challenges it poses to the very fundamentals of postcolonial critique. By taking a fresh look at environmental activism, this research considers the weighty implications of the climate crisis for established definitions of politics and the social sciences.

In addition to my studies, I have a long-standing interest in issues of food poverty, food waste and sustainable diets, and in 2017 I co-ran the Norwich chapter of the nationwide anti-food waste charity Foodcycle.