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Slow seminar no. 39

Neoliberalization and the Anthropocene.

Info about event


Thursday 18 January 2018,  at 17:00 - 19:00


Jens Christian Schous vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C (1451, 515).

Dear friends of AURA


The next AURA Slow Seminar will be in 2018.  The title is Neoliberalization and the Anthropocene. It will take place 18 January 2018, kl. 17-19 at Jens Christian Schous vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C (1451, 515).


Please note this will be a video seminar together with the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Opening remarks: Heather Swanson


If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Mia Korsbaek at korsbaek@cas.au.dk

Sandwiches will be provided to those who RSVP. Please let Mia know if you are vegetarian, etc.




1. Melinda Cooper (2017) Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism. Zone Books. (Especially Chapters 1, 3, 4, and 6) Copies of the book has been ordered to Stakbogladen.


2. Susan Wright. (2017) “Can the University be a Livable Institution in the Anthropocene?” In The University as a Critical Institution? Eds, Rosemary Deem and Heather Eggins. Sense Publishers. (Article will be made available to participants before the seminar.)





In general, Anthropocene conversations have focused relatively little on kinship, households, and family forms. When such topics have arisen, they have tended to focus relatively narrowly on debates about population and reproduction.


This Slow Seminar aims to approach family and kinship from a different angle – by examining the links between neoliberalism, capitalism, and political efforts to support certain family structures.


Cooper’s book is a tour de force, a careful historical analysis of how American neoliberalism and consumption-centered capitalism have grown only through their engagement with and promotion of “family values,” “personal responsibility,” and family debt. While Cooper’s work is focused exclusively on the U.S., it calls out for comparison. Her point is that politics of the family and economic modes are connected: How might they also be connected in Denmark, albeit in different ways?


If the Anthropocene is (at least in part) the Capitalocene, we need to better understand how its economic systems have come into being and how they work – including through their articulation with family forms.


Cooper does not mention the Anthropocene or the environment at all. She gives us the link between neoliberal capitalism and families, but leaves it there. The challenge I want to pose is how might we use Cooper’s book to think more carefully about the Anthropocene/Capitalocene and the ways we might want to engage with family politics within those conversations. 


In contrast, the article by Wright makes an explicit connection between neoliberalism and the Anthropocene. Working through the institution of the university rather than the family, Wright calls for scholars to think about how our profession is implicated in ecological destruction and opens up questions of how we might make universities otherwise. It is also important to note that Wright is writing from a Danish context, which makes for a nice comparison with Cooper’s U.S. centric text. Overall, I think her article is absolutely critical reading for this seminar.



Thank you for attending the seminars of 2017. We hope to see you at the next one in 2018!