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Disaster Making in the Capitalocene

O’Lear, Shannon; Masse, Francis; Dickinson, Hannah; Duffy, Rosaleen

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Shannon O’Lear

Francis Masse

Rosaleen Duffy


We live in a new normal of increasing, crosscutting, and shifting patterns of disasters fueled by large-scale environmental change, from floods to wildfires to pandemics. Our intervention in this forum piece makes the case that disasters, and responses to disasters, must be understood within the context of the global political-economic system of capitalism. We situate disasters, their making, and their politics within the Capitalocene and argue that disasters and the physical processes that underpin them are not natural: they are unevenly produced through, and exacerbated by, processes inherent in the capitalist system, with uneven consequences. We suggest that the predominantly technomanagerial approaches to disasters pursued within the neoliberal state and multilateral governance institution system reveal the tensions in addressing the causes of environmental change and the new normal of disasters under capitalism. We argue that through an engagement with the Capitalocene, environmental politics could further contribute to nuanced, critical understandings of disasters and their making in ways that foreground their in/justice implications.


O’Lear, S., Masse, F., Dickinson, H., & Duffy, R. (2022). Disaster Making in the Capitalocene. Global Environmental Politics, 22(3), 2-11.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Aug 1, 2022
Publication Date 2022-08
Deposit Date Sep 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 1, 2023
Journal Global Environmental Politics
Print ISSN 1526-3800
Electronic ISSN 1536-0091
Publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 3
Pages 2-11


Published Journal Article (194 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2022 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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