Spaces of appearance : Intergenerational and interspecies relations in the Anthropocene

Sammanfattning: The thesis brings together childhood studies and the problems of environmental degradation and climate change. It focuses on intergenerational and interspecies relations and aspects connected to environmental sustainability. The discussions centre on three contexts: a sea (the Öresund region), a desert (the Sonoran Desert), and the school strikes for the climate (global). Taking an approach inspired by phenomenology, these contexts are examined using the notion of appearance. Questions are asked about which subjects and objects (can) appear – where, when and to whom – and about the conditions for and implications of those appearances (or their absence). The project is twofold: i) developing a conceptualisation of appearance that can serve ethico-political theorising, especially in regard to children, generations and non-human species in times of environmental degradation, and ii) discussing appearance(s) in relation to specific sustainability activities, linked to the three mentioned contexts. Central scholars drawn upon are Hannah Arendt and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as well as feminist scholars’ development of their theorising.Proposing a dual take on acting, it is suggested that creating change in regard to environmental degradation is a matter of both collective political action (creating an Arendtian inter-subjective space of appearance) and an individual body-subject’s way of interacting with objects that appear to it. Further, the reversibility of acting is emphasised, that is, that one who can act can also be acted on, and in this way, capacity (acting) is interlinked with susceptibility and vulnerability (being acted on). However, it is argued that different human and non-human subjects are not equally vulnerable, nor equally responsible, with regard to environmental degradation. Given differences between generations and between species in relation to temporal and spatial “points of appearance” – the points where one appears, or will appear – it is proposed that we should also discuss how the world itself appears to different subjects from their respective point of appearance.