On November 6, 2021, I had the honor of delivering the keynote speech for the 2021 Philippine International Studies Organization (PHISO) Virtual Conference on the theme of “Global Anthropocene.” It was a meaningful engagement with scholars from the Philippines and other countries from the “Global South” about the value and critiques of the Anthropocene discourse within the discipline of International Relations.
The universalizing tendency of the Anthropocene as a concept overshadows the injustices and inequalities in human history. Those most responsible for the causes of the Anthropocene are less likely to bear the brunt of its consequences, while those who are least responsible are generally the most vulnerable. Unsustainable practices, and even responses to environmental challenges in the Anthropocene, may also amplify present injustices and inequalities between and within societies. The challenge for IR scholars, practitioners, and students is to disrupt these Western-centric, hubristic, and exclusionary tendencies and situate the myriad histories, vulnerabilities, and agencies in this new geological epoch. This keynote speech offers an overview and some considerations for pluralizing IR discipline’s engagement with the Anthropocene discourse.