Latour’s ‘Parliament of Things’: The Problem of Anthropocentrism in Global Climate Change Management

By Vanessa Burns.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper considers Western relations between ‘nature’ and ‘society’ through an examination of the social roles of non-human defendants in early law. I refer to the historical agency of ‘due process’ in upholding certain non-human rights to reflect on the emergent uses of due process in contemporary environmental law and climate change governance. The anthropocentrism intrinsic in Western societies continues to obstruct responses to climate change in new ways. However, evidence suggests that some emergent institutional changes may instead be driven by less normative ‘social’ assemblages. These necessarily reflect the highly complex, global and ocean-centric systems of climate within which human and non-human actors are inextricably connected. To reach any long-term environmental sustainability an ontological shift needs to occur that empirically recognizes these less anthropocentric geographies. Between ecological vulnerability and human resilience to climate change there is a renewed need to ask how these conceptually separated concerns can be more democratically aligned.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Non-Human Rights, Democracy, Western Naturalism, Early Law

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp.81-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 578.045KB).

Vanessa Burns

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Vanessa Burns is a PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales and is currently researching the problems of anthropocentrism in global climate change governance. Her research interests include environmental justice, posthumanist geographies, global citizenship in the context of climate change and non-human rights in international environmental law.


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