The Ecological Citizen: A peer-reviewed ecocentric journal


Long article

On dying ecologically in the Anthropocene

Joshua Trey Barnett

The Ecological Citizen Vol 2 No 1 2018: 23–9

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First published: 1 July 2018  |  Permanent URL  |  Download citation in RIS format


Abstract

What might we learn about living a more ecocentric life from contemplating death? Alongside persistent calls for radical, large-scale cultural transformations, this article contends that we ought also to turn our attention to the humble and humbling task of caring for the dead. As we learn to dwell on Earth in the Anthropocene (a concept critiqued in the article), we would do well to incorporate dying, death, decay, decomposition and 'deathcare' into our critical lexicon. A genuinely ecocentric culture must come to terms with the intimate entwinement of life and death. Focusing on ecological deathcare practices in the US, the article demonstrates how innovative approaches to deathcare may be propelling our bodies into more ecocentric relationships with(in) the teeming more-than-human world. Recompose, a public benefit corporation which serves in this essay as an exemplar of these emergent deathcare practices, invites us to enter our dead bodies into new assemblages. In its efforts to develop a human composting system, Recompose enjoins us to give our bodies (back) to the ecological systems that sustain them, to become soil with others in the compost heap. Living ecologically, this article sustains, must also come to mean dying ecologically.

 

Keywords

Anthropocentrism, Dying ecologically, Sustainability

 


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