If the predictions are correct, climate change will force millions of people from their homes, threatening a future of humanitarian crises, political violence, and strife. In The Other of Climate Change, Andrew Baldwin intervenes in the international political debate about climate change and human migration to tell a different story. He argues that international attempts to govern those who stand to be displaced by climate change are as much or more to do with resuscitating European humanism at a moment in which geophysical phenomena like climate change and the Anthropocene threaten to extinguish the human altogether. Through detailed interpretations of the figure of the climate migrant/refugee, Baldwin traces the contours of an emerging form of planetary racial rule – racial futurism - unfolding in the context of the climate change crisis. He shows how racial futurism takes shape as a political response to the crisis of humanism that is said to lay at the heart of the climate change crisis. Along the way, he examines numerous themes that are at the forefront of contemporary thinking about climate change and politics, including the political, humanism, sovereignty, neoliberalism, the international, and race. Ultimately, the book is a plea for scholars, activists, and policymakers to take seriously the way race and racism are bound up with the political discourse on climate change and migration and to ask what this means for the wider political debate about climate change and the future.
Andrew Baldwin is associate professor of human geography at Durham University. He is the co-editor of Life Adrift: Climate Change, Migration, Critique and Climate Change, Migration and Human Rights: Law and Policy Perspectives.
Chapter 1 – A Theory of Racial Futurism
Chapter 2 – The Racial Other of Climate Change
Chapter 3 – World White Order
Chapter 4 – From Determinism to Complexity
Chapter 5 – Premediating Climate Change and Migration
Chapter 6 – Adaptive Migration
Chapter 7 – Conclusion
If you think that the climate migrant/refugee is a real thing, think again. Andrew Baldwin rattles our assumptions about global climate change, convincingly demonstrating that the idea of climate migration had to be invented to save white humanism, while protecting the West from the future threat of the non-white migrant. The Other of Climate Change is a brilliant, elegantly written, and much-needed critical reflection on the racial underpinnings of our climate crisis.
The climate refugee, forced to flee the South in the wake of climate change, is a phantom and a racialized one to boot. As this book powerfully argues, such a phantom upholds white supremacy and racial capitalism by drawing us into a narrative about white saviors who will save the earth and the hapless Indigenous, Brown, and Black peoples trapped in apocalyptic scenarios of a rapidly deteriorating planet. Key to the fantasy is the innocent European, imagined only as the force of good and never the source of the catastrophe in the first place. We should beware of the racialized phantoms of climate change who populate U.N. reports and political discourses. The simple storyline they peddle, that climate change causes migration, keeps us from confronting the true nature of the crisis we face, the annihilative heart of racial capitalism and the devastation it endlessly wreaks.
The Other of Climate Change brilliantly dispels any possibility of understanding climate change in simplistic or binary terms. It soars beyond the whiteness of climate change and racialized discourse to tangle with the massive and complex ways in which racialized thinking thwarts and compromises attempts to slow climate change, and further racializes those most affected, especially climate change migrants/refugees, reinforcing and re-entangling the state of racialization. Baldwin is a dexterous, complex, and profound thinker.
What are we talking about when we talk about “climate refugees?” We are talking about race. Andrew Baldwin has written an impeccable and devastating immanent critique of the racialized discourses on climate change and migration. My thinking on these issues will never be the same and I hope The Other of Climate Change will be a handbook for climate migration justice for years to come.
The Other of Climate Change is an excoriating critique of the way White humanism plays out in climate change and migration discourses. This is a must-read book for anyone wishing to understand how racism and white privilege shape not only the material effects of climate change on Black and brown people, but also the discourse about it.
The Other of Climate Change builds on subversive works of political thought on race and humanism to locate the position of the contemporary ‘climate refugee’ within hierarchies of the human in this time of planetary crisis. Baldwin’s many years of analytical reflection on the active discourses of climate migration result in a theorisation of “racial futurism” in which “white humanism” is rejuvenated through the racialised other of climate change – the figure on the move from rising tides. This deceptively clear book distils the complexity of white humanism’s reinventions through contemporary racisms in this era of climate change and anticipatory governance. While much analysis of race and climate change brings the evils of ecofascism into focus, Baldwin helpfully reminds us that liberal humanism operates as much through structures of racism and white supremacy in their dynamic contemporary forms.
5/12/22, Choice: This book was featured in a roundup of forthcoming titles in science & technology.