Decolonizing Nature

While ecology has received little systematic attention within art history, its visibility has grown worldwide in relation to the pressing threats of climate change, global warming, and environmental destruction. By analysing artists’ widespread aesthetic and political engagement of environmental conditions around the globe—looking at cutting-edge theoretical, biopolitical, and cultural developments in the Global South and North—Decolonizing Nature offers a pioneering contribution to the emerging environmental arts and humanities.

Decolonizing Nature, Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology is published by Sternberg Press.
T.J. Demos is Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Founder and Director of its Center for Creative Ecologies.


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“Decolonizing Nature presents a timely critical analysis of the parameters and limitations of philosophical, artistic, and curatorial models responding to anthropogenic climate change. Rich and informative, the book makes an impassioned argument for a post-anthropocentric political ecology, in which the aesthetic realm enjoins with Indigenous philosophies and environmental activism to challenge the neoliberal corporate-state complex. It invites us to confront tough questions on how we might collectively reimagine and realize environmental justice for humans and nonhumans alike.”
—Jean Fisher, Emeritus Professor in Fine Art and Transcultural Studies, Middlesex University

“Astute and ambitious. Essential reading for anyone interested in the arts, activism, and environmental change. Demos moves with impressive ease across national boundaries, cultural forms, social movements, and ecological theories.”
—Rob Nixon, Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Family Professor in Humanities and the Environment, Princeton University

“Demos breaks new ground in art criticism. In an expansive analysis of polyvocal artist-activist practices in the Global South and the North, Demos eschews environmental catastrophism, scientific determinism, and techno-fixes to highlight collaborative resistance to neocolonial violence and neoliberal collusion-to-plunder. He is also searching for what the path forward might be. Rigorous, accessible, and rebellious, Decolonizing Nature is an inspiring and indispensible contemporary art manifesto.”
—Subhankar Banerjee, Lannan Chair of Land Arts of the American West and Professor of Art and Ecology, University of New Mexico

“With Decolonizing Nature, Demos extends his formidable intellectual project to a realm that has until recently often been characterized by varying degrees of naïveté, obscurantism, and indeed green-washing: the relationship between art and ecology. The first systematic study of its kind, Decolonizing Nature is an exemplary combination of militant research and contemporary art history that will resonate with activists on the front lines as much as those working in the art field, reframing the latter as a site of struggle in its own right as we come to terms with the so-called Anthropocene.”
—Yates McKee, author of Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy Condition

“Demos’s ability to distill and interrelate heterogeneous discourses, practices, and eco-political contexts, without flattening them in the process, is a breathtaking and, moreover, rises to the demands of his complex and urgent subject. Clear in its argumentation and dense with information, the meat of this book lies in its detailed discussion of specific artworks and the environmental struggles from which they emerge and to which they ambitiously, and often brilliantly, respond. Decolonizing Nature makes a forceful case for why and how art matters, now more than ever.”
—Emily Eliza Scott, coeditor of Critical Landscapes: Art, Space, Politics

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