Humanist Ethics in Planning in the Era of Capitalocene

Authors: Ihnji Jon*, University of Melbourne, Prince K. Guma, British Institute in Eastern Africa
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Human-Environment Geography, Anthropocene
Keywords: Humanist ethics, Hannah Arendt, Sylvia Wynter, Capitalocene, Anthropocene, Environment Planning
Session Type: Virtual Guided Poster
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 26
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The purpose of this review article is to propose a vision of ‘humanist city’ in the age of Capitalocene. In urban studies, the ‘material/more-than-human turn’—which highlights the role of the environment, space, or non-human elements of what surrounds us—has been hailed as the new ethos in environment planning. This material turn often downplays human agency, resulting in the failure to recognise our collective will and responsibility to embark on a transformative change. In this paper, we propose a return to humanist values in planning and geography, especially if they were to embrace the life conditions of growing youth populations in the Global South. We provide two levels of review: (1) environmentalist planning ideas coming from political ecology and urban geography literature (e.g., Green New Deal, Degrowth, Climate Urbanism) (2) humanist ethics in Hannah Arendt’s politics of natality, Anna Tsing’s feminist anthropology, Helen Hester’s transitionist post/humanism and Sylvia Wynter and Katherine McKittrick's 'being human as praxis'. We argue that, in order to consider humanist ethics in planning in the age of Capitalocene, we need to discuss how political ecologists and environment planning theorists would factor in the rapid population growth in the Southern hemisphere. The first review therefore lays ground for synthesising what we know in terms of key fashions in the intersection of urban political ecology and environmentalist planning; the second review provides theoretical viewpoints that could link humanist ethics with ‘more than human’ environmentalism. Following the reviews, we propose a framework for humanist city-building in the Capitalocene.

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