Is long-term thinking a trap? Chronowashing, temporal narcissism and the time machines of racism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this provocation I critique the notion of long-term thinking and the claims of its proponents that it will help address failures in dominant conceptions of time. Drawing on analyses of The Clock of the Long Now and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry for the Future, I suggest that we be more wary of chrono-washing. Like the more familiar green-washing, I explore how these examples of long-term thinking distract from extractivism, racism and environmental injustice and disconnect from the work of building more equitable forms of relation. Instead I argue for more complex approaches that explicitly take into account the temporalities of inequality, political organization, and ethical responsibilities. I engage with approaches to time that foreground the work needed to make ethical temporalities, including Charles W. Mills’ white time and Kyle Powys Whyte’s kinship time. I suggest that a stronger emphasis on the temporality of community, solidarity and coalition – versus what James Hatley and Deborah Bird Rose have described as temporal narcissism – can better foreground the kinds of work that needs to be done, particularly by those with privilege.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Humanities
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Oct 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • long-term thinking
  • future generations
  • critical time studies
  • futures
  • time


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