What if: Multispecies justice as the expression of utopian desire

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One way of understanding calls for ‘multispecies justice’ is to interpret them as utopian demands for a desirable future in which the structural anthropocentrism of conventional forms of morality, including environmental ethics, has been thoroughly abolished. I hope to clarify what kind of utopia multispecies justice might specifically entail. Mobilizing a conceptual framework developed by the science fiction author Octavia Butler, three potential plotlines for the utopia of multispecies justice are identified: the What-If, the If-Only and the If-This-Goes-On. Each of these engages the various tasks of utopianism in interestingly different ways. The key argument is that multispecies justice primarily raises a challenging What-If question: as a critical interrogation of how we should process and experience the world (and our place within it), its power derives from the ‘educated hope’ to disrupt and reassemble outdated frameworks for making sense of the nature/culture divide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-276
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Issue number2
Early online date22 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2022


  • estrangement
  • multispecies justice
  • perfectionism
  • utopianism


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