Review of Bruno Latour, Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climate Regime. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017. 300 pages.

Shannon O'Rourke


Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climate Regime (FG, 2017) in significant ways represents an ecological application of Latour’s lifelong development of an anthropology of the moderns. Latour tells us in 2008, in an acceptance speech for the Siegfried Unseld Prize, that for more than thirty years he has been working towards the development of a system. This system was the focus of his 2012 An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence (AIME). This system aims at providing a metaphysical framework in which moderns, or those who have never been modern, describe the various ways—modes—with which one can and does make sense of the world. Anthropology here can be understood as attempts to describe the peoples of the world, how they situate and make sense of themselves and the worlds of others, whereas metaphysics here is how these worlds are cleaved at the joints. Thus, while FG is not the outline of his system, which was the project of AIME, it relies on the schemes developed there to provide a sustained exploration of the need for a new climatic regime in light of ecological collapse.

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