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Jonathan Pugh and David Chandler: The World as Abyss

Updated: Mar 1

Monday, January 22, 10 am Pacific Time



Please join our guest speakers Jonathan Pugh and David Chandler for the launch of their new book "The World as Abyss: The Caribbean and Critical Thought in the Anthropocene". The authors will give a presentation discussing the book which will be followed by an open discussion.

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The World as Abyss: The Caribbean and Critical Thought in the Anthropocene

By Jonathan Pugh and David Chandler


This book is about a distinctive ‘abyssal’ approach to the crisis of modernity. In this framing, influenced by contemporary critical Black studies, another understanding of the world of modernity is foregrounded – a world violently forged through the projects of Indigenous dispossession, chattel slavery and colonial world-making. Modern and colonial world-making violently forged the ‘human’ by dividing those with ontological security from those without, and by carving out the ‘world’ in a fixed grid of space and time, delineating a linear temporality of ‘progress’ and ‘development’. The distinctiveness of abyssal thought is that it inverts the stakes of critique and brings indeterminacy into the heart of ontological assumptions of a world of entities, essences, and universal determination. This is an approach that does not focus upon tropes of rescue and salvation but upon the generative power of negation. In doing so, it highlights how Caribbean experiences and writings have been drawn upon to provide an important and distinct perspective for critical thought.


“A new-found conceptual language for coming-to-terms-with, and politically confronting, the enduring ontological lives of colonial violence.” – Thomas Dekeyser, Postcolonial Studies


“Original, intriguing and compelling…essential reading for those in environmental humanities or Anthropocene studies ” – Claire Colebrook, Penn State University, USA


“The force of a manifesto, the intensity of a polemic and the nuance of a treatise” –Paul Harrison, Durham University, UK


“Powerfully illuminates the trap of the emancipatory instinct and the promise of a deconstructive ethic” – Mitch Rose, Aberystwyth University, UK


Further readings:

Pugh and Chandler (2023) 'The World as Abyss: the Caribbean and Critical Thought in the Anthropocene’. University of Westminster Press. £12 or Open Access download for free. https://www.uwestminsterpress.co.uk/site/books/m/10.16997/book72/


Pugh and Chandler (2021) 'Anthropocene Islands: Entangled Worlds’. University of Westminster Press. £18 or Open Access download for free. https://doi.org/10.16997/book52 Chandler and Pugh (2021) 'Anthropocene Islands: there are only islands after the end of the world’. Dialogues in Human Geography. Open Access Download. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2043820621997018

Publications: https://newcastle.academia.edu/JonathanPugh Publications: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jonathan-Pugh-3 Google Scholar Page: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=mb5o4twAAAAJ&hl=en ‘Anthropocene Islands’ website: https://www.anthropoceneislands.online ‘Anthropocene Islands’ section Island Studies Journal: https://islandstudies.ca/node/534 Twitter: @jonnypugh1974 Facebook and Instagram: Jon Pugh Islands



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