Journal article

Anoraks, train timetables, bus rides and biscuits

Australia Tasmania

In this paper I explore a climate change politics which is deemed ‘impossible’ by some yet still offering opportunities for radical difference. Neoliberal managerialist approaches to climate change combine a consensual populism and technical economic instrumentalism to reflect what Žižek and Rancière, among others, heralds an end to politics. However, the demands for social action around sustainable transport, for example, challenge such ‘post-politics’. My own role on a community advisory panel established to evaluate a light rail proposal for the city of Hobart provides an opportunity to examine social action as it unfolds in this context. Recounting some of the interactions among government and community members involved in this project, I discuss how individual experiences of concession, failure and resistance under a post-political paradigm can still give effect to a real and meaningful politics. Indeed, it is in the contingent materiality of our everyday practices that we get to take on the seemingly impossible politics of climate change as we engage ethical issues—explained in Derridean terms as the undecidability of aporia—which force difficult decisions and thus enact the political as it might be better understood.

Stewart Williams is a lecturer in the School of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Tasmania. He teaches and researches on sustainability, ethics and planning viewed through a critical post-structural lens. His work is published in Australian Geographical Studies, Geographical Research, Social Forces, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Island, Housing Studies and the International Journal of Housing Policy.

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