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Reading List for Festival Albertine

by Jessica Erin Cohen

Festival Albertine 2019, curated by environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, tackled climate change. For three days, leading thinkers, politicians, activists, artists, and authors came together to discuss the urgency to act, environmental justice, local policy, the food we eat and produce, and how to motivate people to change their ways.

To access archived footage of the event, click here

Featured Works By Festival Panelists

Works in French

La Grande Adaptation: Climat, capitalisme et catastrophe by Romain Felli (Seuil, 2016)

The thought-provoking and essential La Grande Adaptation explains how our climate and ecosystems are spiraling out of control, requiring societies, regions, and individuals to adapt to inexorable transformations. It argues that capitalists have used the climate to extend their reach under the name of adaptation. To watch socio-environmental researcher Romain Felli speak about what we can do to reach the goals set in the Paris Agreement and whether these targets are technically and politically achievable, click here

Je crise climatique: La planète, ma chaudière et moi by Jade Lindgaard (La découverte, 2014)

Je crise climatique is a must-read to learn more about how we can free ourselves from the desires and habits that destabilize our planet. Through first person narration, it investigates the intimate, paradoxical, and neurotic relationship that we have with our ways of life. On November 9th, Jade Lindgaard is a Journalist at Mediapart and the author and editor of several essays, including the Éloge des mauvaises herbes : Ce que nous devons à la ZAD (Les liens qui libèrent). To watch Lindgaard speak about whether local governments and stakeholders can step into the policy-making void, click here.

Une écologie décoloniale / penser l'écologie depuis le monde caribéen by Malcom Ferdinand (Le seuil, 2019)

This ground-breaking work, published in the excellent Le Seuil Anthropocene Series connects the ecological stakes of environmental destruction to the challenges we face as a post-colonial society. By uniting these crucial issues, the young researcher reveals a new way for humans and non-humans to live together that may save both our planet and our human dignity. To watch political scientist and philosopher Malcom Ferdinand speak about how politics, policies, and new economies can help us achieve environmental justice, click here.   

Vivre avec la terre - Méthode de la ferme du Bec Hellouin by Charles Hervé-Gruyer and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer (Actes suds, 2019)

Offering a unique and trail-blazing approach to caring for human and non-human forms of life, Vivre avec la terre describes a new form of agriculture that imitates natural ecosystems, produces nutritious fruits and vegetables, increases the fertility of soil, and constitutes a carbon sink. To watch Charles Hervé-Gruyer, who was recently awarded the sustainable development prize in Haute Normandie, speak about how we can change what we eat and how we grow it, click here.

Quand la forêt brûle : penser la nouvelle catastrophe écologique by Joëlle Zask (Premier Parallèle (2019)

The thought-provoking Quand la forêt brûle : penser la nouvelle catastrophe écologique (“When the forest is burning: reflection on the new ecological disaster”), explains how recent forest fires reveal the need to rethink our relation to the environment in order to achieve a sustainable future. Political philosopher and environmental studies expert Joëlle Zask studies the conditions necessary for democracy and a sustainable political and social system. To watch her discuss  the keys to implementing change and what it feels like to live amid both despair and hope, click here

Works in English

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben (Holt, Henry & Company, Inc., 2019)

Falter is “a direct, attention-grabbing sprint through what we’ve done to the planet and ourselves, why we haven’t stopped it and what we can do about it.” It is a powerful and sobering call to arms, to save not only our planet but also our humanity. Bill McKibben, the Curator of this year’s Festival Albertine, is an author and environmentalist who was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize in 2014, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’

On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein (Simon & Schuster, 2019)

On Fire investigates the climate crisis as a profound political, spiritual, and imaginative challenge. A rousing call to action for a planet on the brink, it delves into topics ranging from the clash between ecological time and our culture of perpetual now, to fortressed borders as a form of climate barbarism. To watch award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Naomi Klein speak about the gravity of this moment for our planet, click here.

Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, and Solutions (2nd edition) by Mark Z. Jacobson (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

This excellent textbook provides a comprehensive introduction to the history and science of the major air pollution and climate problems that the world faces today, as well as their energy and policy solutions. It is an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and adults curious about our planet. To hear civil and environmental engineer Mark Jacobson speak about how we can cut fossil fuel use to hit the targets set in the Paris Agreement, click here.

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore (University of California Press, 2018)

A book of “sweeping erudition,” A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things explains that crises historically prompt new strategies to make the world cheap and safe for capitalism. Proposing that modern commerce devastates the Earth, it offers a radical new way of understanding, analyzing, and reclaiming our planet in the turbulent twenty-first century. To watch award-winning writer, activist, and academic Raj Patel speak about how we can contribute to the climate fight by changing what we eat and how we grow it, click here.

Florida by Lauren Groff (Penguin Publishing Group, 2019)

The thrilling Florida brings readers into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes their gravitational center: an energy and mood, as much as a place of residence. To watch New York Times bestselling author Lauren Groff speak about how we can get people to care about the climate struggle, click here.

More Must-Reads To Prepare For the Festival

Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Polity Press, 2018, trans. by Cathy Porter)  / Où atterrir -- comment s’orienter en politique (La Découverte, 2017) by Bruno Latour

The masterful and revealing Down to Earth ties the political landscape of social inequality, environmental deregulation, and a distrust of globalization to ecological mutations and the climate crisis. It asserts that we need to reconsider what it means to belong to a territory and that politics should be envisioned with the entire Earth in mind. Bruno Latour is a French philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist, known as a vanguard figure in the eclectic field of "science studies."

L’Evénement Anthropocène (Seuil, 2013)  / The Shock of the Anthropocene (Verso, 2016, trans. by David Fernbach) by Jean-Baptiste Fressoz and Christophe Bonneuil

Through an informative and vital dialogue between science and history, L’Evénement Anthropocène questions how we arrived at the Anthropocene, a proposed epoch dating from the beginning of significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystem. Using clear and accessible language, it explores new, more Earth-centric ways to live that will increase our chances of future survival. Fressoz and Bonneuil are historians at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the latter edits the Anthropocène series for Editions du Seuil.

Capitalism, Socialism, and Ecology by André Gorz (Radical Thinkers, 2013, trans by Chris Turner)

Capitalism, Socialism, and Ecology explores the political agendas that faced both the right and left in the twentieth century, as technological developments transformed the nature of work and the structure of the workforce. It proposes that many social and environmental problems can be effectively resolved through the restoration of a self-fulfilling, socialist system of human activity. One of the leading social philosophers of the 20th century and a pioneer of political ecology, André Gorz served on the editing committee of Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Temps Modernes and co-founded the leftwing weekly Le Nouvel Observateur.

Nourishment: A Philosophy of the Political Body by Corine Pelluchon (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019, trans by Justin Smith)

The “original and importantNourishment draws upon phenomenological philosophies to argue that people’s dependence upon the natural world for survival is neither negative nor a sign of weakness. It calls for a new social contract between humans, animals, and the environment that advocates for animal welfare and ecological preservation. Award-winning author Corine Pelluchon is a French philosopher and professor who specializes in applied and environment ethics. 

The Unconstructable Earth: An Ecology of Separation by Frédéric Neyrat (Fordham University Press, 2016, trans by Drew Burk)

The “ambitious, imaginative, and provocative” The Unconstructable Earth is an “unflinching critique of geoengineering.” Rejecting the division of environment and culture and the technocratic delusion of Earth as a constructible object, it proposes an “ecology of separation,” which acknowledges the wild, subtractive capacity of nature. Frédéric Neyrat is a French philosopher and author who specializes in environmental humanities and contemporary theory.