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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay reviews much of the recent scholarship on the concept of agency, delineating its relevance for theorizing an inclusive and progressive ecological politics. Mindful of the intimacy between questions of agency and ontology, the essay urges the advantages of conceptualizing agency as collective, embodied, distributed, and emergent within discursive-material assemblages. In contrast to more traditional approaches that treat agency as a singularly human characteristic, this essay looks to identify agential capacity in both humans and non-humans and the interactions among them. It is argued that such an approach offers greater traction in tracing the discursive-material circuits of power and the theorizing of collective forms of responsibility than do traditional conceptions. The essay concludes with a brief example of wildfire to illustrate the advantages of the recommended approach.

Keywords: agency, agential capacity, collective responsibility, embodied agency, distributed agency, discursive-material assemblages, ecological politics, ontology

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