Beyond anthropocentric futurism: Visualizing air pollution and waste in post-olympic Beijing

Alvin K. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues for the centrality of gender, sexuality, and geopolitics to ecocritical studies of the Anthropocene. In particular, the genre of documentary filmmaking provides one crucial site for exploring how cultural representations of the city of Beijing and environmental pollutions often recenter human-centric narratives of planetary rescue through what I term "Anthropocentric futurism." Anthropocentric futurism as a critical terminology names a double bind - while increasing numbers of cultural productions like literature, cinema, and the popular media explore human subjects as both the agents and passive "victims" under the Anthropocene, often such an ecological awareness automatically gives rise to a passionate human-centric discourse of planetary rescue. Specifically, I examine the widely popular 2015 documentary about air pollution, Under the Dome, directed by Chai Jing, as one that reproduces Anthropocentric futurism through the logic of maternal rescue, whereas Jiuliang Wang's Beijing Besieged by Waste (2011) radically departs from such reproductive futurism by visualizing the violent coevalness between the human subjects, non-human animals, inanimate objects, and the environment as such. Thinking beyond Anthropocentric futurism suggests new possibilities for theorizing the relationship between China and the Anthropocene through the lens of affect theory, animal studies, and posthumanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-143
Number of pages25
JournalConcentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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