Imagining Futures in the Anthropocene: Eduardo Galeano’s Socioecological Model

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2017


This essay focuses on Eduardo Galeano, who addresses the colonial and postcolonial historical contexts needed to comprehend the current environmental crisis. Already in 1971, in his acclaimed Open Veins of Latin America, Galeano explored the links between capitalism, resource exploitation, and the degradation of local ecosystems, pointing out the divide between the Global North and the Global South: “The capitalist ‘head office’ can allow itself a luxury of creating and believing its own myths of opulence, but the poor countries on the capitalist periphery know that myths cannot be eaten.” His later works, specifically Upside Down (1998), “El derecho de soñar” (1999), and Úselo y tírelo (2004), continued to criticize capitalist systems, bringing into dialogue theories of degrowth as a postcolonial gesture. By promoting nonmaterial values, such as social relationships and appreciation of nature, Galeano calls for a shift from unlimited economic growth to a lifestyle of moderation and simplicity. Criticized for being a “naïve utopian clouded by sentimental ideals” (Fischlin and Nandorfy), he opens space for creativity and experimentation in the Anthropocene, the literatures of which have been dominated by dystopian visions of the future. In contrast to those cynical and bleak future scenarios that perpetuate despair and stagnation in the face of crisis, Galeano offers not only hope and inspiration, but also a social critique that can influence the course of concrete decision-making. One of the solutions to ecological crisis proposed by the author is the reduction of corporate production and consumption, which corresponds to the theory of degrowth. This essay demonstrates that Galeano’s vision is not utopian in the sense of an unreachable fantasy; rather, it is an instrument to guide society towards a sustainable future.


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