A Big Mood: Political Depression & Ecological Anxiety in Activists

Dr Natalie Osborne1

1Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia


Insert for yourself a sentence on the latest ecological and/or social crisis as a topic sentence for this abstract – the speed at which things unravel makes any reference to a particular event seem immediately dated. In any case, this work isn’t about a particular crisis – it’s about the experience of unravelling.

Political depression is an experience of impasse – our usual tools feel ineffective and unsatisfying. Ecological anxiety refers to an embodied experience of the fear of human impacts on the environment, and of already-existing and imminent system collapse. The affective entanglements, emotional geographies and politics of political depression and ecological anxiety are not well understood, though they are seemingly increasingly and widely felt.

This paper shares some early findings of ongoing, storytelling-based work on the emotional geographies of political depression and ecological anxiety amongst activists in Meanjin/Brisbane, including the roles of ruptures and refuges, the shifting timescapes of these geographies, and the science-fiction futuring work of community organising.


Natalie Osborne is a Lecturer in Urban and Environmental Planning in the School of Environment and Science at Griffith University. Her work explores social, spatial, and environmental justice in cities, radical spatial politics, public spaces, and emotional geographies. n.osborne@griffith.edu.au @DrNatOsborne

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