Envisioning Indigenous Models for Social and Ecological Change in the Anthropocene


  • James Fenelon California State University, San Bernardino
  • Jennifer Alford California State University San Bernardino




Indigenous peoples, earth science, environment, climate change, imagined world


Indigenous societies provide alternatives to hegemonic social institutions that global capitalism spread around the world, contributing to human caused environmental degradation called the Anthropocene, coterminous with the development of the modern world-system.  In this work we describe Indigenous communities using ten social spheres, that balance human needs through ecological mindfulness, including spirituality, and then we model how these social spheres can be adapted to contemporary world-systems using a radical imaginary, building off Indigenous works by Fenelon (2015; 2016), social perspectives of Pellow (2017) and Norgaard (2019), and environmental geospatial sciences (Lui, Springer, and Wagner 2008; Jankowski 2009). We identify four social constructs from Indigenous peoples—(1) decision-making, (2) land tenure and resource management, (3) economic and (4) community—which we model for societies in world-systems through the ten imagined social spheres, to present foundations that empower communities to resist the coming climate change futures of the Anthropocene.

Author Biographies

James Fenelon, California State University, San Bernardino

James Fenelon is the author of three books, numerous journal articles and chapters, mostly around the issues of Indigenous survivance / sovereignty, Native nations,  race and ethnicity, systemic racism and genocide in the modern world system, and Culturicide.

Jennifer Alford, California State University San Bernardino

Jennifer Alford is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, and Faculty Chair of the Water Resources Institute Advisory Committee at California State University, San Bernardino 


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How to Cite

Fenelon, J., & Alford, J. (2020). Envisioning Indigenous Models for Social and Ecological Change in the Anthropocene. Journal of World-Systems Research, 26(2), 372–399. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2020.996



Special Issue: World-Systems Analysis in the Anthropocene