Migration and Biopower: An Ecological Reading of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

  • Leandro Gomes Moreira Cruz Universidade Federal da Fronteira Sul (UFFS)
  • Claiton Marcio da Silva Universidade Federal da Fronteira Sul (UFFS)
Keywords: Thoreau, Walden, Bipolitics, Biopower, Anthropocene


This article discusses Thoreau’s Walden; or, Life in the Wood (1854) as an interpretative key to rethink contemporary relations between humans and nonhumans in ecological systems. While Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience came to be seen as his main political work sensu stricto, Walden’s socio-environmental criticisms has commonly been regarded as outside the scope of his political commitment. As this essay demonstrates, Thoreau’s social critique focused not solely on human life, but it widely encompassed the relevance of nonhuman beings, such as plants and animals or the pond’s ecosystem as a whole. Yet, how can such a critical discussion be adopted in order to reflect on the relations between humans and nonhumans in the current Anthropocene era? Informed by the critical tools of the environmental humanities and ecocriticism, we seek to expand Foucault’s concept of biopower to nonhuman beings through a critical reading of Thoreau’s Walden, what we consider as a cutting-edge attempt to present a less anthropocentric idea of ecological systems.