Longing for the Past: An Analysis of Discursive Formations in the Greta Thunberg Message


  • Hanna Sjögren Malmö University




Climate change, Discursive formations, Modernity, Time, Greta Thunberg


This article studies discursive formations of climate change in texts by the contemporary climate activist movement’s most famous character, Greta Thunberg. This study critically analyses the Greta Thunberg message and discusses the kind of worlds her message evokes. In doing so, the author discusses what is being included in and omitted from contemporary public understandings of climate change. Three themes are identified and analysed in the Greta Thunberg message: science as truth; for the sake of the human child; and the apocalyptic futures and the evocation of the past. It is argued that the Greta Thunberg message makes sense because of how it resonates with a worldview related to the promises of modernity. Furthermore, one way of understanding the popularity of Thunberg’s message is that it evokes dreams of a world that once was. It is suggested that the Greta Thunberg message evokes longing for the past, rather than the possibility of existing in an already changing climate.




How to Cite

Sjögren, H. (2020) “Longing for the Past: An Analysis of Discursive Formations in the Greta Thunberg Message”, Culture Unbound, 12(3), pp. 615–631. doi: 10.3384/cu.vi0.1796.



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