Life After the Anthropocene

An interdisciplinary seminar series for 2014-2015

Organisers

Jamie Lorimer and Jamie Castell

Theme

The Anthropocene heralds a new epoch, initiated once humans became a geological force. It marks a planetary event: the moment when the ‘earth system’ tipped out of Holocene. This transition jeopardises the conditions that enabled human flourishing and informs alarming predictions for the future of life on Earth.

The veracity, utility and nomenclature of this epochal scientific diagnosis are contested. But it nonetheless propels and intersects with recent political and intellectual events in the environmental humanities and social sciences. In particular the Anthropocene resonates with a shared consensus on the end of a ‘Nature’ defined by Human absence and of a figure of the ‘Human’ marked by biological exemption. Diverse scholars accept that there is nowhere Natural on earth, nor are there bounded Humans immune from the risks of biological and geological intimacy.

Nature and the Human have been central to modern Western thought. Their demise unsettles familiar conceptual foundations of human and nonhuman life and calls for new ways of living. Popular responses to these challenges track in two directions. The first and most prevalent encourages more modernisation. A final escalation of human domination, with ‘Man’ as the ‘God Species’ able to fully domesticate our unruly planet and its lifeforms. Better markets, new technology and rational administration are the prescription. The second advocates retreat. A return to Nature through a disavowal of any or all of the above forms of modernity. Its most misanthropic incarnations offer a world without us. Neither of these is sufficient.

This seminar series engages speakers and audiences in search of alternative forms of life and ways of living after the event of the Anthropocene. Taking this event as a provocation, it encourages forms of ‘multinatural’ and ‘more-than-human’ thought through which we might learn to love the monsters and nurture the multispecies ecologies of an inhabited posthuman planet. Cast off from Nature it will gather a diverse range of thinkers to offer imaginations of life after the Anthropocene, conceiving and performing new relations for a further future epoch.

The series will involve bi-weekly afternoon workshops with key commentators on the Anthropocene, followed by a keynote address. If you are interested in participating in these workshops please contact us below.

Confirmed speakers include Jane Bennett, Tim Ingold, Eben Kirksey, Thom van Dooren, Sarah Whatmore and Kathryn Yusoff. Please click below for the workshop programme (PDF):


An Anthropocene Reader

 

On the science of the Anthropocene

  • A useful introduction: Whitehead, Mark Environmental Transformations: A Geography of the Anthropocene Routledge, London (2014)
  • Rockstrom, Johan, Will Steffen, Kevin Noone, Asa Persson, F. Stuart Chapin, Eric F. Lambin, Timothy M. Lenton, et al. "A Safe Operating Space for Humanity." Nature 461, no. 7263 472-75.
  • Crutzen, P. J. "Geology of Mankind." Nature 415, no. 6867 (Jan 3 2002): 23-23.
  • Steffen, W., J. Grinevald, P. Crutzen, and J. McNeill. "The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 369, no. 1938 (2011): 842-67.
  • Thomas, C. D. "The Anthropocene Could Raise Biological Diversity." Nature 502, no. 7469 (2013): 7. (And see responses in the letters page of Nature)
  • Zalasiewicz, J. The Earth after Us: What Legacy Will Humans Leave in the Rocks? : OUP Oxford, 2008.
  • Zalasiewicz, Jan, Mark Williams, Alan Haywood, and Michael Ellis. "The Anthropocene: A New Epoch of Geological Time?". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 369, no. 1938 (2011): 835-41.
  • Zalasiewicz, Jan, Mark Williams, Richard Fortey, Alan Smith, Tiffany L. Barry, Angela L. Coe, Paul R. Bown, et al. "Stratigraphy of the Anthropocene." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 369, no. 1938 (2011): 1036-55.

Some popular responses

  • Ackerman, Diane The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us Norton and Company, New York (2014)
  • Brand, Stewart. Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto.  New York: Viking, 2009.
  • Kareiva, Peter. "Conservation in the Anthropocene." Breakthrough Journal 2 (2011).
  • Lynas, Mark. The God Species : How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans.  London: Fourth Estate, 2011.
  • Marris, E. (2011). Rambunctious garden: saving nature in a post-wild world. New York, NY, Bloomsbury USA.
  • McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature.  New York: Anchor Books, 1990.
  • Shellenberger, M., and T.  Nordhaus, eds. Love Your Monsters: Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene: Breakthrough Institute, 2011.
  • Vince, Gaia Adventures in the Anthropocene Chatto and Windus, London (2014)

In the humanities and social sciences

The Anthropocene Projekt at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

  • Castree, N. (2014). "The Anthropocene and Geography I: The Back Story." Geography Compass 8(7): 436-449.
  • Castree, N. (2014). "Geography and the Anthropocene II: Current Contributions." Geography Compass 8(7): 450-463.
  • Castree, N. (2014). "The Anthropocene and Geography III: Future Directions." Geography Compass 8(7): 464-476.
  • Chakrabarty, D. "The Climate of History: Four Theses." Critical Inquiry 35, no. 2 (2009): 197-222.
  • Clark, N. (2011). Inhuman nature : sociable living on a dynamic planet. Thousand Oaks, CA, SAGE Publications.
  • Colebrook, C. (2014). Essays on Extinction: Death of the posthuman. Open Humanities Press http://openhumanitiespress.org/essays-on-extinction-vol1.html
  • Orestes, Naomi and Conway, Erik The Collapse of Western Civilisation: A View for the Future  Columbia University Press, New York (2014)
  • Crist, E “On the Poverty of Our Nomenclature” Environmental Humanities, vol. 3, 2013, pp. 129-147
  • Dalby, S. "Biopolitics and Climate Security in the Anthropocene." Geoforum 49 (2013): 184-92.
  • Ellsworth, Elizabeth and Kruse, Jaime, Making the geologic now: responses to material conditions of contemporary life  Punctum Books, New York (2014).
  • Gibson-Graham, J. K. "A Feminist Project of Belonging for the Anthropocene." Gender, Place & Culture 18, no. 1 (2011): 1-21.
  • Hamilton, C. Earthmasters: Playing God with the Climate. Allen & Unwin, 2013.
  • Keulartz, J. "The Emergence of Enlightened Anthropocentrism in Ecological Restoration." Nature and Culture 7, no. 1 (2012): 48-71.
  • Latour, B “War and Peace in an Age of Ecological Conflicts” available online at http://www.bruno-latour.fr/article
  • Lorimer, J. "Multinatural Geographies for the Anthropocene." Progress in Human Geography 36, no. 5 (2012): 593-612.
  • Morton, T. (2013). Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World, University of Minnesota Press.
  • van Dooren, T. (2014). Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction, Columbia University Press.
  • Yusoff, K. "Geologic Life: Prehistory, Climate, Futures in the Anthropocene." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31, no. 5 (2013): 779-95.

 

List of site pages