Anthropologists Are Talking – About the Anthropocene
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2016
Pages: 535 - 564
Source ID: shanti-sources-79986
Collection: Anthropocene and the Environmental Future
Abstract: Love it or hate it, the Anthropocene is emerging as an inescapable word for (and of) the current moment. Popularized by Eugene Stoermer and Paul Crutzen, Anthropocene names an age in which human industry has come to equal or even surpass the processes of geology, and in which humans in their attempt to conquer nature have inadvertently become a major force in its destruction (Crutzen & Stoermer 2000; Steffen et al. 2011). This is the tragedy of the Anthropocene. But this tragedy also holds an odd, even schizophrenic, promise; namely the promise of scientific renewal and insight. For in the Anthropocene, nature is no longer what conventional science imagined it to be. And if the notion of a pure nature-an-Sich has died in the Anthropocene and been replaced by natural worlds that are inextricable from the worlds of humans, then humans themselves can no longer be what classical anthropology and human sciences thought they were. Arguably, the Anthropocene challenges us all to radically what nature, humans as well as the political and historical relationship between them might be at the end of the world, peppering its message of environmental doom with the promise of scientific renewal (and global survival) through trans-disciplinary collaboration. This bipolar message of a new science and a new politics amidst ruins is exhilarating for some, and seems to come at an opportune moment. Certainly, the notion that human lives and politics are producers of/produced by natural worlds gels with a growing attention within anthropology and neighboring disciplines to the diverse multispecies worlds that humans and non-humans cohabit. And yet, the Anthropocene may still be, as Bruno Latour puts it in...