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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 And if the notion of a pure nature-an-Sich has died in the Anthropocene and been replaced by natural worlds that are inextricable from the worlds of humans, then humans themselves can no longer be what classical anthropology and human sciences thought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...
Living on a damaged planet challenges who we are and where we live. This timely anthology calls on twenty eminent humanists and scientists to revitalize curiosity, observation, and transdisciplinary conversation about life on earth. As human-induced environmental change threatens multispecies livability, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet puts forward a bold proposal: entangled histories, situated narratives, and thick descriptions offer urgent “arts of living.” Included are essays by scholars in anthropology, ecology, science studies, art, literature, and bioinformatics who posit critical and creative tools for collaborative survival in a more-than-human Anthropocene. The essays are organized around two key figures that also serve as the publication’s two openings: Ghosts, or landscapes haunted by the violences of modernity; and Monsters, or interspecies and intraspecies sociality. Ghosts and Monsters are tentacular, windy, and arboreal arts that invite readers to encounter ants, lichen, rocks, electrons, flying foxes, salmon, chestnut trees, mud volcanoes, border zones, graves, radioactive waste—in short, the wonders and terrors of an unintended epoch.Contributors: Karen Barad, U of California, Santa Cruz; Kate Brown, U of Maryland, Baltimore; Carla Freccero, U of California, Santa Cruz; Peter Funch, Aarhus U; Scott F. Gilbert, Swarthmore College; Deborah M. Gordon, Stanford U; Donna J. Haraway, U of California, Santa Cruz; Andreas Hejnol, U of Bergen, Norway; Ursula K. Le Guin; Marianne Elisabeth Lien, U of Oslo; Andrew Mathews, U of California, Santa Cruz; Margaret McFall-Ngai, U of Hawaii, Manoa; Ingrid M. Parker, U of California, Santa Cruz; Mary Louise Pratt, NYU; Anne Pringle, U of Wisconsin, Madison; Deborah Bird Rose, U of New South Wales, Sydney; Dorion Sagan; Lesley Stern, U of California, San Diego; Jens-Christian Svenning, Aarhus U.
How might one responsibly review a field just coming into being—such as that provoked by the term Anthropocene? In this article, we argue for two strategies. First, working from the premise that the Anthropocene field is best understood within its emergence, we review conferences rather than publications. In conference performances, we glimpse the themes and tensions of a field-to-come. Second, we interpret Anthropocene as a science-fiction concept, that is, one that pulls us out of familiar space and time to view our predicaments differently. This allows us to explore emergent figurations, genres, and practices for the transdisciplinary study of real and imagined worlds framed by human disturbance. In the interplay and variation across modes for constructing this field, Anthropocene scholarship finds its shape.