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Anthropocene Histories

This seminar explores the historical matrix of the ‘Anthropocene’, the proposed (and contested) geological epoch marking the earth system’s profound alteration by human activities. Proposed dates for the Anthropocene range from 50 to 10,000 years ago and this seminar takes a similarly wide perspective, both chronologically and disciplinarily.

Online- via Zoom.
Monthly, Tuesdays 15:30-17:00 GMT
Anna Echterhölter (Vienna), Sophie Page (UCL), Amanda Power (University of Oxford), John Sabapathy (UCL) and Sujit Sivasundaram (University of Cambridge).

In the humanities and social sciences, the idea of the Anthropocene has become a powerful, if controversial, tool opening up different ways of thinking about humans, their environments, resource extraction, relations with non-human life, form of violence, the global, and the shape of the past. Our seminar accordingly explores the issues and possibilities raised for historians by ‘the Anthropocene’. The specific question of the Anthropocene’s arguable stratigraphic markers is not our primary focus, rather we will contribute to larger conversations by giving a thicker and more nuanced history to an idea often thinly-situated in politicised readings of modernity. Accounts of the Anthropocene need to address the ‘great acceleration’ of biochemical change arising from European colonialism, industrialisation and the fossil fuel era, but must be equally concerned with the deep-rooted histories of these processes, their institutions, and their supporting ideologies, from the earliest polities to the present.

Catch up on the the sessions so far on the podcast page.

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