Jane Bennett: Anxiety, Whitman, Sympathy

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Sasia Sasken: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy

Tania Li on food sovereignty and the politics of recognition

Johan Rockström: Human Prosperity within Planetary Boundaries

Given the recent interest in planetary boundaries from the recently published paper (see my previous post), which includes a response from the satirical site The Onion, I thought this piece would be of interest.

Michael Sandel discusses “Why Democracy?” at Westminster

An interesting conversation between a philosopher, parliamentarians and the public on BBC Radio.

Anthropocene and planetary boundaries: follow up

Last week I mentioned a few new items out on the Anthropocene and planetary boundaries. Here are a couple more items in the same vein.

The first is a new open access paper on the “Great Acceleration” from Will Steffen and others.

The second is Johan Rockstöm’s response to some of the responses to the planetary boundaries paper. The video is part of a larger MOOC, so this audience is worth keeping in mind as the main one.

Stefan Helmreich on Waves: an anthropology of scientific things

A newer video on Stefan’s latest project, which looks fascinating. For those interested in reading, HAU has put the transcript of the video is here.

Anthropocene roundup: silver spikes, planetary boundaries, conferences, and dissent

A few new articles and responses on Anthropocene related matters recently. The first is a new article in Quaternary International that proposes radiation from nuclear testing as well as plastics may be the most likely “silver spike” marking humanity’s signature in the geological record.

In addition, a new article on planetary boundaries was also published this week. This prompted a post in the NY Times on whether the “Great Acceleration” can be managed. And, promptly, responses from those who don’t think the planetary boundaries framework is sound.

Also, there are two conference calls out. One from the Earth Systems Governance project for an Anthropocene, Resilience and Democracy conference next December, here is the web link. The other I do not have a link for, but is on Capital and the Anthropocene (i.e. the Capitalocene) and is next summer in New York. I’ve posted details below. Both have submission dates for early March.

World Society, Planetary Natures: Crisis and Sustainability in the Capitalocene and BeyondBinghamton

University, July 10-11, 2015An international conference sponsored by the World Society Foundation
DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS IS MARCH 1, 2015
Since 2008, a broad consensus has emerged among scholars of global change: ours is an era of “converging crises.” Popularly expressed in the language of “triple crisis” – climate, energy, and finance – there is considerable uncertainty as to how these crisis-tendencies fit together, and if they are nearly so independent as the language of convergence suggests. If many scholars view the unfolding turbulence of the 21st century as an era of multiple crises, others have turned towards a different way of seeing crisis. This emerging alternative seeks to unify dimensions of human and extra-human natures in the world history of the present – as in the distinctive approaches of the Anthropocene and world-ecology perspectives. Through this different way of seeing, a crucial question has taken shape: Are we living the Age of Humans (the Anthropocene) or the Age of Capital (Capitalocene)?


World Society, Planetary Natures seeks to bring together scholars of global social change and global environmental change in the pursuit of new syntheses of “political economy” and “political ecology,” broadly conceived. The conference therefore privileges a double engagement: 1) with the core concerns of world-historical and global studies; and 2) with a broader multi-disciplinary community focused on global environmental change, past and present.
The conference pursues three major goals. First, we encourage a serious intellectual cross-fertilization between scholars engaged in the study of global social change and those engaged in the study of global environmental change. Second, the conference will facilitate a sustained exploration of the relations unifying the differentiated moments of 21st century crisis. These include not only the “triple crisis” argument, but comprise a wide range of crisis tendencies – such as food, inequality, employment, and social reproduction – as well as to the emergent possibilities of “commoning.” Third, the conference welcomes creative elaborations of globalization – in its manifold historical and contemporary expressions – as “ways of organizing nature.” In contrast to seeing neoliberalism as acting upon global natures, this alternative encourages a view of globalization as developing through the web of life. Such an alternative rethinks aspects of recent (and longue durée) world history as new human-environment configurations in which humans make environments, and environments enter into the constitution of power, re/production, and inequality. This entails the socio-ecological reconstruction of taken for granted “social” phenomena, such as the Washington Consensus, financialization, the European Union, or the rise of the BRICS. To investigate, analyze, and narrate historical change as if nature matters – as producer no less than product of capital and power – implies a much more decisive shift than commonly recognized: in our theoretical frames, methodological choices, and narrative strategies.


We welcome papers, panels, and proposals related – but not restricted to – the following topics:
The Financialization of Nature: Commodities, Carbon markets, Conservation, etc.

One, Two, Many “Sovereignties”: Food, Land, Energy, and Beyond

Planetary Urbanization: Cheap Labor, Unpaid Work, and the Crisis of Human Natures

Green Catastrophism and the Theory of Global Crisis

Narratives of Nature, Crisis, and Capitalism: Modernity and Climate Change

Scientific Revolutions and Capitalist Natures

Class Dynamics of Agro-Ecological Change, North and SouthCrises: Social, Ecological, or World-Ecological?

Ecology and Imperialism

The ‘Long’ Green Revolution: Renewal or Demise?

Culture as Ecology

Green Keynesianism and the Myth of Sustainability

Industrialization and the Production of Nature

Anthropocene or Capitalocene?New (and Old) Practices of Commoning

World-Literature and World-Ecology

Value, Nature, and Ontological Politics

Environmental Histories of Capital, Empire, and Commodities

Commodity Frontiers, Past and Present

The Environment-Making State

Markets, Trade, Investment: Does Nature Matter?Nature as Accumulation Strategy

Crises of Social Reproduction

Neoliberalism’s Crises… or Not?

Surplus Humanities

Climate and Capitalism: Two Crises or One?

Nature and Hegemony

Ecological Exhaustion and War
We welcome proposals for individual papers as well as paper sessions and panel discussions. Inquiries and proposals may be sent to: planetarynatures@gmail.com.
Venue: The conference will be held 10-11 July, 2015 at Binghamton University (USA).
Travel grants: The World Society Foundation sponsors a small number of travel grants for students and for participants from Africa, Asia, Latin-America and Eastern Europe (ISA country categories B and C). Travel grants will be allocated on the basis of a competitive assessment of full papers (of about 8.000 words) submitted. Deadline for submission of papers for travel grants is March 1, 2014; papers must be sent by e-mail to: planetarynatures@gmail.com. Applicants receiving travel grants will be notified before 15 April, 2015.
Publication: Outstanding conference papers will be published in a conference volume.
Conference Sponsorship: The main sponsor of the conference is the World Society Foundation (Zurich, Switzerland). In addition the conference is supported by the World-Ecology Research Network. For more information on the World Society Foundation and its activities, please check out the web site: http://www.worldsociety.ch/.
Organizing Committee: Christian Suter, Université de Neuchâtel; Diana C. Gildea; Jason W. Moore, Binghamton University.

Tim Ingold on the “Life of Lines” – Radio interview and new book

An interesting BBC Radio interview with Tim Ingold on Lines. Listen here.

The interview anticipates Ingold’s new book, The Life of Lines, which is due out soon. Here is a description from the publisher’s website:

9780415576864“To live, every being must put out a line, and in life these lines tangle with one another. This book is a study of the life of lines. Following on from Tim Ingold’s groundbreaking work Lines: A Brief History, it offers a wholly original series of meditations on life, ground, weather, walking, imagination and what it means to be human. * In the first part, Ingold argues that a world of life is woven from knots, and not built from blocks as commonly thought. He shows how the principle of knotting underwrites both the way things join with one another, in walls, buildings and bodies, and the composition of the ground and the knowledge we find there. * In the second part, Ingold argues that to study living lines, we must also study the weather. To complement a linealogy that asks what is common to walking, weaving, observing, singing, storytelling and writing, he develops a meteorology that seeks the common denominator of breath, time, mood, sound, memory, colour and the sky. This denominator is the atmosphere. * In the third part, Ingold carries the line into the domain of human life. He shows that for life to continue, the things we do must be framed within the lives we undergo. In continually answering to one another, these lives enact a principle of correspondence that is fundamentally social. This compelling volume brings our thinking about the material world refreshingly back to life. While anchored in anthropology, the book ranges widely over an interdisciplinary terrain that includes philosophy, geography, sociology, art and architecture.”

Sara Ahmed: Brick Walls: Racism & Other Hard Histories