Margaret Lock on The Embedded Psyche: The Anthropocene, Postgenomics and the Microbiome

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Kyle P. Whyte on Living Our Ancestors’ Dystopia: Indigenous Peoples, Conservation and the Anthropocene

New book from Christopher Preston: The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World

9780262037617I’ve long enjoyed reading Christopher Preston’s work on environmental ethics and look forward to this new book with MIT Press out later this spring.

The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World

Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World

We have all heard that there are no longer any places left on Earth untouched by humans. The significance of this goes beyond statistics documenting melting glaciers and shrinking species counts. It signals a new geological epoch. In The Synthetic Age, Christopher Preston argues that what is most startling about this coming epoch is not only how much impact humans have had but, more important, how much deliberate shaping they will start to do. Emerging technologies promise to give us the power to take over some of Nature’s most basic operations. It is not just that we are exiting the Holocene and entering the Anthropocene; it is that we are leaving behind the time in which planetary change is just the unintended consequence of unbridled industrialism. A world designed by engineers and technicians means the birth of the planet’s first Synthetic Age.

Preston describes a range of technologies that will reconfigure Earth’s very metabolism: nanotechnologies that can restructure natural forms of matter; “molecular manufacturing” that offers unlimited repurposing; synthetic biology’s potential to build, not just read, a genome; “biological mini-machines” that can outdesign evolution; the relocation and resurrection of species; and climate engineering attempts to manage solar radiation by synthesizing a volcanic haze, cool surface temperatures by increasing the brightness of clouds, and remove carbon from the atmosphere with artificial trees that capture carbon from the breeze.

What does it mean when humans shift from being caretakers of the Earth to being shapers of it? And in whom should we trust to decide the contours of our synthetic future? These questions are too important to be left to the engineers.

Graham Harman: Anthropocene Ontology

Rivers of the Anthropocene: new (Free!) book now available

This is a great looking new title, available here for free by the University of California Press. Regular UC Press site here.

9780520295025Rivers of the Anthropocene

Jason M. Kelly, Philip Scarpino , Helen Berry, James Syvitski , Michel Meybeck (Eds)

This exciting volume presents the work and research of the Rivers of the Anthropocene Network, an international collaborative group of scientists, social scientists, humanists, artists, policymakers, and community organizers working to produce innovative transdisciplinary research on global freshwater systems. In an attempt to bridge disciplinary divides, the essays in this volume address the challenge in studying the intersection of biophysical and human sociocultural systems in the age of the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch of humans’ own making. Featuring contributions from authors in a rich diversity of disciplines—from toxicology to archaeology to philosophy— this book is an excellent resource for students and scholars studying both freshwater systems and the Anthropocene.

Launch of Anthropocene Primer: open access platform

OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF DIGITAL OPEN ACCESS PUBLICATION AN ANTHROPOCENE PRIMER, Version 1.0
 
October 23, 2017
The IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute is proud to announce the official launch of An

Anthropocene Primer, Version 1.0 on October 23, 2017. An Anthropocene Primer is an
innovative open access, open peer review publication that guides learners through the complex

concepts and debates related to the Anthropocene, including climate change, pollution, and

environmental justice.
This born-digital publication (www.anthropoceneprimer.org) is a critical and timely resource for learners across multiple fields from academia, to industry, to philanthropy to learn about issues and topics relating to the Anthropocene, a framework for understanding environmental change that highlights human impact on earth systems.
An Anthropocene Primer was created to provide learners in museums, schools, non-profits, and formal research institutions with an entry point into some of the big concepts and debates that dominate discussions about the Anthropocene. The primer is not intended to be comprehensive (this is, after all, An Anthropocene Primer, not The Anthropocene Primer), nor is it intended to be didactic. The primer is a framework to guide individual and collaborative learning from the
beginner to advanced levels.
Version 1.0 of An Anthropocene Primer is available for open peer review from October 23, 2017 through February 1, 2018. Open peer review allows users to contribute to and engage with fellow readers and the authors as the editors develop it for a final print and open access ebook version. A video tutorial on how to participate in open peer review is available at www.anthropoceneprimer.org/index.php/videotutorials/.
Edited by Jason M. Kelly and Fiona P. McDonald, An Anthropocene Primer emerged from the “Anthropology of the Anthropocene” workshop (http://www.anthropologyoftheanthropocene.org) hosted by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute in May 2017. The participants from this workshop make up list of authors: Jason M. Kelly (IUPUI, USA), Fiona P. McDonald (IUPUI, USA), Alejandro Camargo (University of Montreal, Canada), Amelia Moore (University of Rhode Island, USA), Mark Kesling (The daVinci Pursuit, USA), Ananya Ghoshal (Forum on Contemporary Theory, India), George Marcus (University of California, Irvine, USA), Paul Stoller (West Chester University, USA), Dominic Boyer (Rice University, USA), Serenella Iovino (University of Turin, Italy), Rebecca Ballestra (Artist, Monaco/Italy), Eduardo S. Brondizio (IU, Bloomington), Jim Enote (A:shiwiw A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, Zuni, USA), Ignatius Gutsa (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Cymene Howe (Rice University, USA), Sue Jackson (Griffith University, Australia), Phil Scarpino (IUPUI, USA). This workshop was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the IU New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grant program.
Summary
An Anthropocene Primer is an innovative open access, open peer review publication that guides learners through the complex concepts and debates related to the Anthropocene, including climate change, pollution, and environmental justice.
Related Hashtags:
#iahi
#anthropoceneprimer
#anthropocene
#humanities
#environment
#openaccess
#socialscience
#collaboration
#iupui
 
Contacts:
 
Jason M. Kelly
Director, IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute
Associate Professor of History
IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute
Indianapolis, IN 46202
@jason_m_kelly
Fiona P. McDonald
Postdoctoral Researcher, IUPUI Arts &
Humanities Institute
IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute
Indianapolis, IN 46202
@fionapmcdonald

Dale Jamieson: Climate change at the frontiers of ethics

Consecrating Science: new book on science, myth, and the Anthropocene by Lisa Sideris

A title soon to be released that is worth adding to your “to read” list from Lisa Sideris, published by University of California Press. A bit of a preview of the book, and its engagement with the Anthropocene, uses of science, and so forth can be found here or in a great two part series on Surviving the Anthropocene here and here.

51RHgYLhujL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Debunking myths behind what is known collectively as the new cosmology—a grand, overlapping set of narratives that claim to bring science and spirituality together—Lisa H. Sideris offers a searing critique of the movement’s anthropocentric vision of the world. In Consecrating Science, Sideris argues that instead of cultivating an ethic of respect for nature, the new cosmology encourages human arrogance, uncritical reverence for science, and indifference to nonhuman life. Exploring moral sensibilities rooted in experience of the natural world, Sideris shows how a sense of wonder can foster environmental attitudes that will protect our planet from ecological collapse for years to come.

Spring (northern hemisphere) Anthropocene books out now or soon…

A few recently released or soon to be released titles (not counting my own) on various aspects of the Anthropocene.

1509519742Clive Hamilton’s Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene (Polity)

Humans have become so powerful that we have disrupted the functioning of the Earth System as a whole, bringing on a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – one in which the serene and clement conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing and we quail before ‘the wakened giant’.

The emergence of a conscious creature capable of using technology to bring about a rupture in the Earth’s geochronology is an event of monumental significance, on a par with the arrival of civilisation itself.

What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history and Earth history collide? Some interpret the Anthropocene as no more than a development of what they already know, obscuring and deflating its profound significance. But the Anthropocene demands that we rethink everything. The modern belief in the free, reflexive being making its own future by taking control of its environment – even to the point of geoengineering – is now impossible because we have rendered the Earth more unpredictable and less controllable, a disobedient planet.

At the same time, all attempts by progressives to cut humans down to size by attacking anthropocentrism come up against the insurmountable fact that human beings now possess enough power to change the Earth’s course. It’s too late to turn back the geological clock, and there is no going back to premodern ways of thinking.

We must face the fact that humans are at the centre of the world, even if we must give the idea that we can control the planet. These truths call for a new kind of anthropocentrism, a philosophy by which we might use our power responsibly and find a way to live on a defiant Earth.

Bruno Latour’s Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime (Polity)

0745684335The emergence of modern sciences in the seventeenth century profoundly renewed our understanding of Nature. For the last three centuries new ideas of Nature have been continuously developed by theology, politics, economics, and science, especially the sciences of the material world.

The situation is even more unstable today, now that we have entered an ecological mutation of unprecedented scale. Some call it the Anthropocene, but it is best described as a new climatic regime. And a new regime it certainly is, since the many unexpected connections between human activity and the natural world oblige every one of us to reopen the earlier notions of Nature and redistribute what had been packed inside. So the question now arises: what will replace the old ways of looking at Nature? This book explores a potential candidate proposed by James Lovelock when he chose the name “Gaia” for the fragile, complex system through which living phenomena modify the Earth. The fact that he was immediately misunderstood proves simply that his readers have tried to fit this new notion into an older frame, transforming Gaia into a single organism, a kind of giant thermostat, some sort of New Age goddess, or even divine Providence.

In this series of lectures on “natural religion”, Bruno Latour argues that the complex and ambiguous figure of Gaia offers, on the contrary, an ideal way to disentangle the ethical, political, theological, and scientific aspects of the now obsolete notion of Nature. He lays the groundwork for a future collaboration among scientists, theologians, activists, and artists as they, and we, begin to adjust to the new climatic regime.

Celia Deane-Drummond, Sigurd Bergmann, and Markus Vogt’s (Eds), Religion in the Anthropocene

9781498291910This book charts a new direction in humanities scholarship through serious engagement with the geopolitical concept of the Anthropocene. Drawing on religious studies, theology, social science, history and philosophy, and what can be broadly termed the environmental humanities, this collection represents a groundbreaking critical analysis of diverse narratives on the Anthropocene.

The contributors to this volume recognize that the Anthropocene began as a geological concept, the age of the humans, but that its implications are much wider than this.

Will the Anthropocene have good or bad ethical outcomes?

Does the Anthropocene idea challenge the possibility of a sacred Nature, which shores up many religious approaches to environmental ethics?

Or is the Anthropocene a secularized theological anthropology more properly dealt with through traditional concepts from Catholic social teaching on human ecology?

Do theological traditions, such as Christology, reinforce negative aspects of the Anthropocene?

Not all contributors in this volume agree with the answers to these different questions. Readers will be challenged, provoked, and stimulated by this book.

My new book! Water: Abundance, Scarcity, and Security in the Age of Humanity

FoylesI am very pleased to announce that my new book is out. Technically, Amazon and other outlets might not ship it until April 4th, but I saw it on the shelf at Foyles, and that is out in the wild enough for me.

There are descriptions on my site here, and at NYU Press here. From the NYU site the book can be purchased at a 20% discount using the code SPR17 at the check out.

I think the book will be of special interest to anthropologists and geographers in addition to those interested broadly about the history of ideas that have shaped water management. One of the key points of the book is that there was and remains a lot of traffic between the social sciences and policy makers, which hasn’t always proved positive for clear thinking about water, the state, and the academy. In fact, it is often failed strains of these disciplines that have the most effect on water management. So, in a way, the book is a history of losing ideas…ideas that lost both in intellectual circles by new ideas that surpassed them but also often lost from view. That is, these ideas that are alive and well in practice have gone virtually unaccounted for in the history of how water was managed to fit liberal societies to an account of geological agency that began in the 19th century and has carried through (indeed shaped) how water resources are understood in the Anthropocene.