Alternatives to the Anthropocene: CFP for special issue in Radical History Review

See the full Call for Papers here; a blurb is posted below.

Key deadlines: June 1 for abstracts, November for full papers.

A Call for Proposals from the Radical History Review

Issue number 145
Abstract Deadline:
 June 1, 2021
Co-Edited by Ashley Dawson and A. Naomi Paik

This issue seeks submissions that examine the voices of those who fought against the development of the Anthropocene, the geological age in which human activity has dominated the climate and environment. By “alternatives to the Anthropocene,” we invite discussion of at least three connected topics: the Anthropocene as a technocratic, scientific designation of our current epoch; the limits of this approach to periodizing the last 500 years; and the social movements that have challenged the extractive capitalism essential to this epoch. The issue thus presumes that the Anthropocene resulted not simply from world-changing technological innovations like the steam engine. Rather, it resulted from multiple political defeats that consolidated capitalist and colonialist modernity. We invite contributions that highlight struggles for environmental, social, and technological alternatives to the forces that produced the Anthropocene. Essays should examine these histories of resistance that might construct fruitful genealogies for the present environmental crisis and produce a more open and political reading of environmental history.

We seek submissions that offer new insights into what Joan Martinez Alier and Ramachandra Guha call “the environmentalism of the poor,” which has resisted the colonial, capitalist histories that have wrought epochal environmental destruction. How would environmental history transform if we centered the environmentalism of the poor? What are the cultural and political expressions of such environmentalisms in diverse historical and geographic circumstances? What continuities link movements across time and space?  We welcome contributions on any time period. We particularly seek work that contests dominant readings of the Anthropocene as a post-1800 phenomenon and centers environmental history that examines the beginning of the era of European colonial expansion.

Possible topics include:

  • Modes of resistance of diverse “environmentalisms of the poor”
  • Transnational political solidarities constellated around resistance to the Anthropocene
  • Explorations of existing historiographic schools that excavate overlooked popular environmentalisms, like Subaltern Studies
  • Alternative modes of production to colonial/capitalist modernity, including traditions of Indigenous peoples and people of African descent
  • Environmental impacts of slavery and racial capitalism, including environmental engagements of the Black radical tradition
  • Alternative theories to the “Anthropocene” grounded in resistance movements, like “Plantationocene.”
  • Critiques of the scholarly formulation of the Anthropocene, like interventions from Black feminist critiques of geology or Indigenous critiques of the Anthropocene’s temporality
  • Analysis of alternatives to imperialist movements around nature like “conservation” and “preservation”
  • Alternative genealogies for contemporary resistance movements like Blockadia and the Green New Deal

We encourage contributions from historically under-represented groups. Procedures for submission of articles: By June 1, 2021, please submit a one-page abstract summarizing the article as an attachment to with “Issue 145 Abstract Submission” in the subject line. By July 15, 2021, authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their article for peer review. The due date for full-length article submissions will be in November 2021.

Please send any images as low-resolution digital files embedded in a Word document along with the text. If chosen for publication, you will need to supply high-resolution image files (at a minimum of 300 dpi) and secure permission to reprint the images. Those articles selected for publication after the peer review process will be included in issue 145 of the Radical History Review, scheduled to appear in January 2023.

Pratik Chakrabarti: Is Deep History White?

John McNeill: The Industrial Revolution as Global Environmental History

Dipesh Chakrabarty: The Decline and Prospect of Universal History

Catherine Malabou: The Brain of History or the Mentality of the Anthropocene

Donald Worster on Wilderness: From the American West to the World

Naomi Oreskes – Man as a geological agent: historical and normative perspectives on the #anthropocene

Martin Rudwick’s new book: Earth’s Deep History

Martin Rudwick’s Bursting the Limits of Time represented a major work in historical geology; An interesting video on geology and the genesis account below, as well as news he has a new book due out next week:

9780226203935Earth’s Deep History (University of Chicago Press)

Earth has been witness to mammoths and dinosaurs, global ice ages, continents colliding or splitting apart, comets and asteroids crashing catastrophically to the surface, as well as the birth of humans who are curious to understand it all. But how was it discovered? How was the evidence for it collected and interpreted? And what kinds of people have sought to reconstruct this past that no human witnessed or recorded? In this sweeping and magisterial book, Martin J.S. Rudwick, the premier historian of the earth sciences, tells the gripping human story of the gradual realization that the Earth’s history has not only been unimaginably long but also astonishingly eventful.

Rudwick begins in the seventeenth century with Archbishop James Ussher, who famously dated the creation of the cosmos to 4004 BC. His narrative then turns to the crucial period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when inquisitive intellectuals, who came to call themselves “geologists,” began to interpret rocks and fossils, mountains and volcanoes, as natural archives of Earth’s history. He then shows how this geological evidence was used—and is still being used—to reconstruct a history of the Earth that is as varied and unpredictable as human history itself. Along the way, Rudwick defies the popular view of this story as a conflict between science and religion and reveals that the modern scientific account of the Earth’s deep history retains strong roots in Judaeo-Christian ideas.

Extensively illustrated, Earth’s Deep History is an engaging and impressive capstone to Rudwick’s distinguished career.  Though the story of the Earth is inconceivable in length, Rudwick moves with grace from the earliest imaginings of our planet’s deep past to today’s scientific discoveries, proving that this is a tale at once timeless and timely.

Simon Schaffer: Enlightened Knowledge and Global Pathways

Donald Worster – Second Earth: thinking about environmental history on a planetary scale