Starting up


Here are a couple of initial readings to get us going.

  1. Zalasiewicz, J., M. Williams, W. Steffen, P. Crutzen, “The New World of the Anthropocene,” Environmental Science & Technology Viewpoint 44.7 (2010), 2228-31.
  2. Chakrabarty, D., “The Climate of History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35.2 (2009), 197-222.

And some recommended background reading (which we might decide to focus more closely on, or not).

Please let me know if you aren’t able to access any of these.


One response to “Starting up

  1. Talking points from our class discussion (written up by Kay Gee):

    Today’s discussion engaged fodder for intriguing discussions on several topics. We discussed two articles- The New World of the Anthropocene, by Zalasiewicz et. al, and The Climate of History: Four Theses by Dipesh Chakrabarty. Our discussion started with the former article, as it offered concise geological background on delineation of eras. The idea that the Anthropocene is the only era that has actually been lived in as it is being examined brings unique complexities to research about it, such as uncertainty of boundaries of the era. Consideration of the linear conception of an era (of which the Anthropocene is but a fragment of previous eras) and the importance of acceleration of geological change in defining the Anthropocene were also topics of focus. The unique time relation involved in geological study brings up both complexity and an almost deeper validity to research in this area.

    Chakbaraty’s Climate of History engages in the human/natural history divide (albeit a strictly Western stance), and how the implications of an Anthropocene call for a merger of these two histories into a collective “we”. It is precisely this human/nature divide that has created circumstance for the Anthropocene to even exist (through degradation of the natural world), and one may only hope that a return to this “we” may serve to begin to right these Anthropocentric wrongs. The introduction of the industry/freedom divide in relation to the natural/human history divide sparked musings about the roles that the Industrial Revolution and Capitalism play in the Anthropocene. Colonial conditions influence on modernity played a key role in the acceleration of natural world effects created by humans. The inevitable progression to capitalism these conditions created insists on humans inextricable impact on the natural world.

    I will leave you with the final thought we entertained, which requires much more inquiry than we had time for: Humans are not the first organisms to completely alter the atmosphere, and most likely will not be the last.

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