Monday, August 15, 2016

Lecture - The Geological Turn: The Anthropocene and how we tell history

Thursday, September 29, 3:30 in Seminar Room 1, Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Scientists tell us the Earth has entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. What we are facing is not only an environmental crisis, but a geological revolution of human origin. In two centuries, our planet has tipped into a state unknown for millions of years. Human history and Earth history are now commensurable and entangled. Beyond environmental history, what does this geological turn do to historical research? After decade of a "social-only" paradigm in the social sciences and humanities, how can we explore and tell the joint history of human societies and of the Earth system?

Stories matter for the Earth. The stories that the elites of industrial modernity have told themselves have been cultural drivers of the new geological regime we now live in. Similarly the kinds of stories we today tell ourselves about the Anthropocene can shape the kind of geo-historical future we will inhabit. The talk will cross-examine some key grand narratives of the Anthropocene (a mainstream naturalist narrative, a post-nature narrative, an eco-catastrophist narrative, and an eco-Marxist narrative) and reflect upon how history (and history of science) can be written and told in a new epoch.

Christophe Bonneuil is a Senior researcher in history of science, science studies and environmental history at the Centre Alexandre Koyré  (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. His research explores the co-evolution of ways of knowing and ways of governing nature and the Earth. He has recently published a global environmental history of the Anthropocene (The shock of the Anthropocene. The Earth, history and us, Verso, 2016, with J-B. Fressoz) and edited The Anthropocene and the Global Environmental Crisis : Rethinking Modernity in a new Epoch, (Routledge, 2015, with C. Hamilton and F. Gemenne).

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