Anna Tsing is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Niels Bohr Professor at Aarhus University in Denmark, where she is the director of the Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene. She is the author of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton, 2015).
Abstract for Professor Tsing’s presentation: As the concept of the Anthropocene—the world condition of human-caused environmental catastrophe—spreads across regions and disciplines, while taking on questions of environmental justice, the importance of spatially specific analysis becomes ever clearer. What about history—denied in an early and influential essay by Dipesh Chakrabarty? This talk uses the collaborative project Feral Atlas to consider how historians might approach the Anthropocene, both within and beyond the bounds of disciplinary business as usual. The talk addresses these and more questions: (1) How do we address the planetary element of Anthropocene history? (2) At what points should we acknowledge radical breaks in landscape and human histories? (3) What happens when we recognize nonhumans as fully historical—and thus mutable actors in the making of more-than-human histories?
If possible, please spend 45 minutes with Feral Atlas before the talk. Click “Enter” to get to the landing page. Click the three parallel lines at the bottom of the landing page screen for initial instructions for how to use the site (or just play). Clicking the rotating brass key at the upper left of each screen takes you to the index of indices. The first screen is an interactive index listing all the field reports; scroll over the name of a feral entity and click the author’s name to go directly to a field report. (For reports by professional historians, you might begin with water hyacinth [Iftekhar Iqbal], yellow fever virus [John McNeill], and radioactive blueberries [Kate Brown]). Scroll down in the index to find the introductory and framing essays for the project. (See, for example, Sven Beckert on Capital.) The talk will discuss the conceptual architecture of Feral Atlas as it might contribute to building historical analyses of the Anthropocene. Your familiarity with the project will make a difference.
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