Early Cities and Other Urbanisms

Galata bridge in Istanbul, bridging east and west, old and new. By Moyan Brenn [CC BY 2.0)]

Urban landscapes provide useful spaces for thinking through the complexities of the Anthropocene. They are hybrid locations in which the social and ecological Continue reading

Prospection and the Anthropocene

I’d like to share two recent items from the news that make a sobering pairing.

The first is an opinion piece in the New York Times by psychologist Martin Seligman and Times science writer John Tierny summarizing a new theory about human beings that emphasizes our orientation toward the future. Continue reading

A postcard from the future

Conversations about the Anthropocene inevitably involve questions about the future of the Earth and its inhabitants.  On this very blog, we’ve contemplated what the Anthropocene means in relation to Continue reading

The real inconvenient truth?

This will not be a very scientific post, but it is also not a rant. I am trying to understand something: why is there so little large scale planning and discussion about the inevitable and grave consequences of climate change?

There is a surprising amount of Continue reading

Mourning the Dodo: On Significant Otherness in the Anthropocene — Part 2


Pictured here is a “grolar,” one of the many arctic hybrids that are part of the “sexual revolution” going on in the Arctic due to climate change.

In my post last week I wrote about the Mass Extinction Monitoring Observatory (MEMO) currently under construction on the Isle of Portland off the southern coast of England.  This conceptually sophisticated project, led by the architectural firm of David Adjaye, offers a thoughtful means of linking local, global, and planetary histories of the extinction crisis while drawing attention to the fight to preserve the earth’s biodiversity.  As I noted last time, I’m deeply sympathetic to the idea of extending private grieving and collective mourning to include non-human earthly companions that have gone extinct or are gravely endangered.  But I’m uneasy about the MEMO project’s aspirations to becoming a world heritage site that rivals St. Paul’s Cathedral and other historical landmarks.  Such a stone monument seems like an odd nineteenth-century relic in a digital, networked world. Continue reading

Mourning the Dodo: On Significant Otherness in the Anthropocene — Part 1

We welcome Tom Lekan, of the University of South Carolina, as a guest on the blog . . . click for his bio, or go to the “Who we are” tab. This is the first installment of a two-part post; please come back again next week for the conclusion. Continue reading

Storytelling & Practices of Habitation (Pt. II)

Last summer I rode 2,500 miles across the country, interviewing people about “the sacred” and our human connection to land and place. This is the second of two posts about my experiences–if you want to start with the first one click here.
Continue reading

“Futurologists Look Back”

Sassaman, Kenneth E. 2012. Archaeologies, 8, pp. 250-268.
The gulf between indigenous and western experiences in the Americas may appear so vast as to obscure the relevance of knowledge about the ancient past to challenges of today. Yet, in imaging alternative futures, people of varied cultural dispositions find Continue reading

“Fingerprint, bellwether, model event: Climate change as speculative anthropology”

Whitington, Jerome. 2013. Anthropological Theory, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 308-328.

The climate change fingerprint, bellwether and model event are three epistemic figures through which it may be possible to know the future through attention to specific material relations. They offer Continue reading

Pitfalls and potentials in dating the onset of the Anthropocene

Just when (and how) did humans begin influencing the planetary system? Recent posts on this blog – notably those by Zev and Stephen on creation myths, Noah’s on cosmopolitanism, and David’s on Holocene climate – have spurred me to think about how delimiting a chronological date on the start of the Anthropocene influences how we think about habitability. Here I present some musings.

As initially conceived by non-archaeologists, the start of the Anthropocene was placed Continue reading