Seminar Filtering the Anthropocene

Cluster Claiming

Anthropocene Campus, Illustration: Benedikt Rugar

A Seminar by Marco Armiero, Amita Baviskar and Will Steffen

The concept of the Anthropocene is a powerful lens through which to study human relationships with the environment. However, this lens is not a clear or neutral aid to understanding. It is colored by pre-existing ideas, values and interests. The Anthropocene lens acts as a “filter:” It emphasizes some elements of the social-ecological spectrum even as it screens out certain others. This process of selective framing is shaped by the politics of knowledge and the hierarchies that inform the constitution of expertise. It affects how issues are understood and acted upon. An awareness of these filters is essential for acting ethically and effectively in response to the challenges confronting us. How does the idea of the Anthropocene shape understandings and actions about human-environment relations? What ways of thinking and acting does it endorse and foster? What alternative understandings and actions does it marginalize or exclude? How does it affect different, unequally situated social groups?

This seminar addressed these questions by examining the implications of the Anthropocene idea in different social settings and biophysical landscapes. The seminar explored how the Anthropocene concept shifts attention between scales, from the local and the regional to the national and global. It analyzed how class, race, nationality and gender affect the relative positions assigned to social groups within the Anthropocene frame. The aim of the seminar was to equip participants to think carefully and critically about the concepts and methods of analysis that they deploy.

Listen to the Resumee Session on the Seminar “Filtering the Anthropocene”.

See also the case study on “Filtering the Anthropocene” presented during the opening weekend of the Campus by Marco Armiero and Will Steffen.