Life in Past and Coming Ruins: On living in the Anthropocene

Life in Past and Coming Ruins: On living in the Anthropocene

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Wenner-Gren Foundation

Presented By

Presented by the Anthropology Section

 

Speaker

Anna Tsing

University of California Santa Cruz

Have social scientists and humanists been too optimistic about life on earth?

Farming, fishing, and other human livelihoods have depended on the ability of forests, wetlands, oceans, and other multispecies ecosystems to rebuild themselves amidst repeated disturbances. I call such rebuilding “resurgence,” and I argue that humans as well as other species depend upon it. Yet industrial processes caninterfere with this kind of resurgence. This talk explores biological capacities brought into being by industrial processes—but outside human control. Think, for example, of industrially empowered pests and pathogens, from the virulent E. coli that emerged from beef-cattle feedlots to the algal blooms of sewage-saturated waterways. Thinking through fungi, my talk explores how industry sets loose feral forms that get in the way of the resurgence on which both humans and nonhumans depend.

Might it be useful to consider the forms of resurgence upon which we have historically depended “Holocene” forms now under threat from Anthropocene processes? Such Holocene resurgence is not over—but suddenly we have to fight for it. Furthermore, anthropological skills are needed. The threats I describe are neither universal nor limited to a single place; they travel. Anthropologists, I argue, are needed to investigate nonhuman as well as human Anthropocene travel, as this empowers still-mysterious feral biologies that are simultaneously local and global.

A dinner reception precedes the lecture at 6:00 PM

Registration Pricing

This meeting is free.

Travel & Lodging

Meeting Location

The Wenner-Gren Foundation

470 Park Avenue South, between 31st and 32nd Streets
8th Floor
New York, NY 10016