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The History and Politics of the Anthropocene

May 17-18, 2013

School of Social Service and Administration

The Anthropocene is the name for the new geological era we now inhabit, marked by rapid anthropogenic climate change. It introduces the idea of the human species as a geological agent, capable of altering the physical and biological environment of the planet as a whole, through the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The concept of the Anthropocene is enjoying growing support among scholars concerned with climate change, but the implications of this idea for the humanities and social sciences remains to be explored in full. Hence the need for a conference which brings together researchers interested in the broader significance of the topic, particularly with reference to major problems of political thought and human history, including such topics as political sovereignty, economic growth, empire, human rights, population change, energy consumption, and climate justice. Time has also emerged as a problem of absorbing interest as the challenge of climate change requires us to think about the relationship between earth history, human history, and the history of life on the planet, histories that usually involve thinking on vastly different—and somewhat non-commensurable—scales. This conference will offer a dynamic and intensive conversation among scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences that are committed to the issue.


Dipesh Chakrabarty
History, University of Chicago

Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
History, University of Chicago


Alison Bashford
History, University of Sydney

Elizabeth DeLoughrey
English, University of California, Los Angeles

Clive Hamilton
Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University

Rosanne Kennedy
Gender, Sexuality, and Culture, Australian National University

Joseph P. Masco
Anthropology, University of Chicago

John McNeill
History, Georgetown University

Timothy Morton
English, Rice University

Eric Posner
Law, University of Chicago

Libby Robin
Environment and Society, Australian National University

David Weisbach
Law, University of Chicago

Jan Zalasiewicz
Palaeobiology, University of Leicester

Anya Zilberstein
History, Concordia University