The Anthropocene poses an unprecedented challenge: the collapse of both our metaphysical grounds and the grounds of the earth itself. How do we think this present, in all its nihilism, catastrophe, mania, and potential? The apocalypse? A back loop? An already ‘unsafe operating space’? The end? The beginning?
This seminar will be an intensive exploration of the Anthropocene as a paradoxical threshold time of potential and catastrophe in which the grounds, parameters, and imaginaries are being upended. From the sciences to art, critical theory to popular culture, we will explore diverse understandings and responses that have emerged in recent years, highlighting those oriented toward the new and unprecedented nature of our epoch. We will consider how we as urban dwellers might respond to or live within the Anthropocene. What are the possibilities for being and acting today? What new spaces of experimentation might it open? What kind of futures can we imagine?
Throughout the seminar, we will explore urban ‘experimentation’ as a potent mode of living within and against the flotsam and jetsam of the Anthropocene. For this we will touch on a critical evaluation of the concept of ‘use’ as found in the works of Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, and Giorgio Agamben as a means of understanding how urban experiments appropriate and transform their worlds. From the diverse practices and technologies of resilient urbanism being developed in response to the new risks posed by climate change and its effects, to experiments in redefining what human bodies can do, we will discuss these different responses theoretically and philosophically and what they offer for thinking and living in this new epoch.
Homo sapiens have never lived at 400 parts per million (ppm) atmospheric concentration of CO2. We’re already in a new world. What now?
Thu, Jul 13, 201710:00 am to 12:00 pm
Fri, Jul 14, 201710:00 am to 12:00 pm
Stephanie Wakefield is an urban geographer and visiting Assistant Professor in Culture and Media at Eugene Lang College at The New School. She has written and organized extensively around the political and philosophical questions of the Anthropocene, exploring it as a threshold moment of both great potential and catastrophe. She is finalizing a book on the being, time and politics of oysters, ‘living infrastructures’ of urban resilience in post-Sandy New York. Her new research explores urban ‘experimentation’ as a mode of dwelling in the Anthropocene and emancipatory possibilities offered by the concept of the ‘back loop.’ Her work has been published in diverse venues including May, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Progress in Human Geography, and The Brooklyn Rail.
Braun, B. & Wakefield, S. (Forthcoming) “Destituent Power and Common Use: Reading Agamben in the Anthropocene,” Coleman, M. and Agne, J. Geographies of Power. Georgia, University of Georgia Press.
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Evans, B and Reid, J (2014) Resilient Life: The Art of Living Dangerously, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 1-37
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Nietzsche, F (1891/1961) Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One, London: Penguin, pp. 173-176 (Part III, 43. “The Wanderer”)
Rockström, J, et al (2009) A Safe Operating Space for Humanity Nature, 461, pp. 472-475.
Rockström, J (2017) “Beyond the Anthropocene” Presentation by Johan Rockström during World Economic Forum 2017
Sullivan, R (2015) “When Did the End Begin?” New York Magazine, June 15
Wakefield, S (2017) “Field Notes from the Anthropocene: Living in the Back Loop” Brooklyn Rail, June.
Wakefield, S (2017) Commentary on David Chandler and Julien Reid, The Neoliberal Subject: Resilience, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Society and Space, May 30, 2017. Rowman & Littlefield International, London.
Wakefield, S and Braun, B (2018) “Oystertecture: infrastructure, profanation and the sacred figure of the human,” Hetherington, K. Infrastructure, Environment, and Life in the Anthropocene. Durham, Duke University Press.
Wakefield, S (2014) “Man in the Anthropocene (as portrayed by the film Gravity),” May Revue 13.
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Zalasiewicz, J, et al (2008) ‘Are we now living in the Anthropocene?’ GSA Today, vol 18, no. 2, pp. 4-8
Steffen W, Crutzen J, McNeill JR (2007) “The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of Nature?” Ambio. 36(8), pp. 614-21.