At The Anthropocene Campus

The Anthropocene as the biospheric « age of man » - The cultural transition

The Anthropocene Campus is coming to an end after 10 days of debate in Berlin, November 14-22.
Jointly organized by the Max-Planck Society and the HKW, the advanced curriculum stretched across 9 SEMINAR TOPICS organized in bundles and concluding into cross-topics :

REPRESENTING (Slow Media, Modelling Wicked Problems, Imaging the Anthropocene)

CONNECTING (Disciplinarities, Valuing Nature, Technosphere / Coevolution)

CLAIMING (Geo-Politics, Filtering the Anthropocene, Anthropogenic Landscapes).

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This is the first high level assemblage of scholars across the world bringing together all disciplines on “what is the anthropocene and where it goes” ? The question of the age of man on the planet Earth, is - according to me – primarily about the place of man in the biosphere. The geological contextualization is accessory. It tackles the cultural shift from envisioning Nature as gift to that of Nature as sink. It is about the cultural and material footprint of our species that translates into biospheric debt because it consists in breaking up the contract with the community of species, a co-evolutionary enterprise, the Natural Contract. But also the contract between humans, the Social Contract. The syndrome of this double dumping is based on systemic “forcings”, possibly written in the species “collective epigenome” : the cultural evolution and imprint through which the incommensurable Nature and the immoderation of man have come to a cross-road. At the cross-road, the Great Acceleration that started in the 1950s and its landmark, the so called “free” market economy, deeply thriving on the double dumping, the socio-ecosystemically subsidized business-as-usual [1], Green Capitalism included [2].

Put it differently and by exploring the common wisdom [3], the high-speed anthropocene (some call it “anglocene”) is about
When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money”.
If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going / Don’t Stop”.
The Future Is Not What It Used To Be”.

The last example ? The 30 % drop in the price of oil these days.

I therefore conclude that the “American way of life” - the illusion of wants and haves, for everybody, anywhere, anytime - is negotiable.
Resources geopolitics and social justice, environmental responsibility, cultural acceptance, what else ?

The difficulty stems from that we are, individually and collectively, resource-minded and resource-centred. Because we have forgotten or we are ignoring or even overshadowing the ideas and the political lessons of the 2nd World War, summarized in the combined conclusions of the three conferences organized by Roosevelt : Breton-Woods, Hot Springs, Philadelphia [4].

To our hypertrophied immoderation, “beyond measure” (démesure in French) cultural imprint, Plato has long pointed out the challenge : the primary virtues ought to be metron / to metrion (the measure), to summetrion (the proportionate), the accomplishment, the sufficiency, the adequate, the beauty. And somewhere behind, the intelligence [5].
Valuing nature [6] to ensure maintaining humanity’s life support systems [7] goes hand in hand with maintaining socially sustainable societies on those grounds. Stated differently, the idea can be summarized as “health of the people, the society, and the ecosystems”. And work out the next contract, the inclusive diversity-rich Social-Cultural-Natural Contract. This is what primarily the Anthropocene Campus is about. To have the big picture of the cultural revolution in sight, follow the developments on [8].

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Ioan Negrutiu November 22, 2014
Illustrations : Benedikt Rugar

Article publié ou modifié le

12 décembre 2014


[1Dasgupta, P, “The Place of Nature in Economic Development” In : Rodrik, D. & Rosenzweig, M. (eds.) : Handbook of Development Economics 5 (2010) : 4039-5061

[2Sullivan S, "Green Capitalism, and the Cultural Poverty of Constructing Nature as Service Provider", Radical Anthropology 3 (2009) : 18-27.

[4Collart Dutilleul F, "The law pertaining to food issues and natural resources exploitation and trade", Agriculture & Food Security (2012):1-6.

[5Maggiori R, Mètres du monde, Libération, Novembre 20, 2014

[6Sabine Höhler, Rafael Ziegler, "Nature’s Accountability : Stocks and Stories", in : Nature’s Accountability, theme issue Science as Culture 19 (2010) 4, pp. 417-430.

[7The scientists consensus statement on "Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century".