Objective 2: Figuring out ‘the Anthropocene’

Our project tries to figure out how Anthropocenic formations, knowledge and politics are experienced, reshaped and produced in multiple contexts. We thus aim to make a timely ethnographic contribution to nascent cross-disciplinary studies of the Anthropocene—one that underlines both its ‘lumpiness’ and its epistemological, conceptual and political effects.

This project grapples with the Anthropocene on two levels. First, building on current efforts to theorize Anthropocene ontologies, it will explore how a diverse range of Anthropocenic forces and developments—from forest fires to oil palm ecologies—are experienced, encountered and engaged with in various contexts on the ground. Second, we critically examine ‘the Anthropocene’ as a ‘problem space’ (Moore 2015) built around historically and culturally specific assumptions that generate and organize particular realities, relations, politics and imaginaries. One of our main interests is how the truth-claims of Anthropocenic discourses and politics are deployed, contested or ignored. It asks, for example: What forms of Anthropocenic reasoning are adopted by conservationists, governments and publics to account for certain events (e.g. forest fires, a rescued orangutan) and apportion blame? What becomes framed as an Anthropocenic problem, and what solutions does it demand?

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