Accepted Paper:

the eleventh hour: climate crisis, obviation and retirement  

Author:

Tony Crook (University of St. Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

In After Nature, Marilyn Strathern reflects that ‘For one who perceives the world relationally, it is always the eleventh hour, the implosion of the evolutionary clock, the moment of terminal realisation’. This is an apposite moment in which to reflect on the changes upon us?climate crisis, obviation and retirement.

Paper long abstract:

In After Nature, Marilyn Strathern reflects that 'For one who perceives the world relationally, it is always the eleventh hour, the implosion of the evolutionary clock, the moment of terminal realisation'. Depictions of climate change increasingly dominate contemporary contexts and sustain the sensation of life itself at the eleventh hour?on the very threshold of momentous evolutionary change. After Nature suggested that the heat generating the 'greenhouse effect' derives from the claustrophobia felt when new bio-technologies enabled the conceptual collapse of nature and culture, from the anxiety of self-consumption through resource usage, and even dated the literalization of this 'outlandish metaphor' to 1989. Climate change thus appears as a contemporary, and man-made, phenomena and as the moral cause of our age?as if the greenhouse effect of cultural conceptual transformation can now literally be seen and scientifically verified by analysing ice-core records. An anthropological analyst may see the relation between the figurative and the literal, and yet an effect of symbolic obviation is to now conceal, and now reveal, the ground of relations for cultural practitioners. Similarly perhaps, Strathern's work in obviating the ethnocentric origins of social constructionism, in theorising symbolic form and in emphasising the method of the relation, might have brought anthropology to the threshold of momentous change. This eleventh hour is perhaps an apposite moment in which to reflect on the changes upon us, and on what it means for an anthropologist to perceive the world relationally.

Panel W065
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