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This panel explores how the concept of the Anthropocene might be refined and rethought through the study of post-carbon infrastructure.
This panel explores how the concept of the Anthropocene might be refined and rethought through the study of post-carbon infrastructures. The Anthropocene has recently captured the imagination of scholars in the social sciences and humanities providing a language for exploring entanglements of humans and earth systems. Yet its appearance as a concept derived from geological science risks flattening the social either by over-privileging humanity's role in global environmental changes, or by reducing humans to a generic 'species' effect. This has led some to critique the anthropocene, arguing for greater attention to be paid to power, politics, identity and difference.
In this panel we propose another route to rethinking the Anthropocene - through the anthropological and geographical study of post-carbon infrastructures. The recent study of infrastructure in geography and anthropology has generated important insights into the intertwining of materiality, politics, and the state, shedding light on neoliberalism, logistics, territoriality and state-power. But the development of infrastructure is also the primary means through which Anthropocenic effects are being tackled, and human/earth relations remade. From the construction of hydropower dams and 'unconventional' sources of carbon such as fracking, to the geological burial of nuclear waste and new demands for elements such as Lithium; from carbon capture and storage to the calculations required to manage underwater aquifers, post-carbon infrastructures are crucial places where relations between people and earth are being worked out. We invite papers that explore how these emerging infrastructures are remaking human/earth relations in a period of 'transition'.