AN03
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Space, mobility, scale: Life on a runaway and anthropocenic planet

Convenors:
Edward Simpson (SOAS)
Richard Fardon (SOAS)
Stream:
Anthropocene
Start time:
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Short abstract:

In a world of intensification, acceleration and climate concern, can the traditional paradigms, methods and epistemologies of social science be meaningfully used to interpret the world? Has the world changed faster than social science?

Long abstract:

Fifty years ago, Edmund Leach claimed the world was running away from 'us': the West had replaced god with science; however, we falsely laboured under the illusion that the laws of the universe were there for scientists to discover. Instead, Leach claimed, the laws were 'ours' to determine: it was time to take control of knowledge and invention and to realize that our actions have consequences. In 1999, Anthony Giddens saw a new 'runaway world' defined by globalization, risk and detraditionalization. Twenty years on, where are 'we' now? The Anthropocene: human activity as the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Carbon, energy and water politics top the agendas of failing international institutions. 'We' are part of a world of new geographies of decolonisation and nationalism, where colonialisms and imperialisms work through diasporas, infrastructure and finance markets. Theories of late- and neo-liberalism and of 'rebel cities' (Harvey), 'acceleration' (Rosa), 'overheating' (Eriksen), 'frictions' (Tsing), and 'geontologies' (Povinelli), to mention but a few, crowd our thoughts and feed a literature refining the paradigm shift called 'Anthropocene'. How, this panel asks, do anthropological and geographical theories scale the possibilities of relationship between something as large as a runaway world and the more intimately-known dimensions of everyday life as the focus of ethnographic study? Can the traditional paradigms, methods and epistemologies of social science be meaningfully used to interpret the world? Has the world changed faster than social science? We welcome papers addressing these themes.

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