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Accepted paper:

Perceiving Scales of the Anthropocene through the Mississippi River Basin. Reflections on Method in the Anthropocene Curriculum


Louise Carver (Lancaster University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the layering of scaled perspectives made perceptible through the interdisciplinary collective project: Mississippi: An Anthropocene River. It offers methodological reflections on the project's epistemic ambitions to read planetary changes through the Mississippi River basin.

Paper long abstract:

The Anthropocene Curriculum (AC) is an long term interdisciplinary project which has convened academics, artists and activists in curatorial and experimental research and pedagogical exercises into the Anthropocene since 2013. Its avowed goals are to cultivate experimental transdisciplinary collaboration to investigate how such epistemological experiments can help make readable the trans-scalar conditions and mutual independencies that comprise the Anthropocene. Recently, AC undertook an ambitious project involving hundreds of participants to negotiate the epistemic demands of reading planetary changes through the Mississippi River basin. Configured as a series of Field Stations striating the length of the river, "Mississippi. An Anthropocene River" sought to decipher the highly contested and lived realities of human impacts through the industrial and agricultural corridor of America. Participating within an independent, temporary and experimental research and publishing collective, documenting and mapping the events of the project, in this paper I will present some of my methodological thoughts arising from the experience. I will note, in particular, the observed effects and affects achieved through the convening of such a radically interdisciplinary and large collective fieldwork exercise. Refracted through the methodological, epistemological and political considerations that the project raises, specifically I will discuss its rendering legible the converging scales (temporal, geographic, political) of the Anthropocene at these sites—and the perspectives thus enabled. By exploring the layering of scaled perspectives made perceptible through this process, the paper discusses the potentials and pitfalls of collective institutional research and engagement experiments such as AC for enriching disciplinary experiences and knowledge the Anthropocene.

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(Re)scaling the Anthropocene