Multiple African anthropocenes: universal concepts, local manifestations

Tilman Musch (University of Bayreuth)
Dida Badi (University of Bayreuth)
Social Anthropology
Appleton Tower, Lecture Theatre 4
Session slots:
Friday 14 June, 8:45 - 10:30
Friday 14 June, 10:45 - 12:30

Short abstract:

The panel seeks to pursue conceptualisations of the Anthropocene based on examples of local manifestations of the latter in Africa. Special interest is paid to the interplay of their connectedness to a universal concept and the disruptions of the latter which are due to their local diversity.

Long abstract:

The panel tries to contribute to the current debate around the Anthropocene, the supposedly new earth-age after the Holocene, which is characterized by a strong and still increasing human imprint. There are rigid definitions of the Anthropocene, linked to earth-system-science, as also more open and pragmatic ones, originating mainly in history, social science and philosophy, but also in ecology and conservation. According to such alternative and often interdisciplinary approaches, the Anthropocene has to be conceptualized in regard to two important features: 1. The main characteristics of the Anthropocene is that it represents the epoch where man became aware of his total dominance over the environment and also of his responsibility towards the earth; 2. contrary to the conceptualization of earth-system-science, we have to accept that there are multiple locally embedded and locally different Anthropocenes, as the human impact on the earth is not everywhere the same. The second feature leads us to situate the concept in the framework of connections and disruptions: on the one hand, multiple locally diverse manifestations of the Anthropocene represent disruptions of the whole "global" picture; on the other hand, however, such diverse manifestations are embedded in the universal concept of an earth-age dominated by man. We are interested in obtaining contributions referring to local Anthropocenes in Africa (i.e. concerning the imprint humankind left on nature, landscape, environment… in a precise locality) and which try, based on concrete examples, to pursue the conceptualization of the term.