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The Anthropocene as a Cosmological Turn

Carlsberg Foundation Monograph Fellowships

What

As urgent as it may be, the discussion of global warming as the greatest ever threat to human civilization is but one example that the overall ‘climate’ on Earth is changing to such an extent that survival is at risk. This issue should be understood within the wider context of the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene forms the common denominator for a wide array of realizations that an all-decisive threshold in the history of the Earth and humankind is being crossed: Human activities are gaining overarching importance and beginning to play a dominant role in key processes of the earth system. This alters the material conditions of subsistence for human beings so radically that the ground on which humankind has stood is quaking.

Why

An overarching framework for understanding the significance of climate change, environmental strains and other global Grand Challenges, the Anthropocene is among the most important and wide-ranging questions of our time. Our very being and role in the world is at stake.

The project argues that a previously unexperienced, intimate and precarious relationship between humankind and the Earth is established which existing literature fails to recognize insofar as it maintains a sharp divide between human beings and nature. The close interaction between humans and earthly nature that constitutes both implies a new conception of the order of the world and of the role of humans within it. This change in cosmology affects the relationship between scientific disciplines, politics and morality.

How

The book will be based upon textual evidence from and bring together insights from a broad range of scientific disciplines, such as geology, paleobiology and atmospheric chemistry; Earth System Science, oceanography and biology; demography and environmental history; history and geohistory; geography and human geography; sociology, economics and political science; science studies, anthropology and philosophy.

Within the framework of Foucault’s problematization analysis, a well-established method for analyzing the emergence and significance of binding problematic experiences in the world, the book will combine methodologies from several disciplines.

SSR

The project addresses a most pertinent contemporary question of global societal relevance. The change in cosmology has consequences for human and scientific responsibility for sustaining both humans and nature, as well as for agency, strategy and governance. Contributing with a framework for relating responsibly to the Anthropocene, the study also generates new applicable knowledge and suggestions for action.