CFP: American Society for Environmental History, Washington, D.C., March 18-22, 2015

Thomas Lekan's picture

Panel: It’s the End of the World as We Know It: Environmental Governance in the Anthropocene

This panel invites papers that explore environmental values, environmental protest, or international environmental governance in the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene describes a new geological epoch dominated by human-induced geophysical changes at all scales, from carbon emissions in the atmosphere to radionuclides in the Arctic.  While the Earth’s departure from the Holocene has yet to be confirmed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, scholars in numerous disciplines—including the environmental humanities—have adopted the concept to analyze the ecological, philosophical, and theoretical ramifications of the collapsing division between natural history and human history that began with the industrial revolution and accelerated rapidly after 1950.  According to Timothy Morton, the dawn of the Anthropocene has already ended the "world" in the phenomenological sense, rendering both denialism and apocalyptic environmentalism obsolete.  

Environmental historians have contributed excellent works on the local, nattional, and international environmental governance, yet the Anthropocene poses "wicked" new problems at each of these scales. Is our knowledge of the Anthropocene too new and speculative to be of interest to environmental historians, or does it invite explorations of "deep history" that encompass the geophysical?  Can historical investigations of the “environmental management state” be stretched to encompass resilience and adaptation to a post-Holocene world?  How will the Anthropocene reshape ongoing debates about climate justice—what does it mean to speak of the “human” as a geological terra-former in a world divided by sharp inequalities of wealth and the legacies of imperialism?

Please send a 250-word abstract and brief biographical sketch to Thomas Lekan at lekan[at]sc.edu by June 15, 2014.