Call for Papers - History during the Anthropocene

Patrick Finney's picture
Call for Papers
February 28, 2020
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, European History / Studies, Intellectual History

We are soliciting papers for a theme issue of Rethinking History on history during the Anthropocene.

we may not experience ourselves as a geological agent, but we appear to have become one’ [Chakrabarty 2009]

Since the year 2000, the term ‘anthropocene’ has become increasingly embedded within the sciences, social sciences and humanities. It refers to the geological age we now inhabit, one in which the activities of humankind have fundamentally and permanently altered ecological dynamics on a global scale, through climate change, species loss, ocean acidification, plastics pollution, and the introduction of manmade chemicals into the biosphere. The cumulative effects of these changes cannot be reliably predicted; the extreme weather that is one consequence imperils the climatic stability upon which human civilisation has previously been thought to rely.

The theme issue will consider what the form and function of history can and should be at a time of profound rupture. The disruptive intrusion of the human world into the planetary balance, and the corresponding eruption of global systems into human social and political frameworks, undermines the distinction between human and natural worlds. Yet this distinction has long been the basis for the human sciences, and especially for an understanding of history as articulated through human experience. What would a non- or post-human history look like? At a time when the immense destructive power of human civilisation seems inversely proportional to our ability to achieve progressive change, who or what is the agent of history?  To what extent is it still possible to think in terms of cause and effect, when radical uncertainty and unpredictable global feedback are conditioning our present and future? Should the task of history be to try to recuperate some coherent story for humanity or to promote its undoing?

We welcome proposals for contributions interrogating these issues, whether in the form of standard articles, shorter interventions, or experimental pieces. The theme issue will be guest edited by the journal’s Social Media Editor, Laura Guillaume; all submissions will be subject to standard journal peer review.

In the first instance, we ask potential contributors to submit a 500 word abstract and a one page cv to

The timeline will be as follows:

Deadline for submission of proposals: 28 February 2020

Decisions on proposals communicated to potential contributors: 31 March 2020

Full papers to be submitted: 1 January 2021

Papers will be published online as soon as they have successfully passed through peer review; we hope to publish the full collection in one of our 2021 issues.

Contact Info: 

Patrick Finney

Department of International Politics

Aberystwyth University

SY23 3FE


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