The invention of nature: New book by Andrea Wulf on Alexander von Humboldt

Nature as a web of life!

Pressed from Jeremy Schmidt’s THE ANTHROPO.SCENE

Source: The invention of nature: new book from Andrea Wulf on Alexander von Humboldt

6a014e894ef9bd970d01b7c7771434970b-800wiThis looks like a fabulous new biography, and it’s already getting rave reviews. Here is a description, and hopefully a video…vimeo is always fussy about this stuff.

“The Invention of Nature” reveals the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today. Though almost forgotten today, his name lingers everywhere from the Humboldt Current to the Humboldt penguin. Humboldt was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether climbing the highest volcanoes in the world, paddling down the Orinoco or racing through anthrax–infested Siberia. Perceiving nature as an interconnected global force, Humboldt discovered similarities between climate zones across the world and predicted human-induced climate change. He turned scientific observation into poetic narrative, and his writings inspired naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth and Goethe but also politicians such as Jefferson. Wulf also argues that it was Humboldt’s influence that led John Muir to his ideas of preservation and that shaped Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. Wulf traces Humboldt’s influences through the great minds he inspired in revolution, evolution, ecology, conservation, art and literature.  In The Invention of Nature Wulf brings this lost hero to science and the forgotten father of environmentalism back to life.

Humboldt was, after all, as one contemporary said, ‘the greatest man since the Deluge’.

https://vimeo.com/93417125

Heat wave in Pakistan in June 2015: A comment

Early morning on 26 June PowerFM interviewed me for a few minutes in their news segment about the heat wave that south Pakistan was experiencing. For five days in a row temperatures reached low- to mid-40 degrees Celsius, leading to the deaths of over 2 000 people, and causing the prime minister of Pakistan to declare a state of emergency.

This has not been the first recent heat wave leading to such high deaths, and will highly likely not be the last:

  • In 2003 a heat wave hit Europe that killed over 50 000 people;
  • The 2010 Russian heat wave lead to the deaths of around 56 000 people; and
  • In May this year nearly 2 500 people died in India when temperatures reached above 45 degrees Celsius.

Heatwave as hell

(Source: Dave Granlund)

Whilst heat waves are already occurring more frequently in Europe, Asia and Australia, climate change is expected to lead to more hot days and warmer nights, and higher temperatures over nearly all land areas. The latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2014:19) found that it is “likely that human influence has more than doubled the probability of occurrence of heat waves in some locations”. Another study (Christidis et al 2015) found that human-caused climate change makes it ten times more likely than a decade ago for heat waves such as the 2003 one to occur in Europe again. Not only will heat waves occur more frequently in Europe, Asia and Australia due to climate change, but it is also expected to last longer and be more severe (Herring et al 214; Steffen et al 2014).

Like the radio interviewer (Lawrence Tlhabane), you might wonder how heat waves are related to climate change? Think of the striker of one of the top soccer teams. (For my niece I would have to make it Messi or Neymar). This player already scores many goals due to his talent and training; should he take performance-enhancing drugs, he is very likely to be even more on target and become immortalised as the best striker ever!

Messi & Neymar

(Source: FC Barcelona)

Global warming is the earth on performance-enhancing drugs; as the average temperature goes up, we’re more likely to experience frequent hotter days, and some areas are more likely to experience more heat waves. Thus, whilst it is not possible to say that a specific extreme weather event, such as the heat wave in Pakistan, is attributable to climate change, the scientific consensus is that extreme weather events (such as heat waves, floods and droughts) are more likely to occur with more intensity, due to climate change. Thus, it is likely for heat waves to occur more often, be higher in temperature and last longer.

What are some of the impacts of heat waves occurring more frequent and being more intense?

  • The most immediate impact of a heat wave is morbidity (illness) and premature mortality (death), as we have seen in Pakistan. We must remember our bodies’ normal temperature is 37-38C. Once it heats up to 39-40C, our muscles slow down and fatigue sets in. At 40-41C heat exhaustion and heatstroke is likely, and above 41C our bodies start to shut down, with risk of multiple organ failure (see BBC 2013). “In America on average over the last 30 years, excessive heat accounts for more reported deaths annually than hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and lightning combined.” (Adams). Various studies (quoted in Vescovi et al 2005) found the “strongest correlation factors between impacts of high temperature events on mortality and morbidity, and social factors include age (Besancenot 2002; Diaz et al 2002), poverty (INSERM 2003), social isolation (Besancenot 2002), and education level (Ballester et al. 1997). And a report released the end of June by The Lancet (Watts et al 2015) diagnoses climate change as ‘a medical emergency’, due to its health impacts.
  • Increased morbidity and mortality put pressure on existing health infrastructure. In Pakistan, for example, 14 000 people were seeking help at hospitals, and the mortuaries ran short of space (The New York Times 25 June 2015; News24 25 June 2015). In such a crisis it is likely that emergency staff will be overwhelmed and overworked by the scale of the crisis, also because such staff will themselves experience heat stress.
  • Current vulnerable social groups are more at risk than others to heat waves; for example, older people and children, those living alone, those with pre-existing diseases (especially cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses), those who are immobile, those suffering from mental illness, and the homeless and urban poor (due to the urban heat island effect). Such vulnerable people have limited adaptive capacity to deal with heat waves, and other extreme weather events.
  • Some argue that there is an association between heat waves / hot weather and social disturbances, unrest and crime – this remains debatable, and should rather be seen as speculative rather than definitive (see Anderson 1989; Anderson et al 1997; Cohn 1990, 1993; Field 1992; Rotton and Cohn 2000a, 2000b). In Karachi in Pakistan we saw sporadic protests blaming deaths on the government and the main power utility, after electricity blackouts (The Independent 25 June 2015; Time 24 June 2015).
  • But heat waves are likely to affect electricity supply. Not only is power outages more likely due to heat causing transmission lines to sag, but the increased demand for electricity to keep people cool through air conditioners further increase the likelihood of blackouts.
  • Another key service affected by heat waves is water services and infrastructure. Increased demand for water, combined with likely electricity outages, can lead to a crisis in water availability. Furthermore, the rise in water temperatures will reduce water quality, not only affecting human consumption and health, and increased cost to clean water, but fish populations and other organisms in the water ecosystem will also be affected.
  • Within the agricultural sector livestock may be affected, with, for example, milk production of cows being reduced; and wheat, maize and other plant growth being affected if a heat wave occurs at key developmental stages. Reduced harvests with have a knock-on effect on food security. With veldfires more likely in heat waves (refs), crops and grazing can be affected.
  • A warmer world, on average, means a more humid world (Huber & Gulledge 2011). In higher humidity our sweat don’t evaporate, and we feel hot and sweaty, thus increasing our discomfort. [Remember, in a heat wave there is little respite – the normal trend of cooler nights does not happen, combined with consecutive hot days.] Combined with labour power morbidity, reduced production is likely. In Pakistan, for example, an emergency was declared, with schools and government offices closed.
  • And, heat waves can lead to increased economic costs in transportation. In Pakistan, for example, road infrastructure was damaged. Railway tracks might bend, and mechanical failure in cars is likely due to stress on car cooling systems.

India road melting 2

(Source: The Huffington Post – from Hindustan Times)

In increased likelihood of occurrences of extreme weather events – such as heat waves, floods and drought – means that we have to look at mitigation. Two recent court judgements – one in the US and the other in the Netherlands – highlight this. In the US in King County a court asked the Washington state Department of Ecology to reconsider a petition by eight youth for state-wide reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions (Western Environmental Law Center 2015). And the end of June a Dutch court ordered the Dutch government to cut greenhouse emission by 2010 with 25% compared to 1990 levels, in order to protect its people from global warming (Nature 24 June 2015). But mitigation is not enough; we need adaptation as well. And adaptation requires that we reconsider the values that underpin our living in the age of the Anthropocene. In a recent research article Gina Ziervogel and colleagues (2014:615) argued that “Climate change adaptation requires forward-looking decision-making that marries scientific diagnoses and technical innovation with social organisation and political debate around competing value systems.” And in June Pope Francis wrote in an encyclical on the environment that “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods.” Indeed, climate change (and extreme weather events such as heat waves) is not only an environmental problem, but also a political, development, economic and social challenge.

List of references

Adams CR Impacts of temperature extremes. Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University:
Fort Collins

BBC (18 July) 2013 What happens to the body in extreme heat?

Christidis N, Jones GS & Stott PA 2015 Dramatically increasing chance of extremely hot summers since the 2003 European heatwaveNature Climate Change 5: 46–50. doi:10.1038/nclimate2468

Herring SC, Hoerling MP, Peterson TC & Stott PA (eds) 2014 Explaining extreme events of 2013 from a climate perspective. Special Supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95(9)

Huber D & Gulledge J 2011 Extreme weather and climate change: Understanding the link and managing the risk. Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions.

IPCC 2014 Climate change 2013: The physical science basis (Working Group 1 contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC). New York: Cambridge University Press

Nature 24 June 2015 Landmark court ruling tells Dutch government to do more on climate change

News24 25 June 2015 Pakistan morgues run out of space as heat wave kills 1 000

Steffen W, Hughes L & Perkins S 2014 Heat waves: Hotter, longer and more often. Climate Council of Australia.

The Independent 25 June 2015 Karachi heat wave: Death toll tops 1 000 as government and electricity company trade blame

The New York Times 25 June 2015 Death toll from heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan, hits 1000

Time 24 June 2015 Pakistan declares a state of emergency as heat wave death toll soars to nearly 800

Vescovi L, Rebetez M & Rong F 2005 Assessing public health risk due to extremely high temperature events: Climate and social parameters. Climate Research 30: 71-78

Watts N et al 2015 Health and climate change: Policy responses to protect public health. The Lancet

Western Environmental Law Center 2015 Washington State youth win unprecedented decision in their climate change lawsuit – Press release on 24 June

Ziervogel G 2014 Climate change impacts and adaptation in South Africa. WIREs Climate Change 5: 605-620. doi: 10.1002/wcc.295

Links on climate change: First half of 2015

In this post I curate a few links related to climate change research, that in some way relate to the focus of our research project on diverse knowledges on the relations between changing climate and water.

For a history of climate change science (until 2009), look at the OSS Foundation’s site.

On Wednesday the blog GlacierHub, about research and information on glaciers around the world, will be one year old – congrats, and thanks for sharing!

Interactions of drought and climate adaptation for urban water is the website of a project about drought management strategies to support urban water systems.

Read John Dryzek, Richard Norgaard and David Schlosberg’s book Climate-challenged society. The publisher writes about the book: “This book is an original, accessible, and thought-provoking introduction to the severe and broad-ranging challenges that climate change presents and how societies can respond. It synthesises and deploys cutting-edge scholarship on the range of social, economic, political, and philosophical issues surrounding climate change. The treatment is introductory, but the book is written ‘with attitude’, for nobody has yet charted in coherent, integrative, and effective fashion a way to move societies beyond their current paralysis as they face the challenges of climate change. The coverage begins with an examination of science, public opinion, and policy making, with special attention to organised climate change denial. The book then moves to economic analysis and its limits; different kinds of policies; climate justice; governance at all levels from the local to the global; and the challenge of an emerging ‘Anthropocene’ in which the mostly unintended consequences of human action drive the earth system into a more chaotic and unstable era. The conclusion considers the prospects for fundamental transition in ideas, movements, economics, and governance.”

There’s also Mike Hulme’s 2014 book, Exploring climate change through science and in society. It is an anthology of his essays, interviews and speeches from the late 1980s. His other books on climate change are Can science fix climate change: A case against climate engineering, and Why we disagree about climate change: Understanding controversy, inaction and opportunity

Another book is by Candis Callison, How climate change comes to matter: The communal life of facts. The publisher describes the book as: “During the past decade, skepticism about climate change has frustrated those seeking to engage broad publics and motivate them to take action on the issue. In this innovative ethnography, Candis Callison examines the initiatives of social and professional groups as they encourage diverse American publics to care about climate change. She explores the efforts of science journalists, scientists who have become expert voices for and about climate change, American evangelicals, Indigenous leaders, and advocates for corporate social responsibility. The disparate efforts of these groups illuminate the challenge of maintaining fidelity to scientific facts while transforming them into ethical and moral calls to action. Callison investigates the different vernaculars through which we understand and articulate our worlds, as well as the nuanced and pluralistic understandings of climate change evident in different forms of advocacy. As she demonstrates, climate change offers an opportunity to look deeply at how issues and problems that begin in a scientific context come to matter to wide publics, and to rethink emerging interactions among different kinds of knowledge and experience, evolving media landscapes, and claims to authority and expertise.”

For reviews of Naomi Klein’s book on climate change, This changes everything, read John Gray, or read Elizabeth Kolbert’s review, and Naomi’s response in The New York Review of Books.

slide_352590_3821132_free

(Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/07/niels-bugge-cartoon-award_n_5455509.html)

The Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup of the USA’s Third National Climate Assessment in 2014 released Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives.

Have a look at the presentation of the key findings related to Africa of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: What’s in it for Africa?

One of the research projects of the Centre for Science & Technology is about Knowledge, power and the coproduction of climate information for adaptation to climate change in Tanzania. The website describes the projects as follows: “Lisa Dilling, Meaghan Daly, Mara Goldman and Eric Lovell are conducting a project that aims to improve understanding of processes to effectively link climate information and adaptation at national and local scales in Tanzania. The approach is to explicitly recognise and examine the ways in which the varying epistemological traditions and relations of power among vulnerable communities, disaster management professionals, and climate experts influence the perceived value of climate information for improved early warning and climate adaptation. The primary research question is ‘what processes or institutions can support improved application of technical climate information to facilitate successful adaptation to climate related disasters?’ This research draws upon theoretical contributions from the fields of science policy, disaster research, science and technology studies, and political ecology to support a mixed-methods research approach to explore practices and modes of engagement that may best facilitate the production of usable science that can be successfully integrated within adaptation decision-making and policy development processes.”

Specific to South Africa, Gina Ziervogel and colleagues from mainly UCT has an article in WIREs Climate Change on Climate change impacts and adaptation in South Africa. The abstract of their paper states: “In this paper we review current approaches and recent advances in research on climate impacts and adaptation in South Africa. South Africa has a well-developed earth system science research program that underpins the climate change scenarios developed for the southern African region. Established research on the biophysical impacts of climate change on key sectors (water, agriculture, and biodiversity) integrates the climate change scenarios but further research is needed in a number of areas, such as the climate impacts on cities and the built environment. National government has developed a National Climate Change Response White Paper, but this has yet to translate into policy that mainstreams adaptation in everyday practice and longer-term planning in all spheres and levels of government. A national process to scope long-term adaptation scenarios is underway, focusing on cross-sectoral linkages in adaptation responses at a national level. Adaptation responses are emerging in certain sectors. Some notable city-scale and project-based adaptation responses have been implemented, but institutional challenges persist. In addition, a number of knowledge gaps remain in relation to the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of climate change. A particular need is to develop South Africa’s capacity to undertake integrated assessments of climate change that can support climate-resilient development planning.”

In the South African Journal of Science, there is an article on Observed and modelled trends in rainfall and temperature for South Africa: 1960–2010.

Have a look at the 2010 book by PG Alcock, called Rainbows in the mist: indigenous weather knowledge, beliefs and folklore in South Africa.

Interesting links: June 2015

Regarding climate change, June 2015 is about Pope Francis’ encyclical – see articles in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and Huffington Post.

Next week, 7-10 July, there will be an international scientific conference in Paris, called Our common future under climate change. Follow the conference twitter account @ClimatParis2015 and look at the hashtag #CFCC15.

Watch this short video on Meltwater Pulse 2B, by Peter Sinclair on recent research about Antarctic glacial melting.

Here’s another video, this time a talk by Charles Vörösmarty on Water in the 21st century: Sources of pessimism, sources of optimism (link seen on Jeremy Schmidt’s The Anthropo.Scene).

And then there is a video of a conversation between Ulrich Beck and Bruno Latour on cosmopolitics and re-thinking the nation-state. Beck starts by explaining his idea of metamorphosis, which is the topic of his new book The metamorphosis of the world: How climate change is transforming our concept of the world, to be released in January 2016.

See the call for papers for an international conference on political ecology, called Undisciplined Environments, on 20-23 March 2016. The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2015.

Prof Anna Tsing has a new book out in September, called The mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. The write-up on the publisher’s website states: “Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world—and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made? A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction. By investigating one of the world’s most sought-after fungi, The Mushroom at the End of the World presents an original examination into the relation between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth.”

The South African Department of Home Affairs has released a study on the local knowledge associated with the rooibos and honeybush species in South Africa. “The study has revealed that there is no evidence to dispute the claim by the San and the Khoi people of South Africa that they are the rightful holders of traditional knowledge associated with rooibos and honeybush. In light of the finding, the department therefore urges any individual or organisation involved in bioprospecting or biotrade using rooibos and honeybush species to engage with the Khoi and San communities or people to negotiate a benefit sharing agreement in terms of NEMBA and the BABS Regulations.”

“Liquid Power”: An interview with Erik Swyngedouw

Erik Swyngedouw on Liquid Power: “I mobilise H2O and Spain’s tumultuous socio-economic and politico-cultural transformations during the 20th century as a heuristic device. It is used as a methodological entry, and provides narrative anchors, for excavating the society-nature imbroglio in a way that transcends the binary conceptualisation of the nature-society relationship that has dominated (and plagued) much of environmental theory and practice during the 20th century. Moreover, the book demonstrates how socio-physical transformations unfold through myriad of interrelated social power relations and dynamics.”

ENTITLE blog

Erik Swyngedouw, Professor of Geography at the University of Manchester, on his new book, research experiences in Spain, Spanish literary inspirations and next research project.

9780262029032 The cover of Erik Swyngedouw’s new book, Liquid Power: Contested Hydro-Modernities in Twentieth Century Spain. Source: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/liquid-power

For most (urban) political ecologists, Erik Swyngedouw needs little introduction. Erik is a prolific writer and inspiring intellectual whose research over the past decades has focused on geographical political economy,  the governance, politics and economics of water resources and, more recently, interrogating the political. Two decades of research in Spain, from which many articles were written including an historical reading of the production of the Spanish waterscape and the role of desalinisation as a hydro-social fix, have culminated in Erik’s new book Liquid Power published by MIT Press. We recently asked Erik a few questions about his new publication, his research experiences in Spain, his Spanish…

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Understanding ‘climate change’ and related concepts

In the Anthropology Honours class about science and society that I am currently facilitating, we talked about climate change this week. If you want to understand the debates and issues related to climate change, you have to clearly differentiate between the various related concepts, such as weather versus climate, climate variability versus anthropogenic climate change, and global warming (in another posting I will add ‘changing climate’ to these concepts).

The most useful discussion on the difference between weather and climate most surely is from Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of Cosmos. He explains weather as the short-term (daily and weekly) highly unpredictable changes in atmospheric conditions (measured through quantities such as temperature, precipitation and wind), whilst climate is the longer-term (over years) ‘average weather’, that is more predictable. The analogy he uses of him walking with his dog is revealing: the meandering dog that is running around all over the place (though within the parameters of the leash he is on), indicates the weather. The steady progress of Neil, and the much-more straight path he is walking on, is the climate.

Weather vs climate _ Neil deGrasse

Source: http://plannedresilience.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/weather-climate.jpg

Weather then is short-term meteorological events in terms of days, weeks, and months. The popular definition of climate is from the World Meteorological Organisation that explains climate as “a statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant meteorological quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years.” The interactions between the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the lithosphere and the biosphere explains climate.

Whilst this natural science definition indicating the physicality of climate is crucial, the social understanding of climate is just as important. David Hulme (2015:175) states: “My argument is that climate—as it is imagined and acted upon [my emphasis] — needs to be understood, first and foremost, culturally and that the environmental humanities can enrich and deepen such an understanding.”

Another crucial distinction to make is between climate variability and climate change. Climate on earth has always been variable, meaning it had never been constant but has been changing due to various natural process, such as the earth’s tilting, volcanic eruptions, tectonic plate movement, eruptions on the sun, etc. The occurances of ice ages in previous millennia indicates such climate variability. Climate change though is climate variability due to anthropogenic (human-induced) causes; in this definition I am following the  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Such climate change is occurring, and thus only observable, over decades and centuries.

The main human-induced cause is rapidly increasing the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, leading to an enhanced greenhouse effect, that is causing the average temperature on earth to rise. And that then is global warming:  It is mainly through our burning of fossil fuels for our energy-hungry economies and lives, increased deforestation, and other land-use changes, that we are increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And this is leading to “overall warming of the earth, based on average increases in temperature over the entire land and ocean surface” (Davis 2011:16).

For further clarification of various climate change related concepts, see the FAO Climate Change and Bio-energy Glossary.

List of reference

Davis C (ed) 2011 Climate risk and vulnerability: A handbook for southern Africa. Pretoria: CSIR

Hulme M 2015 ClimateEnvironmental Humanities 6: 175-178

Interesting links: First half of 2014 (2) – Anthropology, ontology and the Anthropocene

This is a second post on interesting links I bookmarked in the first half of 2014 – all about anthropology, ontology and the Anthropocene.

Anthropology

I enjoy being reminded what anthropology is about; in the words of Ruth Benedict: “The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.”

I have bookmarked quite a few Tim Ingold activities. The first is an article in the Journal of Ethnographic Theory, called That’s enough about ethnography! Tim states in the abstract: “Ethnography has become a term so overused, both in anthropology and in contingent disciplines, that it has lost much of its meaning. I argue that to attribute ‘ethnographicness’ to encounters with those among whom we carry on our research, or more generally to fieldwork, is to undermine both the ontological commitment and the educational purpose of anthropology as a discipline, and of its principal way of working—namely participant observation. It is also to reproduce a pernicious distinction between those with whom we study and learn, respectively within and beyond the academy. Anthropology’s obsession with ethnography, more than anything else, is curtailing its public voice. The way to regain it is through reasserting the value of anthropology as a forward-moving discipline dedicated to healing the rupture between imagination and real life.”

Tim Ingold and Gisli Palsson edited a collection of anthropological essays on human life as becoming – out in 2013 – called Biosocial becomings: Integrating social and biological anthropology. Read the book review by Kim Ward in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Tim also talks about anthropology beyond humanity. And there is the plenary debate (at IUAES 2014 conference) involving him on humans have no nature; what they have is history. [As an aside, if you do not follow Jeremy Schmidt’s blog, called The Anthropo.Scene, do so – this is just one of many awesome links he posts regularly.]

Ontology and Anthropology

Much have been made recently about the ontological turn in anthropology – see the posting abut three types of pluralism, and read the interview with Michael W Scott about ontology and wonder.

On the blog Struggle Forever! is a blog posting on What ontology does for my anthropology. Jeremy Trombley highlights the following as what ontology does for his anthropology:

1) Ontology shifts my focus from texts to practices.

2) Ontology forces me to acknowledge the heterogeneity of existence.

3) Ontology makes me recognise the social, cooperative aspects of things.

4) Ontology makes me attentive to my own practices and the kinds of relationships that they compose.

Ghost on London undergroundImage source: http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/1qb2pr/how_london_deals_with_ghosts/

The Anthropocene

The new journal The Anthropocene Review is an inter-disciplinary journal on research relating to the Anthropocene.

Watch Elizabeth Povinelli talk about the four figures of the anthropocene.

Not directly related to the Anthropocene, but related to thoughts I have re natural-social sciences articulation, read a short synopsis of a conference called Circling the square, organised by the University of Nottingham’s Science, Technology and Society research group.