From the Anthropocene to Postgenomics

Authors: Becky Mansfield*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Anthropocene, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Postgenomics, Anthropocene, Dualism, Politics, Science
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Chenier, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This talk introduces the series of sessions on the traffic between emerging ideas about “Postgenomics” and the “Anthropocene.” Postgenomic sciences increasingly figure bodies as malleable and responsive, not walled off from environmental influences but fully imbricated with them. Earth system sciences increasingly figure the planet, too, as malleable and responsive, not walled off from human activity but profoundly affected by it. Together these sciences challenge engrained gene/environment, human/nature, biological/geological, and living/non-living dualisms. The premise of these sessions is that these trends across the sciences are not merely parallel but are interconnected in both their historical and ontological claims. Historically, both sets of ideas are about how people now influence nature all the way down, whether planetary, ecosystemic, organismal, or molecular. Declaring the end of pristine nature, these emerging trends raise both hope and anxiety about the future of life. Ontologically, both not only treat nature as malleable, but assert that nature and humans are always already intertwined. It seems that we are in a moment when modern scientific dualism is being undone by modern science—and in ways that call into question not only what counts as nature but also what counts as human, and even what counts as life. This convergence raises questions about how, why, and with what effects these ideas are taken as the truth in this historical moment: what are the politics and associated practices of these emerging ideas.

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