Earth Futures: Looking Forward in the Anthropocene through Geoengineering

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Studio 6, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Jennifer Rice, Deborah Dixon
Chairs: Jennifer Rice


Academics across the physical and social sciences, and the arts and humanities, are increasingly urged to ‘face the future.’ While the debate on whether or not the Anthropocene constitutes a defined epoch is ongoing, mitigation, adaptation and resilience have all been offered as key to how future generations live with the Anthropocene as a planet-wide condition wherein carbon capitalism has reshaped the ‘building blocks’ of Nature, from mined geologic strata to warming skies and acidified oceans; the finitude of resources and species, including humanity itself, looms large; environmental management has become allied with a ‘securing’ of ecosystems alongside trade and territories; planning the future has become a matter of anticipating crisis after crisis; and new futures built around care and responsibility are imagined.

We want to use this session as an opportunity to foreground research that sidesteps the ‘epochal’ nature of the Anthropocene, and seeks, instead, to engage with how the Anthropocene as a concept has been predicated upon the anticipation of Earth Futures, and has also served as a justification for the ushering in of new technologies and associated logistics and modes of governance that herald new Earth Futures. We are particularly interested in geoengineering, which, though its gaze is firmly on the far future, is very much of the present, insofar as while many efforts (space reflectors and albedo enhancement) are being realised in the laboratory or on the drawing board, others (afforestation and bio-energy production with carbon capture and sequestration) have reached experimental stages and are emerging in novel landscapes. A geoengineered future brings with it new ideas around citizenship, the role of the state, and the notion of the Earth itself as a geopolitical entity; and, is realized through new kinds of affective and emotive relations between people and their environs, and new narratives of what it means to shape the Earth.

Lines of inquiry might revolve around:

(1) The differing assumptions and visions underlying diverse geoengineering projects, how have these shaped the selection of solutions. How are particular ‘Future Earth’ scenarios problematized, anticipated and planned for?

(2) How the geography of geoengineering is shaped by the presence/absence of governance mechanisms at a variety of scales, from the lab to the globe, as well as by (cross)disciplinary expertise and imperatives.

(3) How geoengineering, and the landscapes it anticipates, reshapes notions of both the ‘human’ and the ‘environment’. How is this envisioned, experienced and narrated by differently situated people and communities?

(4) How a practice-led, experimental approach can interrogate the pervasive and emerging power relations that animate geoengineering, and respond creatively, as well as analytically, to the urgent challenges of climate change, Earth shaping, and emerging cultures of science.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Kevin Surprise Mount Holyoke College 20
Panelist Nigel Clark Lancaster University 20
Panelist Deborah Dixon University of Glasgow 20
Discussant Naomi Millner University of Bristol 20

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