Human/Non-Human Seminar
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Human/Non-Human Seminar

Human/Non-Human Seminar

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Birkbeck, University of London

Room B02

43 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PD

United Kingdom

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Pyrogeographies of the Anthropocene: Fire, Strata and Deep Trouble

The GEDS Human/Non-Human Working Group is pleased to host a seminar by Professor Nigel Clark (Lancaster University). Professor Clark’s work focuses on how social life is shaped and perturbed by physical forces. The idea of the `Anthropocene’ prompts us to see human beings as geological agents, but to also ask how our species acquired its geological agency: what physical forces we’ve tapped into and joined up with. Professor Clark is currently exploring how humans have used fire to transform `earthy materials’, and in the process how we’ve shaped our social and physical worlds. This leads to the question of what kinds of material and social experimentation we should be considering in times of rapid climate change. During record warm temperatures in 2016, forest fires in Alberta led to the evacuation of Fort McMurray – service centre for the Athabasca oil sands. Though mining operations were shielded by firebreaks, the collision of climate change with hydrocarbon exploitation was hard to ignore. In 2014, bushfire set alight Victoria’s Hazelwood open cut coalmine, pointing up Australia’s ambivalent positioning as the world’s leading coal exporter and as part of the front line of climate change-related extreme events. Meanwhile, Indonesia - world no2 coal exporter - struggles to contain its vast forest fire problem. This talk presents research with Lauren Rickards (RMIT) about fearsome and growing `synergies’ between climate-related extreme events and hydrocarbon extraction. More than just an issue of nature-culture entanglement, this `species of trouble’ summons us to think at once in terms of the circulations of the Earth system and the layering or stratification of our planet. Acknowledging the fraught and complex politics of the events in question, we also begin to ask what role frontline communities might play in renegotiating relationships with the strata and flows in question.

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2-4pm, Thursday, 2nd March, Room B02, Gordon Square.

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Birkbeck, University of London

Room B02

43 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PD

United Kingdom

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