Narrare: Centre for Interdisciplinary Narrative Studies at the University of Tampere
Invited speakers: Axel Goodbody (University of Bath) and Brian McAllister (Ohio University).
Since its coining in 2000 by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer, the concept of the Anthropocene has become a common buzzword in various disciplines, including the natural and social sciences as well as environmental humanities. Even though the International Commission on Stratigraphy is still debating the status of the Anthropocene as an official geological epoch, the term itself is now commonly used to reflect the planetary impact of collective human activity. In the discourse of the Anthropocene, the entire human species is situated as a geological force capable of inducing massive changes upon the biosphere of the planet.
In the humanities and social sciences, the recent introduction of a new planetary epoch has been typically approached as a narrative problem. For many scholars, the Anthropocene represents a new grand narrative where the abstract category of “humanity” is portrayed as a universal agent uniformly responsible for the Earth’s new geological regime. For others, it indicates a convergence of human and natural histories and suggests a new kind of entangled relationship between human and non-human agencies. From a narratological point of view, the Anthropocene also presents a crisis of scale: it demands a multifocal perspective on human actions as well as planetary ecology. The stories of the Anthropocene do not concern human beings alone, but the entire Earth and its inhabitants.
In this interdisciplinary symposium on narratives of the Anthropocene, we ask: What are the narratives of planetary-scale environmental change? What is the role of fictional and factual narratives in tackling the complex natural-cultural issues of the proposed geological epoch? In the age of the Anthropocene, whose story should “we” be telling, how, and to what purpose?