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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


The Anthropocene (Climate Histories) offers alternating sessions in the related fields of climate history and Anthropocene studies. Meetings will involve a mix of invited speakers and reading group sessions held fortnightly on Thursdays, 1–2pm UK time on Zoom, meeting on the odd weeks of term. All are welcome!

Note: Most resources are available online through the University Library; if you have trouble locating them, please contact the organisers.

Organised by Claire Oliver and Richard Staley.

Lent Term 2021

21 January: Living with Gaia

  1. Latour, Bruno, and Timothy M. Lenton. 'Extending the Domain of Freedom, or Why Gaia Is So Hard to Understand.' Critical Inquiry 45, no. 3 (2019): 659–80.
  2. Todd, Zoe. 'An Indigenous Feminist's Take On The Ontological Turn: "Ontology" Is Just Another Word For Colonialism.' Journal of Historical Sociology 29 (2016): 4–22.

4 February: Dania Achermann (University of Bern)
'Going deep and scaling up: How ice core research has shaped climate understanding'

Much of today's knowledge about global climate behaviour draws on studies about past climate changes. Ice cores have become key study objects to reconstruct the climate changes of the last hundreds of thousands of years. Unlike sea sediment cores or tree rings, they can provide high temporal resolution of climate information and thus fill the otherwise vague deep past with concrete climatological events. Therefore, since its advent in the 1950s, ice core paleoclimatology contributed significantly to a temporal and spatial expansion of climate understanding far beyond human time scales. However, it has taken enormous technological, logistical and financial efforts to drill vertically into remote polar glaciers, transport the ice safely to the laboratories and translate proxy data into climate information. In my presentation I will shed light on the disciplinary and theoretical origins of this new vertical glaciology, discuss how it changed glaciological and climatological research practice, and analyse how it has shaped the temporal concept of global climate and climate change.

18 February: Science fiction and ecotopias

  1. Garforth, Lisa. 'Environmental Futures, Now and Then: Crisis, Systems Modeling, and Speculative Fiction.' Osiris 34, no. 1 (2019): 238–57.
  2. Kyle P. Whyte. 'Indigenous science (fiction) for the Anthropocene: Ancestral dystopias and fantasies of climate change crises.' Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 1 (2018): 224–242.
  3. Morgan, Ruth. 'Imagining a Greenhouse Future: Scientific and Literary Depictions of Climate Change in 1980s Australia.' Australian Humanities Review 57 (2014): 43–60.

Optional science fictions:

  1. Delillo, Don. Ch. 21, 'The Airborne Toxic Event,' pp. 107–56 in White Noise (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1998 [1985]) (An online copy is available here – the chapter in question is on pp. 51–75)
  2. Ballard, J.G. 'The Illuminated Man,' (1987) from The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard (New York: Norton, 2009)

4 March: Multispecies histories

  1. Tsing, Anna. 'The Buck, the Bull, and the Dream of the Stag: Some Unexpected Weeds of the Anthropocene'Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 42 vol 1 (2017): 3–21.
  2. Adams, Matthew, 'Between the whale and the kauri tree: multi-species encounters, indigenous knowledge and ethical relationality in the Anthropocene' in Anthropocene Psychology: Being Human in a More-than-human World (London: Routledge, 2020).


  1. Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt, Andrew S. Mathews, and Nils Bubandt. 'Patchy Anthropocene: Landscape Structure, Multispecies History, and the Retooling of Anthropology.' Current Anthropology 60, no. S20 (2019): S186–S197.
  2. Wolfe, Cary and Vincaine Despret. 'Foreword,' and 'Afterword: It is an entire world that has disappeared,' in Extinction Studies (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017).