60 research outputs found

    The evolution of the Anthroposphere: Historicizing Geoanthropology

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    After briefly introducing the ongoing debate about the Anthropocene from an interdisciplinary point of view—with a focus on the lack of common ground among different scholarly communities in addressing the Anthropocene as a geo-cultural notion—the article attempts to frame geoanthropology as a novel interdisciplinary approach that can help overcome tensions between the sciences and the humanities. It does so by providing two examples of geoanthropological investigation: first, the experimental project Anthropogenic Markers; second, an attempt to historicize geoanthropology through the exploration of historical efforts to perceive nature as integrated with humanity. The first case, Anthropogenic Markers, shows some of the historical contexts, epistemic settings, and conceptual contributions of Anthropocene geology, thus exploring ways of combining the anthroposphere and the geosphere without losing sight of the different local and political contexts. The second case introduces the concept of ‘epistemic evolution’, crucial to understanding geoanthropology from a historical perspective, and combines it with the notion of the ‘noosphere’, particularly in the elaboration provided by Russian geochemist Vladimir I. Vernadsky. The noosphere is described as a new phase of biosphere evolution in which humans have become aware of their ability to reshape the Earth, especially through the invention of modern technologies. In this respect, the noosphere is characterized by the emergence of a new awareness that integrates cultural and geological forms of agency in their epistemic and co-evolutionary aspects. The noosphere appears as a global process oriented towards understanding the world as an integrated system, which is a precondition for any attempt to rematerialize and rebalance the role of humanity in the Earth System

    Chapter 4 Planetary environing

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    Anthropocene; Environment and sustainability; Environmental humanities; Environmental media; Indigenous; Media studie

    Between 'Biosphere' and 'Gaia'. Earth as a Living Organism in Soviet Geo-Ecology

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    This paper focuses on some aspects of Russian naturalism that were crucial to the development of a systemic and cybernetic approach to earth sciences in the Soviet Union. The author seeks to connect Soviet perspectives to the wider context of global ecology by examining three main topics: the intersection between environmentalism and research addressing holistic ecology; the attempt at a unification of biology and geology, encouraged by V. I. Vernadskij's "pre-Gaian" concept of Biosphere as a living organism; and, the emergence of Cybernetics which accompanied the rise of a systems ecology with its implicit global understanding of environmental problems. By discussing genuine differences in styles of thinking among Russian scientists compared to Western scientists, the article is an attempt to argue that Russian science is better situated to develop an appreciation of holistic phenomena and is more conducive to interdisciplinary work than Western science, and consequently has been the source of some of the most original ideas in ecology

    Planetary Environing: The Biosphere and the Earth System

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    This chapter counterposes the biosphere and the Earth system as two notions that help reveal the different ways in which Earth was environed over the second half of the 20th century. Inscribed in the work of the Russian mineralogist Vladimir Vernadsky, the biosphere is depicted as a global dynamic system characterized by the all-encompassing human impact on the Earth’s biogeochemistry. By stressing co-evolutionary processes involving the biosphere and the geospheres in which living matter merges with human technological systems and their geophysical properties, Vernadsky’s theory suggests that a human-reconfigured biosphere has transformed our planet from the inside. Contrary to this interpretation, the Earth system notion that took hold in the early 1980s primarily acknowledged the Earth as an object to be experienced from the outside. George Evelyn Hutchinson and James Lovelock in particular promoted a vision of the biosphere that is indebted to the idea of the Earth as visible from space. This view emerged from the convergence of ecological discourses and cybernetics, which acted as an important trigger for the rise of the Earth system concept. The conceptual tools of the Earth system and the biosphere resulted from processes of environing media that created radically different views of the planet. Together, they can be seen as a paradigmatic example of how different media create different environmental epistemologies. This chapter shows that the recognition that human processes have pushed the Earth into the Anthropocene, imposing new directions on Earth system processes from the inside. Such a recognition revives the biosphere as a protagonist of the Earth system, prompting us to re-evaluate historical attempts to conceptualize biosphere genealogies and the history of a human-reconfigured biosphere

    The globalization of science diplomacy in the early 1970s: a historical exploration

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    The early 1970s brought fundamental transitions in international scientific collaboration that significantly affected the international relations in global patterns that are still relevant today. This article uses a multi-perspective approach to argue that the underlying condition for the globalization of science diplomacy was the increasing participation of recently independent countries in international technoscientific affairs, examining critical research areas, including space exploration, oceanography, nuclear technoscience, the environmental sciences, and health and population studies. Themes emerged at that time that continue to characterize what we term ‘Global Science Diplomacy’: multipolarity, resistance and agency, lack of global consensus, regional alliances and interests, and the centrality of the United Nations system to the conduct of transnational science. This survey is a first step in historical reflection on this phenomenon and shows that it was the emergence of the Global South in Science Diplomacy affairs that made Science Diplomacy global at the beginning of the 1970s

    The Evolution of the Anthroposphere

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    After briefly introducing the ongoing debate about the Anthropocene from an interdisciplinary point of view—with a focus on the lack of common ground among different scholarly communities in addressing the Anthropocene as a geo-cultural notion—the article attempts to frame geoanthropology as a novel interdisciplinary approach that can help overcome tensions between the sciences and the humanities. It does so by providing two examples of geoanthropological investigation: first, the experimental project Anthropogenic Markers; second, an attempt to historicize geoanthropology through the exploration of historical efforts to perceive nature as integrated with humanity. The first case, Anthropogenic Markers, shows some of the historical contexts, epistemic settings, and conceptual contributions of Anthropocene geology, thus exploring ways of combining the anthroposphere and the geosphere without losing sight of the different local and political contexts. The second case introduces the concept of ‘epistemic evolution’, crucial to understanding geoanthropology from a historical perspective, and combines it with the notion of the ‘noosphere’, particularly in the elaboration provided by Russian geochemist Vladimir I. Vernadsky. The noosphere is described as a new phase of biosphere evolution in which humans have become aware of their ability to reshape the Earth, especially through the invention of modern technologies. In this respect, the noosphere is characterized by the emergence of a new awareness that integrates cultural and geological forms of agency in their epistemic and co-evolutionary aspects. The noosphere appears as a global process oriented towards understanding the world as an integrated system, which is a precondition for any attempt to rematerialize and rebalance the role of humanity in the Earth System. Keywords: Anthropocene, Historical Geoanthropology, Noosphere, Vladimir I. Vernadsk

    Carbone. Ses Vies, ses oeuvres [Carbon. Its lives, its works]

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    Carbone joins a number of recent books attempting to consider the dif-ferent identities of the element. Dag Olav Hessen’s book The Many Lives of Carbon (2018) and Robert Hazen’s Symphony C (2019) are two exam-ples of the growing interest in recounting the history of carbon beyond the realm of chemistry. Like these accounts, in Carbone the substance is re-leased from its status as a chemical element and becomes a milestone of the anthroposphere and its relation to the Earth. Yet Loeve and Bensaude-Vincent seem to provide an even larger perspective, which draws inspira-tions from the history of science and technology, STS, cultural studies, and philosophy

    Sharing in Action: The Systemic Concept of the Environment in Aleksandr Bogdanov

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    This paper discusses the novelty of Aleksandr Bogdanov’s approach, which combines the systemic perspectives employed in his Tektology, the general science of organization (1913–1922). In this work, Bogdanov places particular emphasis on the concept of the environment and situates the process of ‘organization’ in a shared social context. The interaction among social agents, and between them and their contextual surroundings, implies a cybernetic relationship. The environment is, in fact, regarded in terms of both its influence in shaping human living conditions and its plasticity in being transformed by human labour for specific purposes. Likewise, in Tektology, Bogdanov considers not only the social context but also biological and ecological systems that foster an emergent relationship between organisms and their environments. On the one hand, the environment favours biological organisms best adapted to its conditions; on the other hand, the environment is seen as a portion of space (ecosystem) in which populations live and continuously modify the biogeochemical conditions of that system. By referring to biological, ecological and cognitive levels of cybernetic organization, I argue that Bogdanov’s tektological polymorphic idea of the environment embraces different dimensions of the systemic discourse, and can also be useful in understanding the process of knowledge creation underlying the idea of a proletarian culture

    The 1931 London Congress: The Rise of British Marxism and the Interdependencies of Society, Nature and Technology

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    The Second International Conference of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, held in London in 1931, exerted a profound influence on the historiography of science, giving rise to a new research field in the anglophone world at the intersection of social and political studies and the history of science and technology. In particular, Boris Hessen’s presentation on the Social and Economic Roots of Newton’s Principia successfully ushered in a new tradition in the historiography of science. This article introduces and discusses the London conference as a benchmark in the history of the social study of science within a Marxist and materialist tradition. In contemporary science and technology studies, political epistemology, and the study of society-nature interaction, it is no less relevant today than it was at the beginning of the fabulous 1930s. In reconstructing some important theses presented by the Soviet delegation in London, we aim to revive the conference’s legacy and the approach promoted on that occasion as a pretext to address current debates about society’s major transition toward a new agency and ways of existence in the Earth system. In particular, the London conference invited us to think of the growing metabolic rift between society, technology, and nature, and further reflects a historical moment of profound environmental and political crisis
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