Keynotes

Stefania Barca

Stefania Barca

Welcome to the Anthropocene: a tale of eco-capitalist realism

 I will briefly present the argument developed in Part I of my Forces of Reproduction (Cambridge U.P. 2020): that the Anthropocene concept has originated a hegemonic end-of-history narrative, whose message is that the scope of environmental politics is not systemic transformation but the continuation of the present system within planetary boundaries. Centered on a content and format critique of the Welcome to the Anthropocene video, my argument echoes Mark Fisher’s concept of “capitalist realism”, extending it to the current phase of neoliberal environmental governance. Considering eco-capitalist realism as a discursive dispositif with important implications for narrative justice, and for the politics of climate justice more generally, my critique aims at allowing for the emergence of a counter-hegemonic narrative of the Anthropocene.

Senior researcher at the Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra

Laura Centemeri

Laura Centemeri

Repairing, nurturing, reinhabiting: reflections on a care-oriented engagement with/for the environment

In this contribution, I draw on research conducted on the permaculture movement in Italy to develop some reflections on the forms taken by an environmentalism oriented by the aspiration to "care for the earth" and “care for people". This care-oriented environmentalism is focused on practices and, in particular, on ecological design practices. There is, however, an important difference in practicing ecological design exclusively as the design of “permanent” ecosystems or the design of places where to “reinhabit", through “repairing” and “nurturing” social and ecological relations that can sustain the transition towards a more socially and ecologically just society. The study of permaculture movement and initiatives thus makes it possible to reflect on the ways in which ecological design activism can bring together 'technical courage' and 'political courage', both of which are necessary to fight what Stefania Barca defines as the “master’s narrative” of the Anthropocene .

Chargée de recherche CNRS

Emanuele Leonardi

Emanuele Leonardi

The Anthropocene as a Regime of Visibility

The ever-growing Anthropocene-debate has so far mostly concerned the definition of this controversial new geological era - as well as its political implications, and its origins - with proposals ranging from the spread of agriculture to the Columbus Exchange (or globalization of food), from the first Industrial Revolution to the so-called Great Acceleration. My paper quickly reviews these disputes in order to focus on a different, but interrelated, question: when did we start to "see" the new geological epoch? From this perspective, the Anthropocene appears as a regime of visibility which emerged in the late 1980s to (attempt to) manage two key issues associated with the collapse of the Fordist system of regulation: the ecological crisis and the digital economy.

 

Fellow Researcher in Sociology at University of Parma and Affiliated Researcher at Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra

Miriam Tola

Miriam Tola

Improving Mars: Elon Musk, Geopower and Colonial Habitation

Proposed by earth scientists in the early 2000s, the Anthropocene has gained traction as a new imaginary of the earth in which the human species acts simultaneously as agent of disruption and redemption. In the Silicon Valley the Anthropocene imaginary finds a perfect embodiment in the figures of entrepreneurs who design solutions for the ecological crisis, and the venture capitalists who invest in these innovations. Sometimes, as in the case of Elon Musk, the same individuals occupy multiple roles.  In conversation with feminist and decolonial engagements with the Anthropocene, this talk explores Musk as the embodiment of the “good Anthropocene,” the idea that since the human species has become a geological agent, now it has to take charge of the planet. A white migrant from South Africa, Musk is widely celebrated as “the architect of tomorrow.” He called for a revolt against the oil industry and, as the creator of Tesla and other “green” technologies, advocates a sharp to turn away from fossil fuels to alternative energy. His vision for the future extends to outer space as new frontier for value extraction. As the creator of SpaceX, Musk invests in the project of terraforming, settling and improving other planets, creating a multiplanetary space for (some) humans. In considering Musk’s figure, this talk analyses the patriarchal, colonial and capitalist underpinnings of what Frédéric Neyrat and others call “geopower”. This power formation extends the project of capitalist modernity by claiming that the earth and everything making up multi-planetary processes can and must be reconstructed through technological interventions. The analysis of Musk’s figure allows to interrogate how contemporary geopower updates modern forms of colonial habitation predicated upon the exploitation of life and nonlife. 

Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Lausanne

Kjetil Fallan

Kjetil Fallan

Deep Ecology as Deep Design

Coined by Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss in 1972, the concept of ‘deep ecology’ has since travelled far and wide, both politically and academically. Rarely, however, has it been explored in relation to design. By revisiting the core principles of Næss’ ecophilosophy from a design historical perspective, this talk aims to show that the leap from deep ecology to deep design is hidden in plain sight and more relevant than ever before. Næss was no design theorist, and his philosophical program was not formulated explicitly for design. However, emerging as it was at a time when the environmentalist movement had awoken designers, critics, and consumers alike to the ecological entanglements of design, it is easy to understand the appeal and relevance many found in the concept of deep ecology. His simple cabin life, his passionate and advanced mountaineering, and his championing of ‘clean’ climbing technologies was part and parcel of his ecophilosophy. From this acknowledgement, I will argue that the intellectual roots of the deep ecology movement provide fertile ground for exploring the interface between ecophilosophy and ecodesign. 

Professor of Design History at the University of Oslo

Studio Formafantasma

Studio Formafantasma

Cambio

Formafantasma (Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin) are designers who dissect the ecological and political responsibilities of their discipline. Their holistic approach reaches back into the history of a particular material used by humans, out towards the patterns of supply chains that have developed to support and expand its use, and forward to the future of that material’s survival in relation to human consumption. The keynote ‘Cambio’ explores the intersection between design and ecology, focusing on the latest homonymous research project commissioned by Serpentine Galleries London. 

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, Amsterdam

Maurizio Carta

Maurizio Carta

Neoanthropocene Augmented Cities

We are living in a syndemia, a perverse alliance between various unsustainable development pathologies. Covid-19 has been the signal that the planet sent to our species warning us about the urgency of change: 98% of the Earth (the nature) rebels against the enormous environmental impact produced by the remaining 2% (the cities). Humanity life must return to a right balance between men, other living species and with the planet itself, because we have entered the “new climatic regime”, abandoning the alleged superiorities behind which the real fragility of our systems was hidden in their predatory expansion. The Anthropocene is the “super-diffuser” of syndemia, the vast urbanization that has devoured the natural soil, cultural palimpsest, lowlands, coasts and mountains, forests and beaches, and with its enormous social injustice. In short, it turned out to be an Anthropocalypse! To get out of it we need new types of cities and communities, which I name “Augmented Cities”, namely as the human - and not human - habitat of the Neoanthropocene. The augmented city is, for me, a new paradigm that generates a spatial, social, cultural and economic device capable of providing new and urgent answers to the metamorphosis we are going through. It is the concrete answer to the four main revolutions of contemporary society: improving the knowledge society, thinking again to the networked society, fighting climate change and reactivating the urban metabolism. 

Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Palermo