18 April 2015 from 11:00 to 13:00

Bruno Latour in Utrecht: ‘How to Sort out the Many Ambiguities of the Concept of Anthropocene’

Bruno Latour. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Jerzy Kociatkiewicz)
Bruno Latour. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Jerzy Kociatkiewicz)

BAK (basis voor actuele kunst) and the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University are co-organising a lecture by world-famous philosopher Bruno Latour. Part of the Anthropocene Observatory research exhibition currently on view at BAK, Latour will discuss the so-called Anthropocene thesis that identifies our present time as a geological epoch defined by human disturbance of Earth’s ecosystems. Anthropologist Anna Tsing will respond to Latour's lecture.

Anthropocene as a wake-up call

Bruno Latour will discuss the use—and many ambiguities—of the hybrid, novel, and yet unstable concept of the Anthropocene as one informed by the disciplines of geology, philosophy, theology, and social science. He has articulated the Anthropocene as a “wake-up call”, radically reframing both the time and space we find ourselves living in.

The final refusal of the separation between Nature and Human, which “has paralysed science and politics since the dawn of modernism,” the Anthropocene is the most probable alternative we have to usher ourselves out of the notion of modernisation at a point when “the dreams that could be nurtured at the time of the Holocene cannot last.”

Anna Tsing will respond to Latour’s lecture from the perspective of her own research on the notion of “living in the Anthropocene,” weaving together insights from the fields of anthropology, biology, and philosophy to inquire into the possible ways of understanding the “kinds of lives that are made and the futures that are possible in the ruined, re-wilded, and unintended landscapes” of this geological era.

Bruno Latour's lecture at the University of Edinburgh: 'The Anthropocene and the Destruction of the Image of the Globe'

About Bruno Latour

Latour is a philosopher, anthropologist, and sociologist of science who currently teaches at Sciences Po in Paris. He is best known for his books We Have Never Been Modern (1991; English translation, 1993), Laboratory Life (with Steve Woolgar, 1979) and Science in Action (1987). Although his studies of scientific practice were at one time associated with social constructionist approaches to the philosophy of science, Latour has diverged significantly from such approaches. Latour is best known for withdrawing from the subjective/objective division and re-developing the approach to work in practice.

Along with Michel Callon and John Law, Latour is one of the primary developers of actor-network theory (ANT), a constructionist approach influenced by the ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkel, the generative semiotics of Greimas, and (more recently) the sociology of Durkheim's rival Gabriel Tarde. He is the recipient of the 2013 Holberg Memorial Prize, which is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for social sciences and the humanities.

About Anna Tsing

Tsing is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Santa Cruz and Niels Bohr Professor in the Department of Culture and Society at Aarhus University, Aarhus. She is author of, among other books, Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (2005) as well as the co-edited volumes Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon (2009, with Carol Gluck), Communities and Conservation: Histories and Politics of Community-Based Natural Resource Management (2005, with J. Peter Brosius and Charles Zerner), and Nature in the Global South: Environmental Projects in South and Southeast Asia (2003, with Paul Greenough).

Future Vocabularies

The lecture is part of BAK’s long-term research series titled Future Vocabularies (2014–2016) and its chapter on Human-Inhuman-Posthuman, developed in collaboration with BAK Research Fellow prof. Rosi Braidotti and co-organised with the Centre for the Humanities. 

The activities of BAK have been made possible by the City Council of Utrecht and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science of the Netherlands. The project Future Vocabularies is realised with generous support from the DOEN Foundation, Amsterdam.

Start date and time
18 April 2015 11:00
End date and time
18 April 2015 13:00
Entrance fee
€ 5