2017, Thu, May 18

Anthropocene Lecture: McKenzie Wark

Arkady Astapovich, untitled, 1920s

Arkady Astapovich, untitled, 1920s

How can we radically reconceptualize the Anthropocene, the geological epoch in which humanity has become a determining factor in the planet’s further evolution? In the framework of the Anthropocene Lectures, McKenzie Wark presents his critical theory of the relation between labor and nature.

“The Anthropocene runs on carbon. It is a redistribution, not of wealth, or power, or recognition, but of molecules.” In his book Molecular Red. Theory for the Anthropocene (2015), recently released in German, the media theorist McKenzie Wark urges us to consider: “What the Carbon Liberation Front calls us to create in its molecular shadow is not yet another philosophy, but a poetics and technics for the organization of knowledge.” Referring to utopian concepts formulated by thinkers such as Alexander Bogdanov, Andrej Platonov, Donna Haraway, and Kim Stanley Robinson, he suggests an alternative realism capable of rethinking the very role of the working human. In conversation with the science historian Giulia Rispoli he discusses how an organization of knowledge and labor could be reshaped that does not put the existence of current life on this planet in peril.

McKenzie Wark is the author of Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene (2015), published in German as Molekulares Rot: Theorie für das Anthropozän (2017). His other books include A Hacker Manifesto (2004), published in German as Hacker Manifest (2005), and The Beach Beneath the Street (2011). He is Professor of Media and Culture at The New School in New York City.

Giulia Rispoli is fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She investigates the antecedents of the Anthropocene concept from the early 20th century, in particular the societal and ecological discourse in Russia and the Soviet Union. Her research interests span from the history and epistemology of systems theory and cybernetics to global ecology and earth system science. She was postdoctoral fellow at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris and visiting scholar at The University of York (UK), and The National University of Science and Technology in Moscow. Currently, she is part of a research group on science diplomacy that involves scholars based in the UK, Brazil, Hungary and Czech Republic.

The Anthropocene Lecture series is a platform for inviting a number of prominent speakers accentuating the debate on the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene Lecture series is being developed in cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.