A research project on the novel epistemic, aesthetic, and educational challenges of the Anthropocene
Anthropocene River Journey
September – November 2019, from Minneapolis to New Orleans
How can the Anthropocene be made legible on a regional level without dismissing its inherent complexity? Along the Mississippi River, the history of nature and settlement, technology and ecology, deep time, the present, exploitation and solidarity intertwine in a singular manner. On September 20, the event phase of the one-year research project Mississippi. An Anthropocene River begins with the start of the Mississippi River Journey. The research platform anthropocene-curriculum.org is the shared working tool and digital entryway to the project. On it, research questions will be discussed, data shared and results presented continuously and openly.
After having explored the knowledge forms, cosmologies and technospheres of the “age of humankind” in conferences, exhibitions and publications for several years, the HKW is now conducting a site-specific investigation of a truly anthropocenic landscape. Since 2018 researchers, artists and activists in collaboration with local initiatives in the United States will develop local approaches to planetary transformations in accordance with new methods of transdisciplinary research and education. The project explores human impacts on the Mississippi region and makes the historical, social and ecological transformation of this human environment system tangible.
The Mississippi River’s meandering path has carved out an iconic landscape in U.S. mythology and has more recently become a symbol for human impact on the environment. For centuries it was a waterway of colonial exploitation and commerce; its banks lined with the historic centers of plantation agriculture and chattel slavery. Throughout its history, it has been an ever-changing ecosystem, an artery for trade goods and a depository for both sediments and pollutants. Today, human transformation of the river landscape ranges from the forested areas on the upper reaches of the river, to industrial agriculture in the Midwest, to petrochemical centers in the delta and the oxygen-depleted “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico.
What impact does the transport of raw materials, goods and people have on the river system? How did people bring about the river in its contemporary form? How can the interplay between ecologic crisis and human interests be made legible along the river? Can a balance between “natural” and “artificial” systems be achieved? Who owns the land and the water and how did this ownership come about?
These questions will be addressed by five Field Stations in field studies, public forums and workshops along the river. From September to November the Anthropocene River Journey will travel downriver gathering the Field Stations findings. In November, the weeklong Anthropocene River Campus: The Human Delta will synthesize the downstream and open up novel collaborative and exploratory epistemological practices.
The research platform anthropocene-curriculum.org is the shared working tool and digital entryway to the project. On it, research questions will be discussed, data shared and results presented continuously and openly.
Research platform: anthropocene-curriculum.org
Mississippi. An Anthropocene River is part of the initiative Wunderbar Together.
Mississippi. An Anthropocene River is a project by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), Berlin, in collaboration with numerous international partners, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office as part of the initiative #WunderbarTogether as well as by the Max Planck Society.
Mississippi. An Anthropocene River is a part of the Anthropocene Curriculum (since 2013), an international long-term project for experimental forms of Anthropocene research and education, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag.
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