Workshop participants on a field trip to industrial sites along the Mississippi | © Sydney Petersen, 2018
How do we travel through the Anthropocene? This question is not only an ecologically ethical one – being directly related to processes of resource depletion and fossil fuel extraction – but also has an aesthetically conceptual dimension. Previously, traveling anticipated an unknown or a foreignness that the traveler or travelers familiarized themselves with and appropriated. In the Anthropocene, where a limitless interweaving of humankind, nature, technology and economics replaces the white patches of Terra Incognita, this logic runs into nothing. But what travel routes, forms, and narratives are suited for the new planetary realities? And how could travel be understood as a cultural technique of relating to something rather than as a process of appropriation?
These are the prerequisites under which students, scientists, artists, journalists and authors will explore the Mississippi in an Anthropocene River Journey. Down the river along the five Field Stations, travelers will develop and test new types of access to the complexity of the Anthropocene river system in talks, lectures and excursions. In some stages, they will be accompanied by students from Augsburg University, Minneapolis, who, as part of the River Semester, will be covering the entire length of the Mississippi River from the source regions in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in canoes and vans in about eighty days. In experimental seminars on ecology, political science, biology, art, astronomy and history, they seek answers to the challenges of the Anthropocene.