2013, Sat, Jan 12

Is the Anthropocene… Beautiful?

Emma Marris and Erle Ellis

Dialogue between Emma Marris (Autorin, Columbia) and Erle Ellis (Department of Geography and Environmental Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore). Introduction: Cecelia Watson (Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin)

Affirming creativity, innovation and progress, the Anthropocene suggests a wholescale planetary transformation in attitude as well as in form. There is no more “pure nature” to preserve. Parks, reserves, gardens, those “historical” forms of sublime encounter give way to futuristic technoscapes. Consideration, contemplation and formal appreciation of “beauty” in an Anthropocenic landscape may take on significantly different properties. In a post-natural world, what aesthetic possibilities are offered and what could be acknowledged as having sensual value?



Erle Ellis (Baltimore) is a professor for geography and environmental systems and the director of the laboratory for Anthropogenic landscape Ecology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His research investigates the ecology of human landscapes at local to global scales with the aim of informing sustainable stewardship of the biosphere in the Anthropocene. Recent projects include the global mapping of human ecology (anthromes), online tools for global synthesis of local knowledge (GLOBE) and inexpensive user-deployed tools for mapping landscapes in 3D (Ecosynth).


Emma Marris (Columbia, MI) is an environmental writer and reporter. She writes on evolution, energy, agriculture, food, language, books, and film. Her stories have appeared in Conservation, Wired, Nature Medicine, OnEarth, and Nature, where she worked for several years. In 2011, Marris published her first book, "Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World", which explores the riotous ecologies created by human interventions in the process once called “nature.”


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