Race, Violence, Inequality, and the Anthropocene


About the Cluster

The contemporary moment is marked by global environmental change, the collapse of states and the reconfiguration of economies. This era, where human disturbances asymmetrically affect all ecosystems, is increasingly being called the ‘Anthropocene,’ a term that has been vigorously taken up by some European and North American social scientists, humanists, and natural scientists. The Anthropocene is not, however, only a product of recent events, nor is it solely the concern of the global North. We begin from the premise that contemporary Anthropocene conditions are inextricably linked to long-term histories of plant and animal domestication, and to more recent histories of European colonialism, transatlantic slavery and capitalism. We therefore believe it vital to enrich conversations about the Anthropocene – as term, concept, and historical era – by bringing together diverse bodies of scholarship. Studies within the humanities and the humanistic social sciences focusing on how differently situated groups relate to the environment – and imagine environmental presents and futures – have yielded important insights into the nature and origins of global environmental change. A hitherto separate body of scholarship, loosely linked by a concern with the enduring effects of empire, has engaged with the contemporary moment of state collapse and reconfiguration (as is taking place in the Middle East), and of expanding forms of capitalism (e.g. Chinese investments in Africa). Other studies have taken up settler colonialism as a key analytic in thinking about contemporary state formations, patterns of inequality, and the transformation of ecosystems.

We imagine this research cluster and its campus-wide collaborations to serve as the gateway to a larger and better-funded initiative on what might be called Critical Anthropocene Studies. Given the breadth of existing scholarly and artistic production on the Anthropocene, the goal of the first few years of the cluster is to get a robust sense of that work in order to determine which questions, which methods, and which communication genres would be original avenues to pursue when we apply at the end of the cluster’s 2nd or 3rd year uster for extra-mural funding.

UC Santa Cruz Faculty Participants

Principal Investigators:
Jennifer Derr, History
Mayanthi Fernando, Anthropology
Kristina Lyons, Feminist Studies
Andrew Mathews, Anthropology

Karen Barad, Feminist Studies
Nathanial Deutsch, History
Lindsey Dillon, Sociology
TJ Demos, HAVC
Muriam Haleh Davis, History
Donna Haraway, History of Consciousness
Laurie Palmer, Art
Maya Peterson, History
Eric Porter, History of Consciousness & History
Anna Tsing, Anthropology
John Weber, Institute for the Arts and Sciences

UC Santa Cruz Graduate Student Participants

Isabelle Carbonell, Film & Digital Media
Troy Crowder, History
Rachel Cypher, Anthropology
Darcey Evans, Anthropology
Lani Hanna, Feminist Studies
Kirsten Keller, Anthropology
Sean Lawrence, History
Elana Margot, Feminist Studies
Erin McElroy, Feminist Studies
Daniel Schniedewind, Anthropology
Zahirah Suhaimi, Anthropology
Kris Timken, HAVC
Vivian Underhill, Feminist Studies
Brian Walter, Anthropology
Veronika Zablotsky, Feminist Studies


May 2, 2018: Lesley Green – “Sons and Daughters of Soil?”

May 1, 2018: Reading Seminar with Dr. Lesley Green, “ABC of Plant Medicine: On Posing Cosmopolitical Questions”

April 31, 2018: Gabrielle Hecht – “Residual Governance: Mining Afterlives and Molecular Colonialism in a South African Anthropocene”

January 31, 2018: Yarimar Bonilla – “The Wait of Disaster: Hurricanes and the Politics of Recovery in Puerto Rico”

November 17, 2017: Reading Seminar with On Barak, “Strands of Tentacular Thinking”

May 23, 2017: Dr. Nikhil Anand – “Waterlines: Uncertainty and the Future Urban”

April 26, 2017: Traci Brynne Voyles – “Can a Sea be a Settler? California’s Salton Sea and Settler Colonial Frames for Thinking about Environmental (Justice) History”

April 25, 2017: Traci Brynne Voyles – “Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country”

March 7, 2017: Slow Seminar on Race, Violence, Inequality and the Anthropocene

January 24, 2017: Wiring Gaia at the Water-Energy Nexus: Indigenous Water Guardians and Decolonizing Water Science

January 10, 2017: Film, Photography, and the Scientific Record

January 9, 2017:  The Land Beneath Our Feet: A film by Sarita Siegel & Gregg Mitman

October 19, 2016: Slow Seminar on Race, Violence, Inequality and the Anthropocene

October 12, 2016: Anthropocene: Ecological & Political Consequences of Plantations