Are our cultural imaginaries ready to formulate alternative narratives, offer new pathways if not viable solutions to the present complexity? How do the environmental humanities respond to the unfolding stories of the Anthropocene? Can we create sustainable alliances between science, society and cultural discourses? How are society and culture evolving to face this new epoch of ecological uncertainties? These were the questions that touched tails in our minds when we started editing Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene (2017).
Although still “young” compared to the preceding geological epoch, the Anthropocene, in fact, is already a time fraught with unresolved matters: questions of energy, climate change, human and nonhuman migrations, geopolitical instability across the planet, and the often devastating transformations caused by our hubristic way to use and transform in the planet. The book was intended to contribute to the research in the environmental humanities immersed now in the Anthropocene quandaries and offer new environmental imaginaries, and also formulate solutions to the entangled eco-social problems from the intersectional perspectives of the humanities and the natural sciences.
When our volume finally came out, there were new developments in world politics—particularly the presidential elections in the U.S—that evidently cannot be disentangled from environmental issues, such as climate change policies, water justice, and controversial matter of migrants. Igniting the heated debates on fossil fuel economy, water justice (i.e Standing Rock, and Missouri River watershed), cultural diversity, and migrants, President Donald Trump’s policies seem to have kindled more anxieties in the age of the Anthropocene. Indeed, if the U.S., prompted by this eco-hostile politics, decides to withdraw from the Paris agreements, the path to control global warming risks being totally uphill.
Conversant with this world and with its increasing anxieties, our authors take on the challenge to look at the future armed with the resilient creativity of the humanities. We believe that the force of this book lies in the multifaceted array of its themes and voices: posthumanism and posthumanities (Jeffrey Cohen, Rosi Braidotti and Cosetta Veronese), feminism and social movements (Greta Gaard), cultural ecology and ecocriticism (Hubert Zapf, Scott Slovic), geology (Jan Zalasiewicz), environmental justice and activism (Joni Adamson, Lowell Duckert, Marco Armiero), mining and astrobiology (Filippo Bertoni), religion and philosophy (Kate Rigby, J. Baird Callicott), biosemiotics (Wendy Wheeler), anthropology (Stefan Heimlich), animal ethics and “ethography” of living species (Matthew Calarco, Thom van Dooren and Deborah Bird Rose), and finally the striking ecostories provided by Rob Nixon, Bronislaw Szerszynski, Juan Carlos Galeano.
All these contributions make this collection a unique mix of responses to the eco-social and political contexts of the Anthropocene age. The spirit underlying these chapters is earth-bound and ecological and our rationale here is to confront, with a viable set of tools, the pollution in environments and discourses, humanity’s fearful derailment, and offer new forms of imagination, inviting our readers to rethink the social, political and ecological representations of all these interconnected issues. Because, when the challenges are tougher then ever, the only necessary response is a cultural alliance of more-than-human values.
Serpil Oppermann is Professor of English at Hacettepe University, Turkey.
Serenella Iovino is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Turin.
Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene is now available in all formats here.