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Gods of the Anthropocene

Date: 28 April 2015 Time: 15.00-16.30 pm

Venue: Marcus Merriman Lecture Theatre, Bowland North

Earth scientists have proposed that the activities of technologically enhanced humanity are tipping the Earth and its subsystems out of the Holocene - the stable climatic epoch that saw the rise of agriculture and civilisation - into a new and uncertain state, which it proposed should be called ‘the Anthropocene’.  But how might we think the Anthropocene through the lens of the sacred?  I will consider various possibilities.  Should we look to religion as a potential prophylactic against Anthropocenisation - as a cultural and ethical restraint on dangerous environmental change?  Or is organised religion a phenomenon of the Holocene, one which will likely be left behind as humans displace God by taking the helm of planetary development?  Or, might ‘what we talk about when we talk about the Anthropocene’ involve a reorganisation the very category of spirit, and thus of the sacred? Drawing on a number of theorists including Georges Dumézil, Georges Bataille and Michel Serres, I will pursue this line of thought to suggest that the category of the sacred is likely neither to disappear in a secular ‘age of humans’, nor merely to render itself productive in the service of an imagined prolongation of a Holocene condition that was always only a hesitation.  Exploring various examples of spiritual irruption at Anthropocene hotspots across the globe - including resurgences of millennialist monotheism and experiences of hypernatural agencies - I will suggest that the advent of the Anthropocene is giving rise to new, regional planetary deities - gods that are gods in new ways: the gods of the Anthropocene.

All welcome. This event is organised by the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change. 



Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, Sociology

Keywords: Environment, Environmental discourse, Environmental history, Environmental thought, Gothic culture, Religion, Religion and social theory, Religion and society


Department of Sociology

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Department of Sociology, Bowland North, Lancaster University, LA1 4YT, UK
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