Jörn Ahrens


The Anthropocene as Third Nature: Contemporary Challenges and the Disruption of Past and Future

The term of Anthropocene as new epoch in the history of earth is the result of a profound ecological diagnosis: By now, the impact of the human species has been so deep that its consequences call for an understanding of the human being as geological force. Apart from the discussion running parallel to this diagnosis, whether the Anthropocene might be the right term for the respective phenomenon, two aspects are coming into foreground: Firstly, not only the relation between man and nature needs to be reflected in new and appropriate ways, but the question also is which nature it is with which the world is confronted in the Anthropocene. This contemporary type of nature that emerges from processes of human-based interference, alteration, and transformation needs to be addressed as Third Nature, a nature that, especially as existential threat, has radically become anthropogenic. Secondly, the Anthropocene is characterized by a so far unknown narrowing of the time horizon disposable for social and political acting and, therefore, a substantial loss of future. Politics in the Anthropocene always are politics against the background of an eclipse of the future.


Jörn Ahrens is Professor of Cultural Sociology with Emphasis on the Transformation of Culture, at Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen & Extraordinary Professor of Social Anthropology at North-West University, South Africa. Main research areas: analyses of modern culture & popular media; questions of violence, the self, myth, and nature / culture.

Recent publications:

(ed. with Anja Peltzer) Politik der Grenze. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf die Frontier im Western der Gegenwart, Köln 2021: Herbert von Halem;

The Enigma of Origin: The Enigma of Origin: The Notion of Leitkultur as a Contemporary Paradigm of Heimat, in: The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory, Vol. 96, 2021:3;

Praise of Biopolitics? The Covid-19 Pandemic and the Will for Self-Preservation, in: The European Sociologist, Issue 45: Pandemic (Im)Possibilities Vol 1, 06/2020,;

Überzeichnete Spektakel. Die Inszenierung von Gewalt im Comic, Baden-Baden 2019: Nomos.