Landscapes and Territories in the Anthropocene. Literary and cultural perspectives of representation in the Americas

In recent years, the so-called 'Anthropocene' has not only been focused within earth system studies. It has become a central theme in current discourses in the field of cultural studies, political debates, and the literatures and arts of the Americas. Addressed are global environmental phenomena such as climate change, the decline of biodiversity or the increasing exploitation of non-renewable resources of the earth, which in Latin America are discussed under the title '(neo)-extractivism'.

Recently, in the context of the debates in the human sciences devoted to the Anthropocene, a major revision of the usual forms of perception and representation of social, cultural and natural spaces has been initiated, which constitutes the central thematic focus of the conference. On the one hand, the concept of the Anthropocene refers to the period in which the Anthropos has become a central geophysical force on Earth and highlights, in particular, the risks underlying human intervention in the global environment and climate, thereby revealing the finiteness of resources and the 'planetary boundaries' that define the Earth as a biosystem and as a 'contact zone' in which different human and non-human actors interact. On the other hand, the concept presupposes a new interrelation between the figure of the 'earth' (geophysical space) and the 'world' (social, juridical-political space). Thus, representing a specific way of thinking about globalization that opposes the idea of the validity of de-territorialized dynamics of social and economic interaction to the constitutive anchoring of human action in local topographies, geophysically and geographically delimited, which function as the very sites of manifestation of multiple disputes, conflicts and socio-environmental crises that have characterized the globalized world since the period of early modernity.

Furthermore, the concept of the Earth's biosphere relates to different historical conceptions of Nature that in Western thought as well as in cultural representations of the Americas (such as the cosmovision of indigenous peoples) frequently draw on the notion of the ordered cosmos and critically confront the notion of Nature conceived as a potentially infinite 'space of extension' that forms the basis of the dynamics of colonial expansion. At the same time, human intervention in the Earth's geophysical system in no way constitutes the antithesis of the aesthetic and cultural experience of Nature as 'landscape'. In this perspective landscape no longer figures as a homogeneous perceptual space presented to the distanced contemplation of the external observer, but represents a complex geo-imaginary characterized by close interrelationships between geological and climatic conditions, social, architectural and technical infrastructures, as well as aesthetic practices of exploration and geopolitical strategies of territorial appropriation. Therefore, by providing multiple cultural representations in literature, visual arts or architecture that produce varied aesthetic images as well as diverse forms of writing or articulation of natural settings and environmental and territorial systems, the experience, perception and construction of Nature as landscape constitutes a central frame of reference for the conceptualization of the relationship between the human species and its natural environment under Anthropocene conditions.

The conference aims to explore the cultural implications and premises underlying the perception and representation of landscape spaces and geographical territories in the Anthropocene. In this perspective, the Anthropocene is not limited to denote the inherent threat of human intervention in the terrestrial biosystem but is conceived as an important figure of cultural anthropological reflection that, through the heterogeneous articulations of the landscape and the interaction of multiple historical actors and territorial practices, opens new perspectives to think the relationship between land, nature and the world, thus developing a new heuristic of globalization in late Modernity.

The conference is organized by Prof. Dr. Kirsten Kramer of the University of Bielefeld

Sede Principal
Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 09:15
Friday, October 28, 2022 - 09:15

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