Professor Myra Hird is the recipient of a Visiting Leverhulme Professorship and will be talking about her recent work with Professor Peter van Wyck (Concordia). This event will be chaired by Prof Nigel Clark (Lancaster University)

"What was the Anthropocene?"

In 2000, Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer proposed the term ‘Anthropocene’ to signal the end of the Holocene and the point at which human activity has intersected with planetary, geophysical forces. In what geographic region the golden spike will ultimately be driven, and to what geologic time period it may ultimately refer, this human-induced planetary trauma and the concept of globality itself will be rendered decidedly non-metaphorical. To take the Anthropocene seriously is to entertain a radically different ontological regime – a materialist take-over bid - whereby the Earth itself is one long, uninterrupted stratification of geotraumatic events stretching back in deep time to the beginning of the universe and forward into an unknown future. Drawing upon a range of theoretical traditions, we explore geotrauma as the instantiation of a ‘material unconscious’ marking the Earth through relentless stratifications. From this perspective, the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuel extraction, the mid-20th C “Great Acceleration”, nuclear contamination, and other geochemical and geophysical signatures merely constitute the most recent telluric traumas; the burgeoning interest/anxiety in naming and placing the Anthropocene is perhaps but a symptom of the trauma it seeks to designate - and the placement of the golden spike becomes a grand gesture of Anthroneurosis.

Myra J. Hird is Professor and Queen's National Scholar in the School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University, Canada ( Professor Hird is Director of Canada’s Waste Flow, an interdisciplinary research project focused on waste as a global scientific-technical and socio-ethical issue (, and Director of the genera Research Group (gRG), an interdisciplinary research network of collaborating natural, social, and humanities scholars focused on the topic of waste. She has published eight books and over fifty articles and book chapters on a diversity of topics relating to science studies.

The talk and discussion will last approx 90 minutes. 

Any questions contact Nigel Clark:

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