Seminar Reflection: Knowing (in) the Anthropocene

April 23rd, 2016

The Anthropocene presents us with a unique set of epistemological challenges. From this vantage point, convener Bronislaw Szerszynski reflects on the discussions and activities of this seminar.

This seminar was organized around extended group-work exploring the many challenges to knowledge presented by the Anthropocene, stimulated by a range of inputs from the seminar organizers. Bronislaw Szerszynski opened the seminar by encouraging participants to exploit creative tensions and agonisms between different modes and ontologies of knowing. Melanie Sehgal used the work of Alfred North Whitehead to argue for the importance of challenging the modern “bifurcation” between subjective and objective domains of reality. Sasha Engelmann introduced artist Tomás Saraceno’s idea of the Aerocene—a vision of a society with a transformed metabolic and thermodynamic relationship with both the atmosphere and the Sun. Saraceno also attended the seminar and organized a dawn launch of Aerosolar sculptures at Tempelhof airfield during the Campus. Janot Mendler de Suarez organized exercises designed to stimulate new modes of knowledge production, and Zoe Lucia Lüthi introduced a case study on air-pollution movement in the Himalaya‒Tibetan Plateau region.