Friday, March 15, 2013

The Anthropocene in the Solar System

This is my abstract for an upcoming session on the Anthropocene at the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference in Chicago. No, alas, I'm not going to be there in person; I will be presenting in Skype mode. None of the conference registration and travel costs, but none of the conference partying either ......
A characteristic of what many are now calling the Anthropocene era is the redistribution of elements and minerals in patterns recognisable as the result of human interventions. Since 1957, the year Sputnik 1 was launched, approximately 6000 tons of human materials have been injected into Earth orbit, and more is thinly spread in various locations throughout the solar system. Mineral signatures rarely seen beyond the terrestrial sphere are now colonising interplanetary space. Their contribution to the estimated 40 000 tons of material from space that falls to Earth every year, including meteoroids and dust, is increasing. With the predicted acceleration of asteroid and lunar mining, the human impacts on space are likely to grow. However, the idea of the Anthropocene as constituted in an Earth/Space system has barely been explored. In this paper I draw on Nigel Clark’s concept of “ex-orbitant globality” to situate the Anthropocene in a multi-gravity environment, moving away from the geocentrism that has dominated both archaeological and environmental approaches to understanding what space means.
Clark, Nigel 2002 Ex-orbitant globality. Theory, Culture and Society 22:165-185

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