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Slow seminar no. 28

The Anthropocene and climate change with The Great Derangement

2016.11.24 | Mia Korsbæk

Date Mon 09 Jan
Time 17:00 20:00
Location Ny Munkegade 114, building 1540, room K33 (basement).

Dear friends of AURA


We are pleased to invite you to the first AURA Slow Seminar of the new year on Monday January 9. The seminar will be held from 17.00-20.00 at Department of Bioscience, Ny Munkegade 114, building 1540, room K33 (basement). The late time will allow us to have Anna Tsing, her colleagues from Santa Cruz and special guest Gregg Mitman join the seminar on videoconference.



We will be discussing Amitav Ghosh’s amazing new book The Great Derangement as well as two articles by Gregg Mitman (attached).


Amitav Ghosh, an award-winning essaying and novelist. The Great Derangement takes up the Anthropocene, and climate change in particular. Ghosh contends that the rapidity and unpredictability of climate change has radically disrupted gradualist narratives of ecological phenomena unfolding at even, predictable rates – hence the title of the book. Ghosh also explores how the Anthropocene has destabilized human-centric perspectives, making us aware of the urgent proximity of nonhuman presences. Finally, he argues for the inextricability of the history of colonialism to contemporary Anthropocene conditions, telling the story of the carbon economy as a story of global entanglement.  

 Gregg Mitman is an environmental historian of Africa at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His article, “Forgotten Paths of Empire,” traces the transnational flows of capital, knowledge, commodities, and microbes in advancing American economic and political interests across the globe. In so doing, he makes imperial-capitalist expansion, and the transformation of landscapes on an industrial scale via plantation economies, central to the story of economic, environmental, and cultural change in Africa, and elsewhere. The other two short pieces are from the forthcoming Remains of the Anthropocene, an edited volume that grew out of an experimental performance event, The Anthropocene Slam: A Cabinet of Curiosities, held in Madison in 2014. That event focused on the coming-into-being of scientific objects – radioactivity, toxic pesticides, ice cores – in the age of the Anthropocene in order to ask how objects might jolt us into reimagining environmental time across diverse scales, and how these objects make visible the differential impacts – past, present, and future – that have come to shape the relationshps among human and non-human beings living in an era of extreme climate conditions and extreme economic disparity.

Ghosh’s new book and Mitman’s new works pair nicely. They both take up questions of human-nonhuman relations in considerations of the Anthropocene. They both also foreground empire, and the role of economic-ecological transformations (for the two are interconnected, both argue) that were central to European imperial expansion and post-colonial nation-states. 



  • Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement (University of Chicago Press, 2016). Soon available at Stakbogladen.
  • Gregg Mitman, “Forgotten Paths of Empire: Ecology, Disease, and Commerce in the Making of Liberia’s Plantation Economy” (Environmental History, forthcoming)
  • Gregg Mitman, Preface and “Hubris or Humility: Genealogies of the Anthropocene” in Remains of the Anthropocene (forthcoming) 


We look forward to seeing you there. Would you RSVP to me if you are joining the seminar, so I can order enough sandwiches and coffee?

Happy Holidays and enjoy the readings.