Anthropology, Archaeology, and Bridging the Climate Divide
The Anthropocene concept has been roundly critiqued for its tendency to conceptualize human action in global-scale, species-level terms without attending to the concrete histories of inequality and oppression that formed the historical circumstances for contemporary earth system change. This “geologizing of the social” vacates the specific histories, human and nonhuman, that have assembled the present moment. But this move has a less well-known significance – the “social” that is so geologized is also, as I discuss, parameterized into the component parts of local and global climate models, the very models we use to understand the present and predict the future. In this talk, I describe how the LandCover6k project, an international working group of archaeologists, historians, paleoecologists, and climate modelers is working to address the foundational problems modelers face in dealing with the past, and, by assembling evidence and understandings from anthropology and archaeology, is using these fields to improve climate models.
Discussant: Hannah Chazin, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
Kathleen MorrisonProfessor of Anthropology
Kathleen Morrison ’s research focuses on the historical ecology of Southern Asia, especially changes in agriculture, land use, and environment, integrating approaches from archaeology, history, and environmental science. Current projects include: (1) work on the long-term relationships between biodiversity and human land use; (2) Land Cover6k, a “big data” project using archaeological, historical, and paleoenvironmental evidence to improve climate models; (3) network and spatial analysis of Middle period South Indian inscriptions and archaeological sites; and (4) ongoing work on the archaeology of farming, food, and power relations in South India from the Neolithic to the Early Modern period.